Honey Ryder, Pussy Galore, Goldfinger

Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in Dr No was perhaps the most famous of the early Bond girls. But did Ian Fleming name Honey Ryder after the beautiful blonde Muriel Wright, who was nicknamed Honeytop?

Ben McIntyre, author of a new Fleming biography, does not say so in his article in The Times but says the wealthy aristocrat, who made a lot of money modelling swimsuits on the beach at Monte Carlo, loved Fleming. But Fleming called her “Mu”, not “Honeytop”.

McIntyre says Fleming named many of his characters after friends and acquaintances, some of whom did not like that, though. The architect Auric Goldfinger threatened to halt publication of the thriller, Goldfinger, when he discovered the villain was named after him. McIntyre writes:

Fleming is said to have disapproved of Goldfinger’s love of concrete and the destruction of Victorian houses to make way for tower blocks, and so used his name for one of his most memorable evil-doers.

The villains Hugo Drax in Goldfinger, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the evil head of SPECTRE, and Francisco “Pistols” Scaramanga, who appears in The Man with the Golden Gun, were apparently named after Old Etonians who had been in school with Fleming.

But where did Pussy Galore get her name? Remember the Bond girl from Goldfinger played by Honor Blackman?

McIntyre does not go into that, but his article makes enjoyable reading. It even begins like a story:

One morning in February 1952, in a holiday hideaway on the island of Jamaica, a middle-aged British journalist sat down at his desk and set about inventing a fictional secret agent, a character that would go on to become one of the most successful, enduring and lucrative creations in literature. Ian Fleming had never written a novel before. He had tried his hand at banking, stockbroking and working as a newspaper correspondent. Only during the war, as an officer in naval intelligence, had he found a task – dreaming up schemes to bamboozle the enemy – worthy of his vivid imagination. By 1952, he had settled into a job as a writer and manager on The Sunday Times, a role that involved some enjoyable travel, a little work and a lot of golf, women and lunch. Even his best friends would have snorted at the notion that Ian Fleming was destined for immortality.

Oh well, read on the Times article. YouTube has the famous scene from Dr No. It’s pretty amusing. The year was 1962.

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