Martine Beswick Biography
Martine Beswick is a Jamaica-born British actress and model who is best known for her roles in two James Bond films, From Russia with Love and Thunderball. She was born on 26 September 1941 in Port Antonio, Jamaica, to a British father, Ronald Stuart Davis Beswick, and a Portuguese-Jamaican mother, Myrtle May (née Penso).
In 1954, following the separation of her parents, Martine Beswick, her sister Laurellie, and her mother moved to London. At the age of 14, she left school to work to help support her family.
Although Beswick auditioned for the first Bond film Dr. No, she didn’t win a part. However, she was cast in the second film From Russia with Love (1963) as Zora, the fiery gypsy girl who had a catfight scene with Vida, played by former Miss Israel, Aliza Gur. Martine Beswick later revealed that there was as much bad feeling with Gur offscreen as well as on, with the film’s director, Terence Young, encouraging Beswick to get rough with Gur. Interestingly, she was incorrectly billed as “Martin Beswick” in the title sequence for the film.
Beswick went on to appear as the ill-fated Paula Caplan in Thunderball (1965), becoming the first female to be cast as 2 different Bond girls in different films. She has since been joined by Maud Adams as the only female actresses to play different Bond girls in different Bond films.
After her stardom rose, Martine Beswick appeared in several other notable films of the 1960s. One of her most famous catfight scenes was in One Million Years B.C., where she played opposite Raquel Welch. She played Adelita in the well-regarded Spaghetti Western, A Bullet for the General, and a villainous role in the exploitation thriller, The Penthouse.
Martine Beswick then appeared in various Hammer Studio low-budget films, most notably Prehistoric Women and the gender-bending horror Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, in which she played the titular villainess.
Beswick starred as the Queen of Evil in Oliver Stone’s 1974 directorial debut, Seizure, or Queen of Evil, before moving to Hollywood in the 1970s. She made numerous guest appearances on television series, including Sledge Hammer!, Fantasy Island alongside The Man with the Golden Gun actor Hervé Villechaize. She also earned parts in The Fall Guy, Mannix, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Falcon Crest. In 1980, she played the lead role in the comedy film, The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood, known as Hollywood Blue in the UK..
Martine Beswick’s career was active well into the 1990s. Since then, she has mainly participated in film documentaries, providing commentary and relating her experiences on the many films in which she has appeared. She owned a removals business in London but is now semi-retired except for her guest appearances at international Bond conventions.
In April 2013, she was one of 12 Bond Girl celebrity guests in an episode of the BBC’s Masterchef. In 2018, after a 24-year absence from the the big screen, Martine Beswick came out of retirement to appear in House of the Gorgon, a film that reunited her with fellow Hammer film actors Caroline Munro, Veronica Carlson, and Christopher Neame. In 2019, she was inducted into the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards’ Monster Kid Hall of Fame, recognizing her contributions to the horror genre.