Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lois Maxwell R.I.P.

Lois Maxwell, best known for playing Miss Moneypenny to both Sean Connery and Roger Moore's James Bond, passed yesterday at the age of 80 after a battle with cancer.

She was born Lois Hooker in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada on February 14, 1927. At the age of fifteen she ran away from home and joined the Royal Canadian Army during World War II. Eventually she found herself in Canada's Army Entertainment Corps. It was in London that the military learned she was under age. She joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts to avoid being forcefully returned to Canada. By 1946 she would make her first appearance on film, in a small, uncredited part in A Matter of Life and Death. She would receive the Golden Globe for Best Newcomer for her role in the Shirley Temple comedy That Hagen Girl. She appeared in such Hollywood films as The Dark Past and The Crime Doctor's Diary before moving to Europe.

Maxwell appeared in a few Italian films before moving to England and appearing in films there. Throughout the Fifties she appeared in such movies as Lady in the Fog and Passport to Treason. She made her first appearance on the small screen in the ITC TV show O.S.S. in 1957. It would be the Sixties that would bring her fame. In 1962 she was cast as Miss Moneypenny in Dr. No. She played the secretary to M, who flirted with Bond and with whom he flirted back, in every Bond movie from Dr. No to A View to a Kill. She also appeared in the films Lolita, Come Fly With Me, and The Haunting. Throughout the Sixties she made guest appearances on TV shows, including The Avengers, Zero One, Danger Man, The Baron, and The Saint (with future co-star Roger Moore). She was a regular on the Canadian series Adventures in Rainbow Country.

Maxwell continued to appear in movies from the Seventies into the Naughts. Besides the Bond films, she also appeared in the films Endless Night, Lost and Found, Summer Rain, and The Fourth Angel. She also appeared on the TV shows The Persuaders (once again with Roger Moore), and the new version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the Eighties.

Caroline Bliss. Samantha Bond, and Barbara Bouchet have since played Miss Moneypenny, but none of them have matched Lois Maxwell in the role. She should convey the affection she held for Bond in little more than a glance. Indeed, in Fleming's novels there is no such sexual tension between Miss Moneypenny and 007. That was a innovation of the films. And Lois Maxwell pulled it off wonderfully. Although many of the Bond girls may have been more physically attractive than Miss Moneypenny, I rather suspect that it was Miss Moneypenny that most male Bond fans would rather take home. Lois Maxwell endowed her with intelligence, independence (throughout the movies she is the only woman to resist Bond's advances), and a wholesome sort of sexuality that the Bond girls lacked. Miss Moneypenny surely would not have been so appealing if someone other than Lois Maxwell had played her.

1 comment:

Jeremy Barker said...

All this time I had no idea she was a Canadian - and born but an hour from my birthplace.

Her passing really shows the power of the Bond films. An actress who had under 200 words of dialogue made this kind of an impact. Imagine the dark day when Connery or Moore make their final farewell.