Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Eunice Gayson Passes On

Eunice Gayson, who appeared as Sylvia Trench in the first two James Bond movies, appeared in Hammer Films' Revenge of Frankenstein, and guest starred on such shows as Danger Man, The Avengers, and The Saint, died on June 8 2018 at the age of 90.

Eunice Gayson was born Eunice Sargaison on March 28 1928 in Purley, Surrey. She made her film debut in a bit part in the movie My Brother Jonathan (1948). In the late Forties she appeared in such films as It Happened in Soho (1948), The Huggetts Abroad (1948), Melody in the Dark (1949), and Dance Hall (1950). She made her television debut in 1948 in the TV movie Between Ourselves. In the late Forties she appeared in such TV productions as Lady Luck (1948), Dick Whittington (1949), and Treasures in Heaven (1950).

In the Fifties Miss Gayson guest starred on such TV shows as Douglas Fairbanks Presents, The Vise, BBC Sunday-Night Theatre, and The New Adventures of Charlie Chan. She appeared in such movies as To Have and to Hold (1951), Miss Robin Hood (1952), Count of Twelve (1955), Carry On Admiral (1957), and The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958).

In the Sixties she was cast as Sylvia Trench in the James Bond movie Dr. No (1962). Initially Miss Gayson was going to appear as Miss Moneypenny, while Lois Maxwell would have played Sylvia Trench. Eunice Gayson and Lois Maxwell each preferred the other's character and a result the two switched roles. Sylvia Trench was to have been James Bond's steady girlfriend in London and appeared again in From Russia with Love (1963). The director of Goldfinger (1964), Guy Hamilton, decided James Bond did not need a steady girlfriend, and so Eunice Gayson appeared in no more James Bond movies. From Russia with Love would be Miss Gayson's last appearance. Eunice Gayson guest starred on such TV shows as Danger Man, The Avengers, The Saint, Before the Fringe, The Dick Emery Show, The World of the Beachcomber, and Albert and Victoria. Her last appearance was in the TV show The Adventurer in 1972.

Miss Gayson also appeared on stage, playing Baroness Elsa Schraeder in The Sound of Music and appearing productions of The Grass is Greener and Into the Woods.

Eunice Gayson was not the first Bond Girl. That would actually be Linda Christian in the 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale that aired as an episode of the TV show Climax!. Furthermore, she did not provide her own voice in the two Bond movies in which she appeared, as she was dubbed by Nikki van der Zyl. This was a standard practice on the early Bond films, with every female character being dubbed by Nikki van der Zyl except for Miss Moneypenny and the characters played by Honor Blackman and Dame Diana Rigg (since Honor Blackman and Dame Diana Rigg had played Cathy Gale and Emma Peel on The Avengers, their voices were probably considered too familiar to be replaced). Regardless, Eunice Gayson played an important role in the history of James Bond. She was the first Bond Girl in Eon Productions' series of films featuring 007. Here it must be noted that people familiar with Miss Gayson from the Rank Organisation movies of the Fifties and TV guest appearances must have been puzzled by her voice in the Bond movies!

Of course, Eunice Gayson played many more roles than Sylvia Trench. She played Margaret, the assistant at the hospital who has the misfortune of meeting Baron Frankenstein, in The Revenge of Frankenstein. On The Avengers she played Lucille Banks, the evil head of a dance school in the episode "Quick-Quick Slow Death". In "The Invisible Millionaire", an episode of The Saint, she played Nora Prescott, who goes to her friend Simon Templar when her employer makes a strange request. Over the years Miss Gayson played a variety of roles and did well in all of them. She was an actress of considerable talent.

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