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Lois Maxwell As Moneypenny: The Bond Girl Who Resisted Three 007s

Entertainment | February 14, 2021

Lois Maxwell and Sean Connery in 'Goldfinger.' Source: IMDB

Miss Moneypenny, played by Lois Maxwell, was the constant Bond Girl, sparring with 007 through the Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Roger Moore eras. The secretary of James Bond's boss, the man known as M, Moneypenny was the one woman who was totally off-limits to the legendary ladykiller. In lieu of sex, there was heavy flirting and innuendo, the sort of office banter that wouldn't fly today. Moneypenny loved it because -- according to Maxwell -- she was in love with Bond, but knew she'd never have him. In all, Lois Maxwell played Moneypenny in 14 Bond movies in a run that lasted over 20 years.

Lois Maxwell Was Canadian

Lois Maxwell in her iconic role. Source: (Pinterest).

Lois Maxwell may have been best known for her role as Miss Moneypenny, but she had an interesting life before her career-defining part. She was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in 1927, and ran away at the age of 15 to join the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. She became part of the Army Show in Canada, and later was in the Canadian Auxiliary Services Entertainment Unit, and was posted to Britain. While there, she performed to entertain the troops. However, her age was discovered in London, and she was discharged, and she then enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. While there, she became friends with Roger Moore, her future James Bond colleague. 

Lois Maxwell's Life Before Bond

With Shirley Temple in That Hagen Girl. Source: (Pinterest)

In 1946, She began her movie career in two uncredited roles: one in A Matter of Life and Death, a British fantasy/romance film and one in Springtime. After she moved to Hollywood at the age of 20, she was cast in the Shirley Temple drama, That Hagen Girl (1947) and won the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer. In 1949, she appeared with Marilyn Monroe in a photo spread in Life. After this seemingly auspicious beginning, she appeared mainly in B-movies and returned to Europe. She lived in Rome from 1950-1955, made a few films, and, for a brief period of time, was an amateur race car driver. She met Peter Marriott while in Paris, and they married and moved to London. The couple had two children, a son and a daughter.  

She Landed A Career Defining Role In 'Dr. No'

With Sean Connery in Dr. No. Source: (YouTube)

In 1962, she had a minor role as a nurse in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita. After her husband had a heart attack in 1962, her family needed the money, so she tried to get a role in the James Bond film, Dr. No. Terence Young, the director, offered her a choice of two roles: Miss Moneypenny or Sylvia Trench, Bond’s girlfriend. Maxwell was uncomfortable with one of the scenes in the screenplay, a revealing scene, so she took the role of Miss Moneypenny. Maxwell did not make much money for this first appearance as Moneypenny, and she even had to use her own clothes for filming. She continued to appear as Moneypenny, but the role was almost recast when she asked for a pay raise for 1971’s Diamond’s Are Forever.   

Moneypenny Became One Of The Constants For Bond

With Roger Moore in Live and Let Die. Source: (Screenmusings)

In 1973, when Roger Moore assumed the role of Bond, Maxwell stayed on as Moneypenny. She appeared for the last time as the character in View to a Kill (1985).  Over the course of her career, she played the role for a total of 14 movies. Miss Moneypenny, M’s flirtations secretary, acted as an “anchor” as she added realism to the movies. Because there was no possibility of a relationship with Bond, he and Moneypenny could engage in double entendres as he tested out his pickup lines on her. Their relationship did not stretch beyond the occasional sensual contact, but she remained unreachable. In an interview with Roger Ebert in 1967, Maxwell stated that Moneypenny was in love with Bond, but would never get him. One of Maxwell’s strengths in this role was her ability to act opposite different actors playing Bond. She maintained the role and the chemistry with very different Bonds, keeping the balance between not appearing available and not being too aloof. She also had to remain unflappable as she rebuffed Bond’s outrageous pickup lines.  

Saying Goodbye To Bond

Source: (James Bond 007).

In 1985, with her final appearance, she asked for the character to be killed off, but instead, the producer, Cubby Broccoli recast Miss Moneypenny. After leaving the franchise, she a handful of television appearances (during the Bond years, she had also had minor television appearances, as well as the occasional small role in other films). After her death, her long-time friend, Moore, said that Maxwell wanted the role of M after Moore retired, but was turned down.  

Life After Bond

In her final role, with Jeremy Irons. Source: (MUBI).

Maxwell began writing a column for the Toronto Sun in 1979. Her columns were mainly about the movies and her nomadic lifestyle. She stopped writing for the Sun in 1994, and then moved to Fremantle, Australia in 2001, after her final film, The Fourth Angel, with Jeremy Irons. She died in Australia on September 29, 2007 after a battle with cancer.  

Tags: Bond Girls | George Lazenby | James Bond | Ladies | Lois Maxwell | Roger Moore | Sean Connery

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Cyn Felthousen-Post

Writer

Cyn loves history, music, Irish dancing, college football and nature. Social media is also her thing, keeping up with trends and celebrities with positive news. She can be found outside walking or hiking with her son when she's not working. Carpe diem is her fave quote, get out there and seize the day!