Zora – A Fiery Gypsy Girl
Zora was one of two gypsy girls fighting for the love of the chief’s son in the 1963 James Bond film, From Russia with Love (1963). She was portrayed by the talented Jamaican actress Martine Beswick, who would later return as a different Bond girl in Thunderball (1965).
At a gypsy camp in Istanbul, Zora and her rival Vida are both in love with the chief’s son. They’re brought before James Bond (Sean Connery) and his Turkish ally, Ali Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendáriz), during a feast in honor of Bey, hosted by the gypsy leader, Vavra.
Vavra questioned why the two couldn’t resolve their conflict through other means, so they begin to fight to the death, trading punches and kicks. In the midst of their fight, Krilencu, an assassin working for SMERSH, and his henchmen invade the camp, intending to kill Kerim Bey.
During the ensuing battle, Bond saves Vavra’s life, and once the invaders are expelled, he asks Vavra to put an end to the fight between Zora and Vida. As a favor to Bond, Vavra leaves the decision to him and sends both women to spend the night with him.
The scene ends with Bond telling Bey, his decision ‘could take some time,’ as he’s left alone with them both.
Actress Martine Beswick
Martine Beswick is a Jamaica-born British actress and model best known for her roles as 2 different Bond girls in two James Bond films, From Russia with Love and Thunderball. Born on September 26, 1941, in Port Antonio, Jamaica, she’s the daughter of British father Ronald Stuart Davis Beswick and Portuguese-Jamaican mother Myrtle May.
In 1954, after her parents’ separation, Beswick, along with her sister Laurellie and mother, moved to London. At the age of 14, she left school to work and support her family.
Martine Beswick auditioned for the first Bond film, Dr. No, but she didn’t win a part. However, she was cast as Zora in From Russia with Love, the fiery gypsy girl who had a catfight scene with Vida, played by former Miss Israel, Aliza Gur.
Beswick later revealed that there was as much animosity with Gur offscreen as well as on, with the film’s director, Terence Young, encouraging her to be rough with Gur. Interestingly, she was incorrectly billed as “Martin Beswick” in the title sequence for the film.
This embarrassing oversight prompted Director Terence Young to offer her the much bigger role of Bond Girl Paula Caplan in Thunderball. This made Martine Beswick the first female to be cast as two different Bond girls in different films, but has since been joined by Maud Adams.
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., A Bullet for the General, and The Penthouse.
Martine Beswick then appeared in various Hammer Studio low-budget films, most notably Prehistoric Women and 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, The Fall Guy, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Falcon Crest to name a few.
Martine Beswick’s career remained 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.
Zora was a minor character in From Russia with Love, but as with all Bond girls, she played an integral role in the development of the film’s plot and left a memorable impression on the Bond franchise.
Martine Beswick’s portrayal of the passionate and fiery gypsy girl, along with her iconic if outdated catfight scene, set the stage for a thrilling and captivating Bond adventure, and of course the actress was back for more just a couple of years later.