Jill St. John Young, Then And Now: A Bond Girl's Career
By | April 5, 2020
As the first American to play a Bond girl, Jill St. John cemented her place in film history with her turn as Tiffany Case in Diamonds are Forever (1971). But St. John was a well-known actress before Bond, and her career continued long afterward -- her list of co-stars, in addition to Sean Connery, runs the gamut from Jerry Lewis to Dean Martin to Robert Wagner, and even Adam West, TV's Batman. St. John has been in the business since she was child, and she even popped up on Seinfeld in the ‘90s. Few Bond Girls can boast the longevity of Jill St. John.
Jill was acting from a young age
St. John is a Los Angeles native, the kind of person who you assume will end up in the movie business some day, but she wasn’t always a St. John. She was born Jill Arlyn Oppenheim in 1940 and studied at the Children's Ballet Company with Natalie Wood. She was Tinseltown through and through. While Jill was studying ballet her mother changed her last name to St. John to make her more "Hollywood" sounding. As stage-mommish as that sounds, it worked. St. John began acting on the radio when she was only six and she made her screen debut in a made-for-TV presentation of A Christmas Carol in 1949. While regular kids were going to school St. John was acting alongside George Burns and appearing on television regularly. She graduated from high school when she was 14 years old and enrolled at UCLA’s extension school the next year.