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Bond girl who said 'No'

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 30, 2017

THE name Marguerite Gordon (nee LeWars) may not immediately resonate with fans of James Bond movies. However, her beauty and charm helped lay the groundwork for others to follow.

“I was the first evil woman James Bond met... a Jamaican. All others came after me,” Gordon, 77, told the Jamaica Observer.

The Kingston-born Gordon — who now calls Trinidad and Tobago home — played newspaper photographer Annabel Chung in the first Bond film Dr No. Filmed in Jamaica, the movie starred Sean Connery alongside Jack Lord and Ursula Andress. Bond was created by Ian Fleming, a former British naval intelligence officer who once had a summer home in Oracabessa, St Mary, called Goldeneye.

This month Dr No celebrates its 55th anniversary.

Gordon, who won the Miss Jamaica title in 1961, explained how she got cast in the iconic franchise.

“I was 22 at the time. I was a ticket supervisor at BWIA's (British West Indies Airways) VIP counter. I remember a tall gentleman coming up to the counter and asking: 'Have you ever been in the movies? Do you want to be in the movies? I just said: 'Here's your boarding pass, Sir. Have a lovely day!” she told the Observer.

The gentleman was British director Terrence Young. In addition to Dr No, he went on to direct two other Bond films, From Russia with Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965).

“Three months later he again appeared at the ticket counter saying: Here I am! This time he had a bottle of Miss Dior perfume and a contract. I gave him back the perfume, but thought it wouldn't be a problem to take the contract home and have a look at it. But I had to run that by my parents (Russell and Gloria LeWars), who I was still living with at the time,” she recalled.

After getting the nod, Gordon said she met with film executives at Courtleigh Manor in Kingston to discuss the script. She was extremely uncomfortable with the role.

“My initial part was to lie on a bed, wrapped in a sheet and kissing a strange man. I was disgust... I was not involved in that stuff. So that had to be scrapped. I had very high principles,” she said.

But that wasn't the only hurdle. She said during filming her nerves would get the better of her and Connery rallied to her aid.

“Sean was a very, very, nice man. I kept forgetting my lines and I got flustered. He calmed me,” she said. “I played a character of Asian origin, so to get the eyes, they had to Durafix me at my temples and covered it with make-up and tied it behind my head,” she said.

Gordon said at a wrap party held at Morgan's Harbour in Kingston, things took a turn for the worst.

“The director tried to be fresh, so I slapped him in the face twice. I wasn't interested in the casting couch... And they did a voice over. So that's not my voice in the movie,” she said.

Young died in September 1994 at 79.

Gordon never appeared in any other films but went on to recruit flight attendants for then fledging national airline Air Jamaica. She also ran a successful training company.

“Air Jamaica was the most fabulous time of my life. It was a wonderful experience.”

With its budget of US$1 million, Dr No went on to become a box office hit, making close to US$60 million and propelling Connery to bonafide stardom.

“It has been the most successful series the world has ever seen. And Sean is the best! It would be really nice to see him again,” Gordon added.