Lois Maxwell

Actress who played Miss Moneypenny in 14 Bond films

Monday 01 October 2007 00:00 BST

Lois Hooker (Lois Maxwell), actress: born Kitchener, Ontario 14 February 1927; married 1957 Peter Marriott (died 1973; one son, one daughter); died Fremantle, Western Australia 29 September 2007.

Few performers have been so identified with one role as Lois Maxwell, who played James Bond's gently bantering, romantically inclined associate Miss Moneypenny in 14 of the Bond screen adventures. Though it could be considered sad that so accomplished an actress and charming a personality should have been so typecast, it did make Maxwell an internationally known name.

She appeared in more Bond films than either Sean Connery or Roger Moore, her total of 14 exceeded only by Desmond Llewelyn, who played the arms controller "Q" in 17 of the movies. Moore, who had been a student with Maxwell at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1944, said "she was always fun and she was wonderful to be with". Moneypenny's relationship with Bond, and her resistance to his flirtatious jesting (though she was obviously attracted to him) were an ongoing delight throughout the early movies, and an element lacking from the original Ian Fleming novels.

Born Lois Hooker in Ontario in 1927, she began her career in radio (against her parents' wishes) using the name Robin Wells, and at the age of 15 she moved to the UK with the Entertainment Corps of the Canadian army. After attending Rada, she had small roles in two British films, Powell and Pressburger's fantasy, A Matter of Life and Death and Montgomery Tully's operetta Spring Song (both 1946).

She then went to Hollywood under contract to Warner Bros, playing her first major role in the studio's That Hagen Girl (1947), a film notable only for the efforts the star Ronald Reagan made to get out of making it. Reagan, whom Maxwell later confessed to finding "handsome and attractive", played a lawyer who falls in love with a young girl (Shirley Temple) whom town gossips suspect of being his illegitimate daughter. Maxwell was a sympathetic schoolteacher who supports Temple and has a romance with Reagan, and she made enough impact to be awarded a Golden Globe as the year's "best newcomer". She was also part of a photo spread in Life magazine in 1949 featuring eight beauteous starlets including Marilyn Monroe.

When Warners failed to promote her career, giving her unrewarding roles in the minor movies The Big Punch and The Decision of Christopher Blake (both 1948), she moved to Europe, where she played in both Italian and British movies. She became a familiar face in British "B" films, playing a nurse unhappily married to a musician in The Woman's Angle (1951), a murder suspect in Lady in the Fog (1952), and the wife of a man wrongly imprisoned as a killer in Mantrap (1953).

She had a better role in Women of Twilight (1952), Britain's first "X" certificate movie, in which she gave a touching performance as an unmarried mother who loses her baby when her unscrupulous landlady, a baby farmer (Freda Jackson), refuses to call a doctor. She was a reporter who stows away on a space ship in Satellite in the Sky (1956) and in Passport to Treason (1956) she was prophetically cast as a secretary who is secretly an MI5 agent working to uncover a neo-fascist group masquerading as a peace league.

In 1962 Maxwell played the small part of a nurse in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, and the same year she was given the role of Miss Moneypenny, secretary to "M", head of the Secret Service, in Dr No. Described by the critic Richard Whitehall as "the headiest box-office concoction of sex and sadism ever brewed in a British studio", the film launched one of the most successful franchises in movie history, with Maxwell's 14-film tenure as Miss Moneypenny ending in 1985 with A View to a Kill. (Caroline Bliss and Samantha Bond subsequently played the role.)

Maxwell's other films included Robert Wise's chilling supernatural thriller The Haunting (1963), in which she was the sceptical wife of an anthropology professor (Richard Johnson) investigating psychic phenomena, and she played in many television shows, including The Baron, Department S and two series starring Roger Moore, The Saint and The Persuaders. She was also the voice for Atlanta in the children's science-fiction series Stingray.

Moving to Ontario, Canada, she starred in the series Adventures in Rainbow Country, which was filmed near her home. In the 1970s she wrote a popular newspaper column for the Toronto Sun, in which she told anecdotes about the Bond movies, plus her time in Italy and her Hollywood years.

Her last film role was as one of a strong cast (with Jeremy Irons, Forest Whitaker, Jason Priestley and Charlotte Rampling) in John Irvin's Canadian-made revenge thriller The Fourth Angel (2001). In the same year she settled in Perth, Western Australia, where she had been working on an autobiography. She was married to Peter Marriott, a television executive, from 1957 until his death in 1973 and they had two children.

Tom Vallance

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