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Jill Masterson was the fictional aide-de-camp of billionaire industrialist, Auric Goldfinger, whom James Bond catches helping the villain cheat at a game of cards. A secondary Bond girl, she was based on the literary character Jill Masterton, who first appeared in the 1959 Ian Fleming novel Goldfinger, she was portrayed by British actress and model Shirley Eaton in its 1964 film adaptation of the same name and also appeared briefly in Activision's 2012 James Bond video game, 007 Legends. Although only a small part in the film, Jill's death from "skin suffocation" have become an iconic scene on the cinema's history.

Biography

Background

Jill Masterson unwittingly got herself involved with the obsessive and pathological criminal, Auric Goldfinger. She quickly became his kept lady and helped him win at cards and to be "seen" with him. She can see Goldfinger's opponent’s cards through her high-powered binoculars. She communicates via radio with Goldfinger (who receives the messages through a false hearing aid), telling him what cards his opponent has and what is going on in the game.

Goldfinger (film)

When CIA operative Felix Leiter meets James Bond at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, and tells him M wants him to look into Auric Goldfinger, he points out Goldfinger's astonishing luck at cards. Bond observes a game of Gin Rummy between Goldfinger and Simmons, and suspects some foul play. He sneaks into Goldfinger's suite and finds Jill lying on a sun-bed on the balcony. 007 questions the young woman, and after implying otherwise, discovers that their relationship is merely professional. He uses the radio to talk to his boss, threatening to call the Miami Beach Police unless he loses the money he has gained by cheating.

Jill is impressed by Bond's daring move, and the two of them go back to his hotel suite. But Goldfinger, out of pettiness and massive greed for losing a small amount of money, is angered by her betrayal, and gets his revenge, sending his henchman Oddjob to kill her. Oddjob knocks her unconscious and paints her entire body in gold paint, causing her to die from skin asphyxiation.

Jill's sister, Tilly, attempts to avenge her sister by assassinating Goldfinger. Unfortunately she fails each time, and her persistence leads to her own death, struck in the neck by Oddjob's steel-rimmed hat.

Behind the scenes

Jill Masterson's corpse painted in gold.

Shirley Eaton was sent by her agent to meet producer Harry Saltzman and agreed to take the part if the nudity was done tastefully. It took an hour and a half to apply the paint to her body.[1] Although the character of Jill Masterson only appears in the film for less than ten minutes, the scene with her painted in gold remains one of the most striking in the whole Bond series. In November 1964, this image caused a sensation when it was recreated on the front cover of Life magazine. The bizarre nature of her death is explained as "skin suffocation", an entirely fictional cause of death, but the iconic scene caused much of the public to accept it as a medical fact.[2] Although attributed to have happened to cabaret dancers, the validity of actually dying from this method has been questioned. Her character's death led to an urban myth that Eaton had died during filming.[3] Another urban legend circulated that the scene was inspired by a Swiss model who accidentally died the same way, while preparing for a photo shoot.[4]) The film's marketing campaign began as soon as filming started in Florida, with EON Productions allowing photographers to enter the set to take pictures of Shirley Eaton painted in gold. She is most recognized for appearing in the film and numerous advertisements covered head to toe in gold paint. It must be noted that the gold-painted girl in the opening credits of the film is not Eaton, but rather Margaret Nolan, who plays Dink, Bond's Miami masseuse.

In the 2008 film Quantum of Solace, as a homage to Jill's death, MI6 agent Strawberry Fields is drowned in crude oil by Quantum. Her naked, oil-covered body is left at the hotel room in which the two had slept together, draped over the bed in a similar pose to Eaton. (Both of these scenes also have a link to the Beatles.)

Gallery

Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton)/Gallery

Trivia

  • Despite being considered the film's primary Bond girl, the Bond girl timeline lists her as an enemy to Bond. She is essentially Goldfinger's henchwoman, though never really does anything directly against Bond.
  • Unless one is to count Tatiana Romanova, Jill is the first Bond girl in the series to start out as a henchwoman to the main villain, before betraying their employer after being persuaded by Bond, though she is one of the few not to become an ally to Bond, instead only becoming his lover. This is a tradition that would be used in many more Bond films.
  • Jill is the first woman that Bond fails to protect from death.

References

  1. "Bond: The Legend: 1962–2002", Empire, pp. 7–9. 
  2. (2017) "Skin Suffocation". JAMA Dermatology 153 (8): 744. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.1880. ISSN 2168-6068. PMID 28793164.
  3. Blauvelt, Christian (17 July 2018). Goldfinger and the myth of a Bond girl's death. BBC.
  4. Lily Rothman. "James Bond, Declassified: 50 Things You Didn't Know About 007", 2012-09-27. 

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