in That Hagen Girl (1947)
|Born||Lois Ruth Hooker
14 February 1927
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
|Died||29 September 2007 (aged 80)
Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia
|Other name(s)||Lois Maxwell-Marriott|
|Spouse(s)||Peter Churchill Marriott
(1957–1973) (his death)
Lois Maxwell (14 February 1927 – 29 September 2007) was a Canadian actress.
Maxwell began her film career in the late 1940s, and won a Golden Globe Award for the New Actress of the Year for her performance in That Hagen Girl (1947). Following a number of small film roles, Maxwell grew dissatisfied and travelled to Italy where she worked in films from 1951 until 1955, and following her marriage, she moved to the United Kingdom where she appeared in several television productions.
She originated the role of Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond franchise, playing the character in fourteen films, from Dr. No (1962) until her final performance of the character in A View to a Kill (1985).
As Maxwell's career declined, she lived in Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, until she was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2001. She moved to Perth, Western Australia where she lived with her son until her death in 2007, at the age of eighty.
Born Lois Ruth Hooker in Kitchener, Ontario to parents who were a nurse and a teacher. She grew up in Toronto and attended Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute. Dissatisfied with the yields of baby sitting jobs, Lois set her sights on something more lucrative and landed her first job working as a waitress at Canada's largest and most luxurious summer resort, Bigwin Inn, on Bigwin Island in Lake of Bays, Ontario, Canada. She ran away from home at the age of fifteen in order to join the Canadian Women's Army Corps during World War II, a unit formed to release men for combat duties. CWAC personnel were secretaries, vehicle drivers, mechanics, and performed all conceivable non-combat duties. Maxwell quickly became part of the Army Show in Canada, and later as part of the Canadian Auxiliary Services Entertainment Unit she was posted to the United Kingdom, performing music and dance numbers to entertain the troops; often appearing with Canadian comedians Wayne and Shuster. The truth about her age was discovered when the group reached London, and in order to avoid repatriation back to Canada, she was discharged, then enrolled at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts where she became friends with fellow student Roger Moore.
Travelling to Hollywood at the age of twenty, she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year - Actress for her role in the Shirley Temple comedy That Hagen Girl, as well as participating in a 1949 Life Magazine photo layout in which she posed with another up-and-coming actress named Marilyn Monroe. It was at this time that she changed her surname to Maxwell, a name she borrowed from a ballet dancer friend. The rest of her family also adopted the name Maxwell.
Most of her work was minor roles in B movies. Having tired of Hollywood, she moved back to Europe, living in Rome for five years from 1950 to 1955. There she made a series of films, and at one point became an amateur racing driver. One of her Italian films was a 1953 adaptation of the opera Aida in which Maxwell played a leading role, lip-synching to another woman's opera vocals and appearing in several scenes with a pre-stardom Sophia Loren, who also performed to another person's singing. While on a trip to Paris, she met her future husband, television executive Peter Marriott; they were married in 1957 and moved to live in London. Their daughter Melinda (born 1958) and their son Christian (born 1959) were both born in London. Marriott, a former commander of the Viceroy of India's household troops, had himself been screen-tested by Cubby Broccoli as a potential James Bond.
During the 1960s, she appeared in many other television series and movies both in Britain and Canada, and was the star of Adventures in Rainbow Country later that decade. She guest starred in episodes of The Saint and The Persuaders! which both starred Roger Moore. Maxwell also had a secondary role in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita. She provided the voice of Atlanta for the science fiction children's series Stingray in 1963. In 1965, Maxwell made a guest appearance in the "Something for a Rainy Day" episode of the ITC series The Baron, playing an insurance investigator. She also portrayed Moneypenny in a 1967 made-for-television special (produced by EON Productions) titled Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond.
Maxwell lobbied for the role in James Bond, as her husband had had a heart attack and they needed the money. Director Terence Young, who once had turned her down on the grounds that she looked like she "smelled of soap", offered her either Moneypenny or the recurring Bond girlfriend, Sylvia Trench, but she was uncomfortable with a revealing scene the latter had in the screenplay. The role as M's secretary guaranteed just two days' work at ₤100 per day; Maxwell supplied her own clothes. The Trench character, however, was eliminated after From Russia With Love.
In 1967, Maxwell angered Sean Connery for a time by appearing in the Italian spy spoof Operation Kid Brother with the star's brother Neil Connery and Bernard Lee. In 1971, Maxwell was nearly replaced for Diamonds Are Forever after demanding a pay raise; her policewoman's cap disguises hair she had already dyed for another role. In 1975, she plays Moneypenny weeping for the death of James Bond in a short scene with Bernard Lee as M in the French comedy Bons baisers de Hong Kong. For the filming of A View to a Kill, her final appearance, Bond producer Cubby Broccoli told her that the two of them were the only ones from Dr. No still working on the series. Maxwell asked that her character be killed off, but Broccoli recast the role instead. She was succeeded by Caroline Bliss and later Samantha Bond.
As Moneypenny, according to author Tom Lisanti, she was seen as an "anchor", with her flirtatious repartee with Bond lending the films realism and humanism. For Moneypenny, Bond was "unobtainable", freeing the characters to make outrageous sexual double entendres. At the same time, her character did little to imbue the series with changing feminist notions.
Although she is world famous for this role, her total screen time as Moneypenny in 14 films was less than twenty minutes, and she spoke fewer than 200 words.
In 1973, Maxwell's husband, who had long been ill following a serious heart attack in the early 1960s, died. Maxwell then returned to Canada, settling in Toronto, where she wrote a column for the Toronto Sun under the Miss Moneypenny pseudonym and became a businesswoman working in the textile industry. In 1994, she returned to England once more in order to be near her daughter, and retired to a cottage in Frome, Somerset.
Following surgery for bowel cancer in 2001, Maxwell moved to Perth, Australia to live with her son's family. She remained there, working on her autobiography, until her death at Fremantle Hospital, on 29 September 2007.
"It's rather a shock", longtime friend Roger Moore told BBC Radio 5 Live. "She was always fun and she was wonderful to be with and was absolutely perfect casting", he said of her role as Miss Moneypenny, going on to reference a comment attributed to Maxwell that she would have liked to have seen Moneypenny become the new M after Moore's retirement from the role. "It was a great pity that, after I moved out of Bond, they didn't take her on to continue in the Timothy Dalton films. I think it was a great disappointment to her that she had not been promoted to play M. She would have been a wonderful M."
1962 - 1985
1987 - 1989