Shirley Eaton

Shirley Eaton (born 12 January 1937) is an English actress, model and author. She was a sex symbol in the 1950s and 1960s, often dubbed the Cockney blonde bombshell for her London accent, blonde hair and sex appeal.[1]

Shirley Eaton
Born (1937-01-12) 12 January 1937
Edgware, Middlesex, England
NationalityBritish
OccupationActress, author, sex symbol
Years active
  • 1951–1969 (actress)
  • 1999–present (author)
Spouse(s)
Colin Rowe
(m. 1957; died 1994)
Children2

Eaton appeared regularly in British films throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and gained her highest profile for her appearance as Bond Girl Jill Masterson in the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964). Eaton also had roles in the early Carry On films. Preferring to devote herself to bringing up a family, Eaton retired from acting in 1969.

Life and career

Early life

Eaton was born on 12 January 1937 in Edgware General Hospital, Middlesex, and brought up in the suburb of Kingsbury. She attended Roe Green Primary School on Princes Avenue, and although living close to both Kingsbury County Grammar School and Tylers Croft Secondary Modern School, won a place at the Aida Foster Theatre School, a specialist drama school, and remained there until she was sixteen.[2] Her stage debut was in Benjamin Britten's Let's Make an Opera! and her West End debut was in 1954 in Going to Town.[2]

All through the 1950s, Eaton was a singing star both on the stage and on television, appearing with her own act in variety shows throughout the country and starring at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London in her own solo singing act, as well as appearing in many films. Throughout her career, she appeared with many of the top British male comedy stars of the period including Jimmy Edwards, Max Bygraves, Bob Monkhouse, and Arthur Askey. Eaton's female co-stars included Peggy Mount, Thora Hird, and Dora Bryan among others. Her early roles include Three Men in a Boat (1956) and Date with Disaster (1957), in which she co-starred with Tom Drake. She also worked with the Crazy Gang in Life Is a Circus (1958) and with Mickey Spillane in The Girl Hunters (1963) in which Spillane played his own literary creation Mike Hammer. She appeared in several early Carry On films. She made three episodes of The Saint, starring Roger Moore, including the pilot. Eaton participated in the British heat of the 1957 Eurovision Song Contest.

But Eaton achieved the most recognition for her performance as Jill Masterson in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger (1964). She appeared on the cover of Life magazine in her gold-painted persona. Her character's death, being painted head to toe in gold paint and suffering "skin suffocation" led to an urban myth that Eaton herself had actually died during filming.[3] She appeared in a 2003 episode of the series MythBusters to dispel the rumour.

After Goldfinger, Eaton made only a few more films, including the version of the Agatha Christie mystery Ten Little Indians (1965) co-starring Hugh O'Brian and a Bob Hope comedy, Eight on the Lam (1967), plus the spy story The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967), before her retirement. In a 2014 interview, she explained: "After I finished The Million Eyes of Sumuru and The Girl from Rio and was coming home in the plane was when I made the decision to quit. I hated being away from my baby Jason and his brother Grant. However, I did enjoy being the wicked lady Sumuru in two rather bad films, which I had not had the chance to be before. I do believe they have become cult films now."[4]

Personal life

Eaton was married to Colin Lenton Rowe from 1957 until his death in 1994. The couple had two children, Grant and Jason. Eaton retired from acting to bring up her family and later commented in a 1999 interview with Steve Swires of Starlog magazine, "A career is a career, but you're a mother until you die". She repeated this statement in an interview with the journalist James Davies on 18 June 2008, adding, "The most important thing for me was being a woman and having a family more than being a very famous glamorous actress".[5]

Eaton published an autobiography in 1999 titled Golden Girl. Her later book (Golden Girl Shirley Eaton: Her Reflections) is a picture book of all her film photos from throughout her career and the second book (Shirley Eaton, Bond's Golden Girl; her own ART Gallery) is full of her paintings and sculptures made over a lifetime and, more recently, her art and photography. She also has an official website.[6]

Filmography

Film Year Role
Parent-Craft1951Anne Pebble (TV series)
A Day to Remember1953Young Woman on Ferry (uncredited)
You Know What Sailors Are1954Palace Girl (uncredited)
Doctor in the House1954Milly Groaker
The Belles of St Trinian's1954Sixth Former (uncredited)
And So to Bentley1954One episode
The Love Match1955Rose Brown
Charley Moon1956Angel Dream
Sailor Beware!1956Shirley Hornett
Three Men in a Boat1956Sophie Clutterbuck
Doctor at Large1957Nan
Date with Disaster1957Sue
The Naked Truth1957Melissa Right
Carry On Sergeant1958Mary Sage
Further Up the Creek1958Jane
Carry On Nurse1959Staff Nurse Dorothy Denton
In the Wake of a Stranger1959Joyce Edwards
Life Is a Circus1960Shirley Winter
Carry On Constable1960Sally Barry
Nearly a Nasty Accident1961Cpl. Jean Briggs
Dentist on the Job1961Jill Venner
A Weekend with Lulu1961Deirdre Proudfoot
What a Carve Up!1961Linda Dickson
The Saint1962–1968Adrienne Halberd/Gloria Uckrose/Reb Denning (three episodes)
Our Man in the Caribbean1962Lee
Man of the World1962Lee (one episode)
The Girl Hunters1963Laura Knapp
Rhino!1964Miss Arleigh
Goldfinger1964Jill Masterson
The Naked Brigade1965Diana Forsythe
Ten Little Indians1965Ann Clyde
Around the World Under the Sea1966Dr. Margaret E. 'Maggie' Hanford
Eight on the Lam1967Ellie Barton
The Million Eyes of Sumuru1967Sumuru
The Blood of Fu Manchu1968Black Widow
The Girl from Rio1969Sumuru/Sumitra

References

  1. Strodder, Chris; Phillips, Michelle (1 March 2007). The Encyclopedia of Sixties Cool: A Celebration of the Grooviest People, Events, and Artifacts of the 1960s. Santa Monica Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-59580-017-6.
  2. Reid, John Howard (2006). America's Best, Britain's Finest: A Survey of Mixed Movies. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-1-4116-7877-4.
  3. Blauvelt, Christian (17 July 2018). "Goldfinger and the myth of a Bond girl's death". BBC Culture. BBC.
  4. Armstrong, Richard. "Shirley Eaton Talks with the Café about James Bond, Mickey Spillane, and Her New Book". Classic Film & TV Cafe. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  5. "JAMES DAVIES MEDIA - Journalist, Showbiz Reporter: James Davies Interviews Bond's golden girl, Shirley Eaton". Jamesdaviesmedia.blogspot.com. 18 June 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  6. "Shirley Eaton - Bond girl, actress, author, artist - Home". Shirleyeaton.net. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
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