Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Last week Paul Bishop--a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as an author and blogger--posted the photo above on his Facebook page. Its subject is Linda Christian (1923-2011), a Mexican-born actress who’s said to have relocated to Hollywood after enjoying a romantic fling with Errol Flynn, and who went on to appear in a variety of movies and TV shows on both sides of the border.
More interesting for Rap Sheet readers is that Christian starred alongside actor Barry Nelson in a one-hour American TV adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953). She played Valerie Mathis, a character who isn’t in the book but who stood in for the more-familiar Vesper Lynd (and, like Lynd, eventually betrayed Bond). This version of Casino Royale, broadcast on October 21, 1954, as part of the CBS-TV series Climax! and re-casting Fleming’s man as a CIA agent, “Jimmy” Bond, predated Sean Connery’s debut as Agent 007, in Dr. No, by eight years. That earns it a solid place in the history books as the earliest filming of a Bond tale and makes Linda Christian Hollywood’s original “Bond girl.” (Sorry, Ursula Andress.)
Better still, yesterday I found the full hour of that 1954 small-screen version of Casino Royale on YouTube, split six ways: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI. If you’d like a taste of the show, below is a clip featuring Nelson’s Bond, playing baccarat with the tale’s antagonist, Le Chiffre (portrayed by the great Peter Lorre).
READ MORE: “Beautiful Portraits of the First Bond Girl, Linda Christian, in 1945” (Vintage Everyday); “Casino Royale (1954), a Reappraisal,” by Bill Koening (The HMSS Weblog).