Fiona Volpe is a skilled assassin working for the undercover criminal organization SPECTRE. She plays a vital role in their plot to hijack an RAF Bomber that’s carrying two atomic bombs.
As a secondary antagonist in the 1965 James Bond film, Thunderball, Italian actress Luciana Paluzzi brings the character to life. Volpe is often considered one of the most memorable femme fatales in the Bond film series, ranking alongside others, such as Helga Brandt and Xenia Onatopp.
Fiona Volpe in Thunderball
Fiona Volpe is a deadly agent from the execution division of the international criminal organization SPECTRE. She plays a key role in their mission to hijack a Vulcan bomber carrying two nuclear warheads.
Volpe is deployed to the south of England, where she seduces NATO pilot Major François Derval and becomes his mistress to keep a close eye on him.
As a skilled seductress and assassin, Volpe is also a savvy negotiator. When Palazzi, an enforcer hired to impersonate Derval, demands more money, she agrees to avoid further complications.
Following the successful completion of their mission, Volpe is ordered by SPECTRE leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld to kill Lippe, who had made the mistake of hiring the greedy Palazzi. She chases Lippe on her BSA Lightning A65L motorcycle, killing him by firing missiles before pushing her motorcycle into a lake to conceal the evidence.
Volpe then travels to Nassau, Bahamas, where she encounters James Bond after his failed attempt to spy on Largo’s yacht. Bond, posing as a hitchhiker, notices her SPECTRE ring during their drive to the hotel. The next day, Fiona Volpe warns Largo against killing Bond, as his death would reveal the location of the hidden nuclear warheads.
At the hotel, Volpe discovers Bond’s colleague, Paula Caplan, who’s overpowered by Largo’s henchmen and taken for interrogation, but she commits suicide before she gives any information away.
After failing to save Paula, Bond returns to his hotel room and realizes Volpe is staying in a room next to him. He sneaks into her apartment and finds her in the bathtub, and so he seduces her and they spend the night together.
Later, they attend the Junkanoo carnival together, but upon opening the door, Bond is confronted by henchmen Vargas and Janni. He quickly shuts the door, only to turn and see Volpe is pointing a gun at him. She allows them in, and after mocking Bond’s ego, they take him captive.
As they’re stuck in traffic, Bond creates a diversion by spilling an inebriated reveler’s drink inside the car and igniting it with Volpe’s cigarette lighter. He escapes the burning vehicle and blends into the Junkanoo crowd, with Volpe, Vargas, Janni, and others chasing him.
Wounded in the ankle, Bond inadvertently leaves a trail of blood, leading them to the Kiss Kiss Club, where he attempts to mingle with the dancers. As Bond is dancing with a woman, Volpe approaches him. The woman, assuming Volpe is his wife, leaves abruptly, and so Bond and Volpe begin slow-dancing.
Another henchman aims his gun at Bond from behind a curtain, but Bond notices in time and spins Volpe into the bullet’s path, which fatally strikes her spine. The henchmen flee, and Bond places Volpe’s lifeless body on a nearby chair, casually asking a nearby couple, “Mind if my friend sits this one out? She’s just dead.”
Born on June 10, 1937, in Rome, Italy, Luciana Paluzzi grew up with a passion for engineering and studied at the Scientific Academy of Milan, but she caught the eye of her father’s friend, who was searching for a young actress for a minor role in Jean Negulesco’s Three Coins in the Fountain. Though acting wasn’t her original plan, Paluzzi auditioned, recited an English line, and landed the part.
Paluzzi appeared in numerous films, mainly in Italy, initially credited as Luciana Paoluzzi. In 1957, she debuted in the British film industry with the war film No Time To Die, directed by Terence Young, followed by Sea Fury, where she played Josita.
Paluzzi’s most renowned role came in 1965 when she was cast as SPECTRE femme fatale, Fiona Volpe, in Thunderball, also directed by Terence Young. She initially auditioned for the lead Bond girl, Domino but Claudine Auger secured the role. In hindsight, Paluzzi said she was delighted to play Fiona Volpe, which she found “more fun.”
Luciana Paluzzi also appeared in Muscle Beach Party, Chuka, 99 Women, and The Klansman. In 1960, she married actor Brett Halsey, and they co-starred in Return to Peyton Place as newlyweds. They had a son, Christian, before divorcing in 1962.
In 1979, Paluzzi married her current husband, American media mogul Michael Jay Solomon, founder of Michael Jay Solomon Film International and co-founder of Telepictures Corporation. Following this, Paluzzi retired from acting.
Fiona Volpe – The Deadliest Femme Fatale
Fiona Volpe remains an iconic femme fatale in the James Bond series, exemplifying the perfect blend of seduction, intelligence, and ruthlessness. Her character in Thunderball, portrayed by the talented Luciana Paluzzi, left an indelible mark on the franchise and continues to captivate audiences even decades later.