Tilly Masterson

Tilly Masterson – Not Quite a Bond Girl

Tilly Masterson is a character who seeks revenge for the death of her sister, Jill Masterson, a former secretary for the notorious Auric Goldfinger. Inspired by the literary figure, Tilly Masterton from Ian Fleming‘s 1959 novel, Goldfinger, Tania Mallet brings her to life in the 1964 film adaptation.

Tilly Masterson

In the film, Tilly’s role is slightly diminished compared to the book (see below). James Bond encounters her while tracking Goldfinger in Switzerland. As Bond drives, Tilly hurriedly approaches from behind, honking her horn, eager to overtake. Noticing her urgency, Bond gives way but feels intrigued to tail her.

He momentarily refrains, reminding himself, “Discipline 007!” Bond halts atop a hill, spotting Goldfinger’s stopped car below. Unbeknownst to Bond, Tilly’s intention is to assassinate Goldfinger, avenging her sister Jill’s death. Her bullet misses its mark and almost strikes Bond.


In a quick getaway, she speeds off in her vehicle, with Bond on her tail. Their chase takes a turn when Bond deploys the tire shredding mechanism on his Aston Martin DB5, deflating Tilly’s tires. Bond offers assistance to the nearest service station, but she declines further aid. Their paths cross again at Goldfinger’s facility where Tilly attempts another assassination. Bond intervenes, leading her to inadvertently trigger an alarm.

As Goldfinger’s men chase them, Bond expertly navigates his Aston Martin, outwitting several of the pursuers. Their escape is cut short when the road ends, and the duo flees into the woods. Here, Oddjob, Goldfinger’s loyal henchman, hurls his deadly, blade-edged hat, fatally injuring Tilly. By the time Bond reaches her, she is no more.

Tilly Masterson

How Tilly Masterson differs from the novel

In Ian Fleming’s novel Goldfinger, the character Tilly Masterton (Masterson in the film) indeed has a more developed and nuanced role. Some differences and elaborations in the book include:

  1. Motivation for Revenge: In the novel, it’s not just the death of her sister Jill at Goldfinger’s hands that spurs Tilly’s thirst for vengeance. The book implies that Jill and Tilly had an especially close relationship, which adds depth to Tilly’s motivations.
  2. Personal Backstory: The novel delves deeper into Tilly’s personal background, providing more insight into her character and the bond between the Masterton sisters.
  3. Interaction with Bond: Tilly and Bond have more extended interactions in the book. Their relationship is more intricate and detailed, with Bond trying to persuade her to abandon her quest for revenge for her safety.
  4. Endgame: While Tilly’s end in both the book and the film is tragic, the circumstances surrounding her death and the emotional aftermath for Bond differ somewhat between the two mediums.
  5. Bond’s Feelings: Bond’s feelings towards Tilly are more complex in the novel. There’s a sense of responsibility and protectiveness that he feels towards her, given her personal vendetta against Goldfinger.
  6. Changed surname: Both sisters have had their literary surname changed from Masterton to Masterson for the movie.

Tania Mallet

Born in Blackpool on May 19, 1941, Tania Mallet was a British actress and model. She hailed from an intriguing lineage: her mother, Olga Mironoff, was a Russian noblewoman and former chorus girl, while her father, Henry Mallet, thrived as a millionaire car salesman. Further testament to her family’s illustrious background, actress Helen Mirren was Tania’s cousin.

Initiating her modeling career at the age of 16, Tania trained at the Lucy Clayton School of Modelling. Tania adorned the Vogue cover twice in 1961, before getting into acting. Her first role was in Michael Winner’s documentary, Girls Girls Girls.

She auditioned for From Russia with Love, but it was a bikini-clad photo that caught producer Albert Broccoli’s attention, leading her to play Tilly Masterson in the 1964’s Goldfinger. Despite the film’s acclaim, it remained her only role in film.

Tania Mallet later graced the screen in TV show Glamour as a judge, and a 1976 episode of The New Avengers was her last known on-screen appearance.