Six and a Half Minutes
Today Shirley Eaton isn't a household name, but she was in the swingin sixties. By 1964, the actress was already well-known in Britain and Europe before agreeing to take a small role that would launch her iconic orbit. Shirley had one of the shortest on-screen roles as a Bond Girl—about six and a half minutes in the beginning of 1964's Goldfinger. And like gold, her role continues to shine and luster. More than 40 years later, the image of her across the bed painted in gold remains part celluloid, part urban legend. To this day it's the best costume ever won by a Bond Girl.
All of this comes to mind two days ago while watching the movie for perhaps the fifth or sixth time in as many weeks. Goldfinger—the movie and the soundtrack—became a litmus test for every Bond film over the next forty years.
It introduced two seriously sexy and naughty girls: Eaton's Jill Masterson, and the unforgettable Honor Blackman as Pussy "I Must Be Dreaming" Galore. Then there's the sinister gangsters, over-the-top scenarios and even fiercer soundtrack. Sure, there have been some notable Bond Girls since then; some even had memorable roles like Maud Adams, Barbara Bach, Grace Jones or Halle Berry.
But here's the rub: Most of the Bond Girls became famous simply from appearing in the movie, or were already celebrities. But few have had memorable characters: Do you remember Kara Milovy? Or Magda? How about ... Christmas Jones or Elektra King? Of course not. Let's be honest, if Halle weren't Halle, her role in Die Another Day would be a mere footnote. Actually, it already it is, but that's another story.
Shirley Eaton's six and a half minutes as Jill Masterson is just the oppposite. You may not remember her name, or her character's and that's okay. But the role has defined the genre. The golden girl is an icon, a haunting and legendary figure replete with urban lore; the gold paint did not kill her, as many have believed, and still do to this day. Only her character died, and the circumstances and imagery were incredible. That's why we'll always remember Shirley's six and a half minutes.