Original Miss Moneypenny dies at 80.
Canadian-born actress was lovelorn secretary Miss Moneypenny
appeared in first 14 James Bond films; spoke few lines.
The Times, London
Published: Monday, October 01, 2007
In the early 1960s, her career bogged down in British second features, Lois Maxwell suffered a personal blow when her husband, Peter Marriott, had a serious heart attack. They had two small children and she needed work to support the family. After badgering producers, she was offered a part in the first film adaptation of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels.
In Dr. No, Ms. Maxwell's Miss Moneypenny was the attractive, lovelorn secretary of Bond's secret service boss, M, and usually the recipient of flowers when Bond called in at M's office. Almost inevitably, she would tick Bond off for being late, while harbouring romantic designs on him that were never reciprocated.
Ms. Maxwell played Miss Moneypenny in the first 14 Bond films and was the only cast member to be in all 14, the Bond role having passed from Sean Connery to George Lazenby and Roger Moore. Although the commercial success of the cycle gave Ms. Maxwell celebrity, it was estimated that in the films she spoke fewer than 200 words and was on screen a total of one hour.
Nor did Miss Moneypenny make her rich. Ms. Maxwell started on about $200 a day, modest by film standards, and the fee did not substantially increase. Her final outing as Miss Moneypenny came in 1985 in A View to a Kill. By now, producer Cubby Broccoli had decided that at the age of 59 it was time for Ms. Maxwell to give way to a younger actress. She accepted this ageism with good grace.
Ms. Maxwell was born Lois Hooker in Kitchener, Ont., and grew up in Toronto. Her father was a school teacher and her mother a nurse. She danced from the age of 10, and in 1942 joined the wartime Army Show. She was 15 and had to lie about her age to join the Canadian Women's Army Corps to get the part. The show toured Canada before going to Britain in 1943.
While in London, she got into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where a fellow student, Roger Moore, was a future James Bond. She made her film debut in the Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger film A Matter of Life and Death in 1946, only for her part to end up on the cutting-room floor. She subsequently appeared on the London stage in a Noel Coward play, Our Betters.
On this scanty evidence, she was offered a contract by Warner Brothers and went to Hollywood in 1947 when she was 19. She was featured by Life magazine in a spread on two of Hollywood's most promising starlets. The other was Marilyn Monroe. Ms. Maxwell began at Warners with That Hagen Girl (1947), in which she played Shirley Temple's school teacher.
Ms. Maxwell's time in Hollywood proved to be short and unfruitful. After landing only small parts in B-pictures, she quickly secured release from her Warners contract, but did no better at Columbia, and in 1948, frustrated by the standard of work she was being offered, she sailed for Europe.
In Britain, she had a small part in Corridor of Mirrors (1948), a melodrama that introduced Ms. Maxwell to Terence Young, who was to direct the first three Bond films. She then spent the early 1950s in Rome, where she made a couple of films with Sophia Loren, before returning to the British cinema and marrying Peter Marriott, a studio production executive, in 1957.
On screen, she was busy, but never a star. A rare leading part came in the low-budget sci-fi picture Satellite in the Sky (1956), and Terence Young directed her again in Kill Me Tomorrow (1957). In the early 1960s, she appeared in two more notable films, Stanley Kubrick's version of Lolita and Robert Wise's horror picture, The Haunting.
By now she was well into her long stint as Miss Moneypenny, but she occasionally took time out for other films, such as the Agatha Christie thriller Endless Night (1971). In 1979, she returned to Hollywood for the romantic comedy Lost and Found, but after A View to a Kill, she virtually retired from the screen.
When her husband died in 1973, she moved to Canada, settling in Toronto, where she became a businesswoman, running her own publishing company.
For 14 years, she wrote a column for the Toronto Sun, which she signed Moneypenny.
In 1994, she moved back to Britain and appeared regularly at James Bond conventions and dinners. Later that decade, she emigrated to Perth, and then Fremantle, in Western Australia, where her son lives. She died Saturday at age 80 in Australia. She is survived by her daughter and son.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2007