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Remembering Tania Mallet !

The "Other Golden Girl" of Goldfinger.

She assumed the role of the “other Golden Girl,” Tilly, who was the sibling of Jill Masterson. Her mission was to seek vengeance for her sister’s death, a tragic incident in which Jill suffocated after being coated in gold paint by Auric Goldfinger.

Born during World War II in Blackpool, England, Tania received her education in both Britain and France. She embarked on her modeling career at just 16 when she joined the Lucy Clayton school for models, eventually ascending to become one of the UK’s most celebrated models during the early 1960s.

Tania Mallet
Tania Mallet

Tania’s striking and unique features, crowned with blonde hair, graced the covers of numerous prominent fashion magazines. It wasn’t long before the Bond producers noticed her during their search for actresses for the 007 adventures. They soon approached her, conducting a screen test and considering her for the lead female role in “From Russia With Love” (1963). Although she lost the part to Daniela Bianchi for Sean Connery’s second Bond film, Tania was offered the role of Tilly Masterson in Connery’s third James Bond movie. In hindsight, she questioned whether entering the world of movies had been the right decision, as her income as a top model, around £2,000 per week (a substantial sum at the time), significantly surpassed her earnings from big-screen work.

Tania Mallet Modeling
Tania Mallet Modeling

Interestingly, after her involvement with “Goldfinger” concluded, Tania swiftly returned to the world of modeling. In later interviews, she mentioned feeling somewhat confined during her six months on the set of “Goldfinger,” with extended periods of downtime between takes. Additionally, the constant media attention that came with the Bond phenomenon could be challenging, and she expressed feeling more at ease in a small photographic modeling studio.

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Nevertheless, when speaking with Bond historian and journalist Tim Greaves in the late 1990s, Tania conveyed her enjoyment of working on the third 007 film and had warm praise for Sean Connery: “Sean was wonderful. He was so helpful. Now, looking back, I realize just how generous and wonderful he was.” She also fondly remembered Harold Sakata, who portrayed Auric Goldfinger’s henchman, ‘Oddjob,’ as the “cuddliest, kindest man you could possibly imagine.” Tania’s scenes were filmed in Black Park, located just behind the main Pinewood Studios (which served as the backdrop for Goldfinger’s Swiss factory), and also on location in picturesque Alpine areas in Switzerland.

Tania Mallet in "Goldfinger"
Tania Mallet in “Goldfinger”

Reflecting on her time filming in Black Park, Tania also shared with Tim Greaves that the scene where Oddjob killed her with his steel-rimmed bowler hat had been particularly challenging. Director Guy Hamilton insisted on multiple takes with “endless close-ups” from various angles. Nevertheless, in 1998, she remarked, “if you’re going to make one movie in life, why not Goldfinger?”

In her later years, Tania came to appreciate the fan base she had garnered as a member of the unique club known as the ‘Bond Women.’ She participated in various Bond-related events and reunions in recent years. The official James Bond website paid tribute, expressing their condolences and stating they were “very sorry” to hear of Tania’s passing: “Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”

Tania Mallet in "Goldfinger"
Tania Mallet in “Goldfinger”

Table of Contents

Biography

  • Early Life: Tania Mallet was born on May 19, 1941, in Blackpool, England, during World War II. She received her education both in Britain and France.
  • Modeling Career: Tania began her modeling career at the age of 16 when she joined the Lucy Clayton School for Models. She quickly rose to prominence and became one of the UK’s most celebrated models during the early 1960s. Her striking features and blonde hair graced the covers of numerous prominent fashion magazines.
  • Transition to Acting: While she was primarily known as a model, Tania Mallet’s connection to the world of acting came when she was approached by Bond producers for a screen test. Although she didn’t secure the lead female role in “From Russia With Love,” she was cast as Tilly Masterson in “Goldfinger.
  • Return to Modeling: After her role in “Goldfinger,” Tania briefly returned to the world of modeling. She mentioned in interviews that the constant media attention and extended periods of downtime on the movie set made her appreciate the modeling world.
  • Bond Legacy: Despite her reservations about the film industry, Tania Mallet’s role in “Goldfinger” secured her a lasting place in the Bond legacy. She spoke fondly of her time working on the film and praised her co-stars, particularly Sean Connery and Harold Sakata.
  • Later Years: In her later years, Tania came to appreciate her status as a “Bond Woman” and participated in various Bond-related events and reunions. She remained connected to the Bond fan base and received tributes from official Bond-related sources upon her passing.
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Filmography

  1. Goldfinger (1964) – Tilly Masterson: Tania Mallet’s most famous role was in the iconic James Bond film “Goldfinger.” She portrayed Tilly Masterson, a character seeking revenge for her sister’s death, and her performance left a lasting impression on Bond fans.
  2. Gauri (1968) – Gauri: Tania Mallet appeared in the Indian film “Gauri,” where she played the titular character.

Tania Mallet (1941-2019), may she rest in peace.

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