Guest Blogger: Tom DeMichael, author of James Bond FAQ. Happy birthday to actress Eunice Gayson (Sylvia Trench), who wrote the foreword to the book.
For those readers who have never paid much attention to their books, you should note that many of them have a “foreword” at the front (of course, if it were at the rear, it would probably be called a “backward…”) The foreword is usually penned by someone famous, or at least closely associated with the book’s subject. The purpose of the foreword is to establish immediate credibility with the reader, since the notoriety of its writer is basically an endorsement of the book – Voila! Instant approval (and a not-too-sneaky way of boosting sales.)
When writing the James Bond FAQ (due for release in February of 2013 by Applause Theater and Cinema Books,) the question came: Who could I get to write a foreword? It had to be someone (as noted above) closely associated with the 007 franchise and, if possible, have some amount of fame. Although I had made some nice connections while researching the book, I realized that their work behind-the-scenes would carry little weight with everyone except the most hardcore of Bond fans.
To paraphrase an old adage: Don’t put all your Walthers in one holster. In other words, I couldn’t reach out to just one person and ask them to write my foreword. A refusal from that one person would have been, like many sports contests, “one and done.” So, who would I ask? I figured it should be someone with an extended legacy in the 007 films and, ideally, still living (which immediately eliminated great candidates like Bernard Lee, who played M in eleven Bond films, Lois Maxwell, Miss Moneypenny in fourteen 007 flicks, and Desmond Llewelyn, who portrayed quartermaster Q in seventeen James Bond features.)
I flagged fourteen people closely associated with the James Bond films – mostly performers who would be immediately recognizable and, by most definitions, very famous. I will let your imagination wander as to their identities and tell you I received two very nice responses from two very nice performers – the rest of them, as might be expected, seemed to have lost my email address or phone number. From the two respondents, I chose a very wonderful actress and a lady with a long career in film and television. After reading an advance copy of the manuscript (thank goodness for PDF files,) she wrote a very nice, clever, and humbling foreword for the James Bond FAQ. When you buy the book, it will be one of the first things you read.
Known as “The First Lady of Bond,” Eunice Gayson will forever be associated with the character of Sylvia Trench in Dr. No and From Russia With Love, the first two Bond films. Clad in a sophisticated red dress, Trench first encountered Bond at the casino in Dr. No. Gayson was honored with perhaps the greatest setup line for a character’s introduction in film history, when Trench stated, “I admire your luck, Mr…?” Sean Connery replied with the iconic words that every cinema 007 has uttered for the last fifty years: “Bond. James Bond.” Later, she showed her fabulous legs by practicing her putting while wearing one of Bond’s shirts and little else. In From Russia With Love, she and 007 enjoyed a shoreside tryst before a phone call from Bond’s office broke the magic of the moment.
Born in England in 1931, Ms. Gayson studied music and dance as a teen before going into repertory theater. At age seventeen, she earned her first film role in My Brother Jonathan, with more parts in British movies and television shows during the 1950’s.
She joined the group of comics known for BBC Radio’s Goon Show in a TV movie called Goonreel in 1952. The troupe included Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, and Harry Seacombe. Gayson also joined the Goons for a follow-up film, Down Among the Z Men. In 1957, she starred with Peter Cushing in The Revenge of Frankenstein, Hammer Films’ follow-up to the shocking Curse of Frankenstein.
Having worked with director Terence Young in the 1950’s, Gayson was easily cast in Dr. No, with Young’s intention of bringing Gayson and the character of Trench back in every subsequent 007 film. Every time, the romance between Bond and Trench would be cut short just when things would get interesting. Unfortunately, the idea died when Guy Hamilton came in to direct Goldfinger.
Gayson continued to appear on British television through the 1960’s and early 1970’s, including The Saint, The Avengers, and Secret Agent, starring Patrick McGoohan. Retiring afterward, she returned to the London stage in 1990 to play Little Red Riding Hood’s granny in the musical, Into the Woods. She remains active today, often appearing at film conventions, where she connects with fans from around the world.
I consider myself to be very fortunate to have Ms. Gayson open my book and, to the others who missed out – you’re still part of the greatest film series around.
James Bond FAQ is a book that takes on the iconic cinema franchise that’s lasted for so many years. Sometimes serious as SPECTRE, sometimes quirkier than Q, but always informative, this FAQ takes the reader behind-the-scenes, as well as in front of the silver screen. Everyone’s included: Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, and Craig; little-known facts about TV’s first shot at 007, the same Bond story that was made into two different films; whatever happened to those wonderful cars and gizmos that thrilled everyone; plus much more. It’s a book for the casual, as well as hardcore, James Bond fan.