Behind The Scenes Of The Golden Age Of Hollywood
Rita Hayworth Had Painful Electrolysis To Fix Her Hairline
Rita Hayworth was not just a bombshell, she was the bomb as well. When the United States resumed nuclear testing after the end of the Second World War, the first bomb dropped was named Gilda, after Hayworth's most famous role. She was arguably the biggest Hollywood sex symbol of the first half of the 20th century -- the pre-Monroe era.
Hayworth had red hair, as far as the fans knew, but her natural look was all Latina, thanks to the genes on her Spanish-born father's side. When Hollywood went all-in on the Brooklyn beauty who was born Margarita Carmen Cansino, she got not just a new name (Hayworth was her mother's maiden name) and hair color, she also got a new hairline. In a primitive plastic-surgery process, Hayworth was subjected to electrolysis to raise the hairline and broaden her forehead for an overall more Anglo-Saxon look. According to reports, the process took two years, and each procedure zapped one hair at a time at a cost of $10 per hair.
The Joan Crawford-Bette Davis Feud Was Real, And Joan Crawford Usually Won
The Bette Davis-Joan Crawford feud was a war that stretched over decades, simmering at times and boiling over at others. It all began with dueling press coverage in 1933: Joan Crawford's impending divorce from Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. overshadowed Bette Davis' performance in Ex-Lady, which was her first starring role. The two milestones were announced the same day, and Crawford got more ink.
In the ensuing years, Crawford "stole" the man Davis wanted to marry. When Davis won the Best Actress Oscar in 1936, Crawford frowned upon the dress that Davis wore. In 1943, Crawford attempted a truce, sending Davis gifts and flowers -- which Davis returned. In 1945, when Davis turned down the title role in Mildred Pierce, Crawford signed on and won an Oscar for her performance. Seven years later, Davis actually played a version of Crawford on screen in The Star, an unflattering portrait of a washed-up actress. At this point it was clear that the two hated each other's guts -- so, naturally, they were cast to appear in their only film together, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, in which the two actresses had actual fight scenes in which they weren't exactly acting.
Bette Davis And Joan Crawford Got WWE Raw On the Set Of 'Baby Jane'
The well-known feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis reached a crescendo with Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, the only film in which the two appeared together. The movie is about a brutal sibling rivalry between two sisters who are washed-up stars. In one scene, Blanche (played by Davis) assaults Jane (Crawford) -- Crawford insisted on a stunt double because she didn't trust Davis, and with good reason. During a close-up shot in which a double couldn't be used, Davis really did hit her -- hard. Davis, like a schoolyard bully, claimed she "barely touched" Crawford.
Later, when filming a scene in which Blanche must drag Jane across a room, Crawford made herself extra-heavy (with a weightlifter's belt, according to one account) and intentionally ruined several takes, forcing her rival, who had a bad back, to endure excruciating pain as she repeatedly dragged her across the floor.
Davis was nominated for an Oscar for Baby Jane and Crawford wasn't, but Crawford managed to get the better of her -- as usual -- by arranging to accept the award should it be won by an actress who didn't attend the ceremony. When Davis lost out to Anne Bancroft, she had to watch as Crawford strode to the stage, accepted the award on Bancroft's behalf, and proceeded to pose for the press as if it was hers.
Dean Martin Drank. But He Wasn't Always Drunk
Dean Martin was such a smooth cat that his voice had a melodic quality even when he wasn't singing -- though the way he strung words together also suggested the slurred speech of a drunk. So was he constantly soused, or not? His buddy Frank Sinatra took it up on the classic 1966 live album Sinatra At The Sands.
The question most asked of me is, 'Does Dean Martin really drink?' I can say he’s an absolutely, unqualified drunk. If we ever develop an Olympic drinking team, he'll be the coach.
While Martin didn't shy away from booze, Sinatra was exaggerating, for the benefit of the real team, which was the Rat Pack. They were indeed champion drinkers, but reports later emerged that Martin was often the first one to call it a night. For the public, Martin played a charming drunk -- brilliantly -- which made the Rat Pack all the more charming.
For many stars -- passionate, driven by ego, used to getting what they want -- there's the one dance partner who nearly ruins them. For Frank Sinatra, it was actress Ava Gardner. Sinatra entered into a relationship with her while still married to his first wife Nancy; after obtaining a divorce he married the screen siren. And it nearly killed him.
Sinatra's spats with Gardner were loud, and legendary, and the man we think of as one of the tough guys of showbiz was often reduced to rubble by Gardner. Obsession is a hell of a drug. During their years together (they were married from 1951-57), Sinatra actually attempted suicide three, or perhaps four times. He downed dangerous amounts of pills, he tried the old leave-the-gas-stove-on move, he slit his wrists -- and then there was the time Gardner walked into their bedroom to find her husband holding a gun to his own head.
Gardner had Sinatra's number because she didn't fall at his feet like every other woman. "She pitied him more than she loved him," Sammy Davis Jr. once observed.
'Breathless' Actress Jean Seberg Was Hounded By The FBI
In 1960 Jean Seberg flashed onto the screen in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (A Bout De Souffle). While it wasn’t her first film, it's the one that she's most famous for, and the French New Wave masterpiece brought this Iowa girl into an international spotlight. While Seberg tried to use her fame and fortune for good by giving to causes that aided Civil Rights programs, she was also an outspoken proponent of the Black Panthers, an anti-fascist, black political organization that J. Edgar Hoover described as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country."
The FBI embarked on a campaign, through its controversial (and since suspended) COINTEL program, to humiliate Seberg. The agency planted a story in the press (the L.A. Times and Newsweek, specifically) that suggested the pregnant actress was carrying a baby fathered not by her husband Romain Gary, but Black Panther Raymond Hewitt. The stress of the FBI’s pressure cooker sent Seberg into a depressive spiral. She started drinking and taking pills, and she went into early labor on August 23, 1970. Two days later her child passed away and she held an open casket funeral so the world could see that her child was, in fact, not mixed race.
Did the FBI go so far as to have Seberg killed? She died in Paris in 1979, in what French authorities called a suicide. A year later, they reopened the case, citing certain oddities that implied there was someone else with her when she passed.
Former Marine Lee Marvin Was A Pacifist And A Progressive
Lee Marvin served as a Marine in World War II, and the experience left him with scars both mental and physical (he was shot in the buttocks, and the bullet severed his sciatic nerve). Though he became a plumber after the war, he soon caught the acting bug, and turned out to be pretty good at it. He tended to play tough guys, for obvious reasons, and he gained a reputation for his drinking -- he was arguably the king of the macho drunks in Hollywood, which is saying something.
Though Marvin seemed born to play soldiers, he had a problem with war movies; having experienced the real thing, he strongly disliked movies that portrayed war as noble or glorious. One of his best-known films was The Dirty Dozen, but Marvin looked back on it as his least favorite because of its unrealistic depiction of war. Unlike many of the characters he played, Marvin turned out a pacifist with perhaps surprisingly progressive views. He shared his thoughts on homosexuality, at great length, in a 1969 interview with Playboy magazine. It was the year that gay New Yorkers were fighting for their rights in the Stonewall riots, and Marvin, an ex-marine and tough guy, told Hugh Hefner's publication that "We're all on the periphery of homosexual relationships, whether it's shooting the bull with the guys or whatever. ... Who knows where the sexual twist starts, and where it ends?"
His verdict on the law and morality was that "What transpires between two adults is definitely their own business." It seems a harmless view today, but Marvin's remarks were controversial at the time.
Audrey Hepburn's Parents Were Fascists Who Admired Hitler
Audrey Hepburn is best remembered for her performance as Holly Golightly, a girl from the sticks who reinvented herself as a New York City bon vivant, in Breakfast At Tiffany's. Her Texan husband Doc (Buddy Ebsen) tracks her down, creating a disconnect between the Holly we know and this hayseed from her past. Somewhat like that character, Hepburn herself had roots she needed to conceal.
Hepburn had been born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1929; her mother was Dutch nobility while her father was an English/Austrian mix. When Audrey was a child in the 1930s, her parents were very politically engaged, and not in a good way -- they admired the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, as well as Adolf Hitler, and traveled to meet both of them in person. Audrey's father walked out on the family when she was six years old, and she had no relationship with him of over 30 years. Though Hepburn was devastated, it was probably a good thing for the Hollywood career that followed -- having Nazi-sympathizer parents in the '50s was, to say the least, not a good look.
Judy Garland Was Drugged By Studio Handlers When She Was 16
There are train wrecks in Hollywood, and there's roadkill. Judy Garland was the latter. From the moment she got the job on the career-making film The Wizard Of Oz -- when the studio couldn't get Shirly Temple -- her fate was sealed. Garland was too old for the part, or so they said, and the schedule was grueling.
To make her appear younger, the 16-year-old Garland was put on a strict diet, and we're not talking Weight Watchers or Atkins. The studio had her on chicken soup, black coffee, 80 cigarettes per day, diet pills, and whatever uppers were called back then. The pills were particularly troublesome, as they sent her down a road of addiction for the rest of her life. Her teeth were capped and makeup artists inserted horrid-sounding "nose discs" into her nostrils to change its shape. Though Garland was constantly criticized for her appearance by studio executives including Louis B. Mayer of MGM, that didn't stop Mayer from harassing and groping her. Garland's life was never the same after The Wizard Of Oz -- she was famous, but famously miserable.
Mae West Wrote Scandalous And Depraved Blockbuster Movies
Mae West was a playwright who happened to be a bombshell actress and sex symbol as well. West's art was inseparable from her life; her plays and films were banned or censored, building her reputation as the most free-spirited and transgressive woman of the day. West's plays and films were constantly creating controversy, which of course sold a lot of tickets.
The Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code, was enacted in 1934 to ban or censor film that were contributing to America's moral decline, and Mae West's saucy oeuvre was in the crosshairs. Her first movie under the code guidelines was going to be called "It Ain't No Sin" -- 50 parrots were trained to say its title as a publicity stunt. Censors insisted that the title be changed, so the movie was actually released as Belle Of The Nineties.
The 50 parrots, still saying "It Ain't No Sin," were released into the wild, somewhere in South America.
Cary Grant's Middle Tooth Will Freak You Out
With his mid-Atlantic accent and dashing good looks, Cary Grant was one of the great leading men of Hollywood's Golden Age. He had been born Archie Leach in Bristol, England, but wisely chose his name when he got into showbiz. Actually, he was diplomatically advised by Paramount executives that his given name didn't sound right in America. "It doesn’t sound particularly right in Britain, either," he replied.
When Grant was a kid, he chipped a tooth ice skating, and it must have been a pretty bad chip -- to fix his smile, he went to a dental college and had the tooth removed. The other teeth were then slowly pushed together, filling in the gap. The tooth was a maxillary central incisor, one of the two big ones at the very center of the upper row. If you look closely at pictures of Grant, you'll see that he only has one large incisor where most people have two.
Hedy Lamarr Helped Defeat Nazis And Co-Invented Wi-Fi Technology
Austrian-born Hedy Lamarr, who starred in Lady of the Tropics, Algiers, Boom Town, Samson and Delilah, and Comrade X, was among the most beautiful actress of her day and a highly sought-after leading lady. But when she wasn’t starring on the big screen, Lamarr was a tinkerer. She loved inventing new machines and technologies. Lamarr had an idea for a way to keep the enemy from intercepting wartime transmissions.
Called “frequency hopping”, Lamarr’s invention allowed for the broadcaster and receiver of transmissions to continuously jump around from one radio frequency to another, in unison with each other, so that a third party, or the enemy, could not intercept the communication or jam the frequency, and thus interrupting the launching of torpedoes from ships or aircraft. Lamarr received a patent for her invention in August of 1942 and promptly donated it to the United States military that used it to help defeat the Nazis.
Together with her business partner, George Antheil, a renowned composer, Lamarr created what was referred to as a “secret communication system” that would use radio signals in the airways to guide bombs and torpedoes. This technology became the basis for WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth…all of which revolutionized the way we communicate and launched the mobile age.
The Rat Pack Started With Humphrey Bogart And Lauren Bacall
The Rat Pack was Frank Sinatra's crew, with Dean Martin, Sammy Davi Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford -- right? Well, the second version of it was, but in its first form the Rat Pack was a co-ed group of partiers that coalesced around Humphrey Bogart and included Sinatra, but none of the other guys. As the story goes, during one particularly loud and carousing night of drinking and partying, Bacall walked into see Bogart and friends enjoying themselves a bit too much. She stopped and said to them, "You look like a pack of rats." The name stuck.
According to Stephen Bogart, this original Rat Pack, also known as the Holmby Hills Rat Pack, had an official membership and several members had titles. The officers of the Rat Pack were Frank Sinatra (the "Pack Master"), Judy Garland (First Vice-President), Nicole Bassing (Den Mother), Sid Luft (Cage Master), Humphrey Bogart (Rat in Charge of Public Relations), Swifty Lazar (Recording Secretary and Treasurer), and the writer Nathaniel Benchley (Historian). Other official members included David Niven, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, George Cukor, Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, and Jimmy Van Heusen.
Ingrid Bergman Was 'A Powerful Influence For Evil'
Hey, celebrities have affairs. They split up and marry new people. This is not big news -- not now. But when Ingrid Bergman did it in 1950, it was a national sensation that even had the United States Senate weighing in. Bergman had signed on with director Roberto Rossellini to make Stromboli; she was a great admirer of the Italian director, and soon enough the two of them began a romantic relationship, even though both were married to other people.
Bergman got pregnant, and Bergman and Rossellini decided they'd divorce their spouses and get married. But the scandal was already set in motion. Colorado Senator Edwin Johnson, who had been a fan of Bergman, took to the Senate floor to denounce her, saying she "had perpetrated an assault upon the institution of marriage." She was, in his esteemed opinion, "a powerful influence for evil." Bergman let the American humorist Art Buchwald take a peek at her mail from the scandal; he later recalled "Oh, that mail was bad, ten, twelve, fourteen huge mail bags."
Charlie Chaplin Married Young Girls -- Habitually
Under the centuries-old traditions of patriarchy, it wasn't unusual for men to marry younger women. Still, there is a difference between a younger woman and a child bride. Charles "Charlie" Chaplin, a comedic genius of the silent film era, liked them young -- or, at least, kept marrying the young ones.
In 1918, the 29-year-old Chaplin was informed by 16-year-old actress Mildred Harris that she was pregnant with his child, so the couple got married. Harris wasn't actually pregnant at the time, but after they were wed, she became pregnant. The child was born, but did not survive. That relationship, unsurprisingly, had a bit too much baggage to succeed, and the couple were divorced in 1920. A similar situation arose in 1924, when 16-year-old actress Lita Grey announced she was carrying Chaplin's child -- the two were married in Mexico. This was no false alarm, and Grey bore Chaplin two sons. But the marriage was unhappy, and Grey left in 1926. When 43-year-old Chaplin met and fell for 21-year-old Paulette Goddard, the age difference was significant, but within the bounds of the law. Their marriage lasted six years. The 55-year-old Chaplin was fighting a paternity suit filed by Joan Barry, an actress in her early 20s, when he married Oona O'Neill, the 18-year-old daughter of American playwright Eugene O'Neill. This union lasted until the end of Chaplin's life, in 1977.
Brigitte Bardot Was A Lot Like Her Most Famous Character
When Brigitte Bardot played the sexually adventurous and insatiable Juliette in And God Created Woman, she established herself as the dominant "sex kitten" of European cinema. It was a role years in the making. Bardot, who'd grown up wanting to be a ballerina, attracted attention when she appeared on the cover of Elle in 1950 -- she was 15 at the time.
The man who took the most significant interest in the underage Bardot was Roger Vadim, a screenwriter who would become a successful director and legendary ladies' man. Vadim waited for Bardot to turn 18 before marrying her, and wrote scripts for her early films Plucking The Daisy and Naughty Girl, both released in 1956, when she was in her early 20s.
Bardot turned out to be much more like Juliette than Vadim might have wanted -- by the time And God Created Woman came out, his young wife was in the throes of an affair with her co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant. Vadim and Bardot divorced, and she lived with Trintignant. As Trintignant was frequently absent due to military service, Bardot began a relationship with musician Gilbert Becaud. C'est la vie.
Louise Brooks Was The Original Hollywood Bad Girl
Louise Brooks was a flapper idol, but the designation goes way beyond her Prince Valiant haircut, although she did singleheadedly make short hair the style of the truly hip. Brooks had joined up with a New York-based dance company while still in her teens, then graduated to the famous Ziegfeld Follies. She entranced men of the intellectual and thespian classes alike -- she was unique, beautiful, fond of brainy books and booze-fueled all-nighters.
She gained a reputation for her robust social life and fierce attitude -- she was a bit of a snake. The movie industry got more serious with the advent of talking pictures, and those participating in it had to grow up more than a little. Show up on time, learn your lines, the whole nine yards. Brooks wouldn't give up her carousing and libidinous ways, and she didn't much care for Hollywood anyway, so in 1928 she traveled to Berlin. She was 21 years old. There she made her two most famous films, Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, with German director G.W. Pabst. Brooks once recalled that a fellow actor had called her "a cheap, drunken tramp," and admitted that "he was right."
Marlon Brando Made Sinatra Eat It
Though they were both icons, Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando were worlds apart professionally. Sinatra placed a premium on getting things done, delivering a good show that made the audience happy. Brando, who popularized method acting, was a tortured artist on a personal journey, and Frank had no time for it. Sinatra said that Brando's famous "method" was "crap," and dubbed him "Mumbles" for his tendency to, well, mumble his lines.
Brando got back at Sinatra during the filming of Guys And Dolls, the musical in which they both starred. Sinatra once said "I don’t buy this take and retake jazz" -- and that was exactly the sort of jazz Brando was going to give him. In one scene, where Sinatra must eat a slice of cheesecake while Brando speaks, Brando kept intentionally flubbing his lines. It happened nine times -- after the ninth, Sinatra threw his plate down in disgust (and/or nausea), exclaiming, "These New York actors! How much cheesecake do you think I can eat?"
Vivien Leigh Turned Into Blanche DuBois
In 1951, Vivien Leigh won a second Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. Despite this success, the role had consequences. Leigh identified too deeply with the character, who is herself, teetering on the edge of madness. She would later claim that the role was what “tipped” her into madness.
After Streetcar, Leigh began filming Elephant Walk, but when she became paranoid and erratic and then started hallucinating, she was sent back to L.A. and the role went to Elizabeth Taylor. On the flight there, she attempted to jump out of the plane and then, while in Hollywood, she refused to come out of her dressing room, screaming lines from Blanche DuBois' dialogue. After then being sent to London, she was hospitalized and treated with electroshock therapy. Her illness led to an increased libido and several affairs, including one with Australian actor Peter Finch. Leigh's infidelity, coupled with her illness contributed to her divorce from Laurence Olivier after 20 years.
Peg Entwistle Was The Hollywood Sign Girl
It's ok if you don't know the name Peg Entwistle -- she's not famous like the other celebrities in this gallery. Hollywood is a town with many more tales of failure than success, and few of the failed attempts at stardom are ever told. Welsh-born Entwistle was a promising actress who'd made a name for herself on stage in Boston and New York. She appeared in one film, Thirteen Women, before going on to eternal infamy as the "Hollywood Sign Girl."
On September 16, 1932, 24-year-old Peg Entwistle climbed to the top of the H in the Hollywoodland sign (it was later shortened to Hollywood) and jumped to her death. What had gone so wrong in her life that she felt the need to end it all? She had been dropped from her RKO contract after filming was complete on Thirteen Women -- disappointing, but a common occurrence in Hollywood. The film had not yet been released, so she was not reacting to negative reviews (as some accounts claimed). Her uncle would later say that she suffered from depression. The suicide note found in her purse, at the foot of the sign, read:
I am afraid I’m a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.
Debbie Reynolds Got More Work Because Liz Taylor Stole Her Husband
Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher seemed like they were made for one another. They were both Hollywood wunderkinds who looked gorgeous standing next to one another, something that made them press magnets. The media loved them, and when they married in 1955 the became the vision of the All-American family, complete with two children, Carrie and Todd. At the time, Reynolds and Fisher were great friends with Elizabeth Taylor and her husband Mike Todd. When Mike Todd passed away, Fisher went to console his grieving friend and his companionship turned into a full-on romantic relationship.
Reynolds and Fisher divorced, Fisher lost his TV show, and Elizabeth Taylor lost a friend. Rather than sweep the whole thing under the rug, MGM put Fisher's actions on the front page of every magazine. In 2017, Reynolds told Vanity Fair:
[MGM] saw the situation, and they smelled the situation, and I was simply destroyed by it, but at the time, they were my publicity people. They owned me—I was under contract, so they put me into pictures right away. I did like four or five pictures right away, during the Eddie Fisher phase. They were taking a young talent that was nobody and she happened to fall into a scandal.
Studio Executives Were Underwhelmed By Fred Astaire. Very Underwhelmed
Fred Astaire got his start in a sibling act, performing vaudeville with his sister Adele. The duo debuted on Broadway with Over the Top in 1917. They continued to appear together in movies up through 1931's The Band Wagon. Then Adele left show business in 1932 to marry Lord Cavendish, thus ending a 27-year collaboration with her brother.
Fred Astaire was famous and successful, but something of an unknown quantity without Adele. After a successful pair splits up, what will you get from one half -- a Paul Simon or an Art Garfunkel? Astaire performed a screen test, but the feedback he received was quite discouraging. Executives reported that Astaire:
Can’t act, can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little.
Despite this negative response, he was cast in Dancing Lady in 1933, a film which featured Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, and The Three Stooges.
Omar Sharif Ended Up Tied To A Camel, Upside Down
There were a lot of drunken hijinks on the set of Lawrence of Arabia -- with so many hard-living English actors in one place, elbow-bending is unavoidable, especially when one of those actors is Peter O'Toole. Unfortunately there were also more than a few injuries. Even though O’Toole bled from his bum while riding his camel and suffered sprains, burns, and cuts, the worst indignity was suffered by co-star Omar Sharif.
O’Toole explained that one day he and Sharif were so drunk that they hatched the idea of tying themselves to their camels, but only Sharif actually went through with it. The two of them loaded up on a cocktail of brandy and milk, then went on a camel ride to the sea. O'Toole recalled their arrival for NPR:
We made it. We got to the other end all right, right to the sea. And I stood on my camel, we stood in the water, and I looked, and to my right was Omar. And he was still tied to the camel but hanging on upside-down.
Kim Novak Wouldn't Put Up With Studio Abuse, And Left Hollywood In Her Prime
On top of being a human, Kim Novak was an actress with legitimate credits in big movies -- namely Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and the Frank Sinatra films The Man with the Golden Arm and Pal Joey. But she hated being under the thumb of Columbia Pictures honcho Harry Cohn. In a particularly gross display of power, Cohn threatened to blind Sammy Davis Jr. when he sensed that Davis and Novak might be developing a romantic relationship.
After a mudslide destroyed her Los Angeles home, Novak took drastic measures, leaving Hollywood in 1966. "So I rented this van and took what was important to me," she said. "The mudslide was telling me: 'Your time is up; take off while you can.'" After a fire burned down her coastal home, Novak lived in Big Sur and later in Oregon, enjoying a life of semi-retirement where she could pick and choose her occasional projects without taking orders from a studio.
Groucho Marx's Mustache And Eyebrows Were Fake As Hell, And Looked It
Early in his career, Groucho performed wearing a fake mustache that he carefully glued on in his dressing room before each performance. According to legend, Groucho was running late one day and arrived at the theatre for a performance of the Marx Brothers show I’ll Say She Is with little time to prepare.
He quickly drew a mustache on his face using greasepaint, which he decided he liked better than his prop mustache. Not only was it faster to apply, it was also easier to remove. His oversize, exaggerated mustache and accompanying eyebrows eventually became Groucho Marx's signature look, but later, as the host of popular quiz show You Bet Your Life, Groucho actually grew a real mustache.
Lois Maxwell's Modesty Landed Her The Role Of Miss Moneypenny
Two key actresses in Dr. No, the first James Bond movie, were Lois Maxwell and Miss Gayson. Maxwell had been tapped to play Sylvia Trench, Agent 007's girlfriend, while Gayson would play Miss Moneypenny, secretary of M, who was James Bond's boss. Sounds about right, doesn't it? No, of course not. But that was an early plan.
After Maxwell accepted the role of Sylvia, she decided she didn't like the immodest ways of Bond's girlfriend, who appears in one scene putting golf balls wearing nothing but heels and Bond's shirt. Maxwell and Gayson swapped roles, leading to a sustained gig for Maxwell that continued for 14 films: six starring Sean Connery, one with George Lazenby, and the remaining seven with Roger Moore. Gayson's character of Sylvia Trench was meant to be a recurring presence -- a running gag in which Bond was always called away on business just as things were getting steamy -- but that idea was scrapped by the director of Goldfinger. It was just as well for Gayson, who'd been cast in the Broadway production of The Sound Of Music, which would have been a conflict.