The brunette beauty, the first Bond Girl – on TV – was 87

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 25, 2011 08:00 AM
Linda Christian
Credit: Popperfoto/Getty Images

Linda Christian, a 1940s Hollywood starlet remembered for her marriage to leading man Tyrone Power and for the distinction of being the first Bond Girl – though on the small screen – died in Palm Desert, Calif, Friday after a battle with colon cancer, say published reports. She was 87.

A brunette beauty born Blanca Rosa Welter in Mexico, Christian was discovered in Acapulco by Warner Bros.’ swashbuckler Errol Flynn before she eventually signed with MGM after she was spotted by studio chief Louis B. Mayer’s secretary.

Life magazine, in writing of her curves, dubbed her the “anatomic bomb.”

She married 20th Century Fox’s biggest star, Tyrone Power, in 1949. The marriage ended in a 1956 divorce, though it did produce two daughters, singer Romina Power and actress Taryn Power. (Tyrone Power died in 1958.) In the ’60s, she was also briefly married to the actor Edmund Purdom.

Christian starred as Vesper Lynd, James Bond’s romantic interest, in the 1954 TV adaptation of Casino Royale, with Barry Nelson as 007. The episode was part of a CBS dramatic anthology series called Climax!. Author Ian Fleming’s character was so new that Bond was called “Jimmy.”

Christian’s best-known film was 1963’s The V.I.P.s, which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton immediately after they did Cleopatra. Christian played the gold-digging girlfriend of Rod Taylor’s character.

Besides her daughters, she is also survived by eight grandchildren.