Family & Companions
With her enviable figure and come-hither looks, actress Linda Christian fit the role of a James Bond girl to a tee. In fact, the Hollywood starlet was the first actress to ever appear as a Bond girl with her role on the TV adaptation of "Casino Royale" (CBS, 1954), based on the 1953 spy novel of the same name by Ian Fleming and was televised as part of the network's drama anthology "Climax!" (1954-58). Prior to this, Christian had made strides in her career with roles in "Up in Arms" (1944) and "Tarzan and the Mermaids" (1948), before becoming the envy of women everywhere when she married Hollywood heartthrob and swashbuckling star Tyrone Power in 1949. Marital problems and rumors of extramarital affairs, however, overshadowed Christian's career until their divorce in 1955. While the actress faded from public view, she did continue appearing in lesser films and TV series up until the late 1980s. But was her role as a curvaceous, bikini-clad Bond girl that punctuated her career and made Christian an iconic screen siren.
Born on Nov. 13, 1923 in Tamaulipas, Mexico, Christian was raised the daughter of a Dutch oil executive and his Mexican-born wife. Because of her father's job, the future star traveled the world with her parents and became fluent in seven languages. Before pursuing an acting career, Christian studied medicine, but a fortuitous meeting with movie star Errol Flynn led her to seek a career in show business. After moving to Hollywood, a talent scout discovered Christian at a fashion show and signed her to a seven-year contract with MGM Studios. She made her big screen debut alongside Danny Kaye and Dinah Shore in the musical comedy "Up in Arms" (1944), and had a breakthrough role in the action-adventure film "Tarzan and the Mermaids" (1948), as a young girl forced to marry a con man impersonating a tribal god. Her career took off shortly after her marriage to Tyrone Power, one of 20th Century Fox's biggest romantic leads. The couple had two daughters, singer-actress Romina Power and actress Taryn Power. Christian soon landed her most high profile role, playing Vesper Lynd - the first Bond girl ever ¬- on "Casino Royale," the TV adaptation of Ian Fleming's 1953 novel of the same name. The episode was part of a CBS drama anthology called "Climax!" On the episode, Christian's voluptuous figure was brought to the forefront, and earned her the nickname "the anatomic bomb" by Life magazine.
While her career soared, Christian's marriage to Power was eroding, reportedly due to extramarital affairs by both parties, and the couple divorced in 1955. The actress herself acknowledged that she had an affair with British actor Edmund Purdom, who appeared with her in the romantic comedy "Athena" (1954). Christian wed Purdom in 1962, though their marriage lasted only a year. Also at the time, she was linked to Brazilian mining millionaire Francisco "Baby" Pignatari and Spanish racecar driver Alfonso de Portago. In 1957, Christian was photographed kissing Portago before the start of the Mille Miglia race, where he crashed his Ferrari and killed himself and at least 10 spectators. That photograph was published under the headline "The Kiss of Death." After costarring in the drama "The V.I.P.s" (1963) opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Christian's career began to flounder. She appeared on a number of television drama series like "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" (CBS, 1962-65) and made several films in Italy through the late 1980s, before fading from public view. On July 22, 2011, Christian died at the age of 87 in Palm Desert, CA, after a battle with colon cancer. She was 87.
Cast (Feature Film)
Made her film debut in "Up In Arms"
Appeared in "Holiday in Mexico"
Acted in "Green Dolphin Street," opposite Lana Turner
Co-starred in "Tarzan and the Mermaids"
Was the subject of a well-known photograph published in the January issue of Vogue
Last US film, "The VIP's"
Appeared in NBC TV pilot, "Last of the Private Eyes"
Appeared in feature, "Amore Inquieto di Maria"