Lois Maxwell, best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond franchise, passed away at Freemantle Hospital in Perth, Australia. She was 80.
Before playing the double-entendre-dropping secretary to “M” at Scotland Yard, Maxwell was born Lois Hooker in 1927, in Ontario Canada. By the age of 15 she was performing on radio with the Canadian Army’s Entertainment Corps.
Bond actor Roger Moore had been friends with Maxwell from their days at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (class of 1944). Moore told BBC radio that “She was always fun and she was wonderful to be with.” According to Moore, Maxwell was suffering from cancer.
Maxwell acted and starred in dozens of European and North American films before appearing 14 times in the Bond series. She began her role as Moneypenny with the first Bond feature Dr. No in 1963. There she began the ongoing, if unrequited, flirtation with Bond until 1985’s A View to a Kill. Two years later, the next Bond film The Living Daylights featured a new Bond (Timothy Dalton) and new Moneypenny, Caroline Bliss (then 26).
Though Maxwell performed in a myriad of TV shows and films, including Kubrick‘s Lolita and Robert Wise‘s The Haunting, her iconic and pithy asides with Ian Fleming‘s swinging anti-hero stood out and for more reasons than mere chemistry. Maxwell’s upper-class distance to the 1960s player signaled a tension between traditional values and the sexual politics of “swinging London;” an era and a politic Bond portrays in a way that’s smashingly glamorous. Moneypenny held out for a rock and usually wore pearls, but she had her bit of fun too and so was a model of compromise in an era that, if we believe our movies, was swimming with division. Cultural clashes aside, Moneypenny provided more than tea service.