You know my name

An intriguing piece of Bond history will have come as a revelation to many Bond addicts. Nikki van der Zyl, 77, dubbed the voices of many Bond girls of the first two generations. We have got to know of her only after she has been banned from events marking 50 years of Bond films, apparently because her presence would have embarrassed some of those Bond girls.

History has often been unkind in matters of dubbing, though the unkindness has usually worked the other way. Singin' in the Rain (1952) mocked the silent movie star (Jean Hagen) whose voice was so bad it had to be dubbed in sound films. In My Fair Lady (1964), Audrey Hepburn's songs were dubbed by Marnie Nixon; this denied Hepburn an Academy Award nomination for her unforgettable portrayal of Eliza Doolittle. This time, we see the dub artiste as the victim of unfairness.

How much did van der Zyl contribute to the making of the Bond legend? Plenty, as Miss O'Toole might have said. The contribution did not include "Hi, I'm Plenty!" that was Lana Wood as Plenty O'Toole in Diamonds are Forever (1971) but what van der Zyl did say was still plenty. Her voice, it turns out, was involved in some of the most memorable conversations in Bond history.

It seems to have begun with Bond's very first appearance, playing chemin de fer at a casino in Dr No (1962) and fleecing Sylvia Trench, who keeps throwing her money away. "I admire your courage, Miss?"

"Trench. Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck, Mr?"

"Bond. James Bond."

That's how the world was introduced to the secret agent with Sean Connery's face. And at the end of the game: "Tell me, Miss Trench, do you play any other things? I mean, besides chemin de fer."

... contd.

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