Bond’s secret girl: Unknown artist dubbed the voices of 007′s best-known beauties – but know she’s banned from the movies spy’s 50th birthday party!
For years she delivered some of the sultriest lines in movie history – without ever appearing on screen.
Unbeknown to millions of James Bond fans, Nikki van der Zyl was the voice behind the seductive utterances of many of the super-spy’s most glamorous conquests.
So when Ursula Andress emerged from the sea as Honey Ryder in a white bikini in Dr No – the first Bond movie in 1962 – it was Miss van der Zyl who spoke her lines.
And when Shirley Eaton played Jill Masterson – murdered by being coated in gold in 1964’s Goldfinger – it was also Miss van der Zyl’s voice cinemagoers heard.
In fact, ‘revoice’ artist Miss van der Zyl, 77, has spoken for Bond girls Eunice Gayson (Sylvia Trench in 1963’s From Russia with Love), Nadja Regin (Bonita in Goldfinger), Claudine Auger (Domino Derval in 1965’s Thunderball), Mie Hama (Kissy Suzuki in 1967’s You Only Live Twice) and Francoise Therry (Chew Mee in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun).
She even partly revoiced Jane Seymour (Solitaire in 1973’s Live and Let Die) and many other smaller roles.
She reveals that Miss Andress had ‘a strong Swiss-German accent’ that producers feared would not be understood by US audiences.
Of Miss Eaton, she said she realised immediately why she was nicknamed ‘the Cockney bombshell’.
However, despite her contribution – working on all but one Bond film from Dr No in 1962 through to Moonraker in 1979 – she had never been given a film credit and receives no royalties.
Now she says she has been banned from attending events marking a half century of 007 films because her presence might embarrass Miss Eaton.
Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Dr No and a number of events are being held to mark the occasion.
But Miss van der Zyl says she has been barred from the celebrations and has had her name removed from an official Bond website.
She claims the dispute started over an event in London today celebrating Goldfinger. The organisers of Goldfinger Day withdrew an invitation to her, saying that Miss Eaton had ‘been difficult’ about her attending.
When she protested, another invitation to a Bond convention in November was also withdrawn. Then, an official Bond website Bondstars removed her name from its list of contributors, effectively erasing her role in the films.
Miss van der Zyl said: ‘In the past 50 years, I’ve had no acknowledgement of my work. The costume designer and the set designer get credits on the closing sequences, but my role was never recognised.
‘It’s like they want to pretend I never even existed because some of the Bond girls are sensitive about their voices.’
Following the withdrawal of Miss van der Zyl’s invitation to the Goldfinger event, officials from Bondstars, a company based at Pinewood which markets official 007 merchandise, wrote to her in July to end its association with her. In the letter, seen by the Mail, they said: ‘There have always been sensitivities involved with actors in the series who were dubbed.’
Miss van der Zyl, of Whetstone, North London, added: ‘Originally, the organisers were very keen to work with me when they asked me to speak at Goldfinger Day.
‘But two months later, they phoned to say it was off because Shirley Eaton didn’t want me there. I was very angry initially. Many of the Bond girls built their careers on their performances in the films, which in part was due to my voice.
‘I don’t want much, just professional recognition.’
In her soon-to-be-published autobiography, For Your Ears Only which features a foreword from ex-007 Sir Roger Moore, she discusses how she landed her job on Dr No.
She says: ‘The problem with Ursula Andress was that not only did she have a strong Swiss-German accent, but she tended to put the emphasis of a word on the wrong syllable. They felt her accent might be too difficult for the American audience to understand and, in any case, it wasn’t sexy enough.’
Miss van der Zyl said that after filming finished on 1964’s Goldfinger, the producers said they were unhappy with Miss Eaton’s voice.
She said: ‘When they wanted me to revoice Shirley Eaton, I asked them why it was necessary.
‘Having heard her, I realised immediately why she had been known as the Cockney Bombshell. I was asked to give her a softer and more sexy voice.’
A spokesman for Bondstars declined to comment. Thomas Bowington, organiser of Goldfinger Day, said: ‘Nikki is a wonderful person, but unfortunately she has alienated so many people by saying negative things about them in interviews.
‘Shirley was the very first person I asked to attend this event and the momentum built around her. People come to see Shirley Eaton, not Nikki van der Zyl.’
A spokesman for Miss Eaton declined to comment.
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