James Bond Author Ian Fleming’s Mistress and Bond Girl Model Dead at 104

Fleming first met Blanche Blackwell in the 1950s while at his Jamaican writing retreat.

August 14, 2017 9:55 am
Ian Fleming's Mistress and Muse Dead at 104
British novelist Ian Fleming on the beach near Goldeneye, his Jamaica home, February 1964. (Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images)

Honey Ryder. Tatiana Romanova. Domino Vitali. Pussy Galore. Tiffany Case. You can thank Blanche Blackwell for inspiring many of the greatest Bond girls.

Blackwell, who was famously James Bond author Ian Fleming’s mistress and model for some of his most famous characters, has died at the age of 104, reports the Washington Post.

Part of Jamaica’s jet set and a self-described man-killer—as well as mother to Chris Blackwell, who would found Island Records and launch the careers of Bob Marley and U2—Blackwell, a forty-something divorcee at the time, would first meet Fleming in the mid-1950s, while he was at his Jamaican writing retreat Goldeneye.

Fleming would publish his first novel, Casino Royale, in 1953, followed by a string of bestsellers through his death in ’64—including a handful of posthumously published books—that would go on to become the internationally acclaimed Bond movie franchise. (Fleming’s wife would usually hang back in London while her husband was plugging away on his golden typewriter—hence, his ability to discreetly carry on the love affair for as long as he did.)

“[Blanche] was a sort of macho female,” her son told Vanity Fair in 2012. “The relationship they had, how she and Ian bonded, was that they were both into doing things: climbing these falls, going into those caves, swimming here, snorkeling there.” Blanche gifted the author a fishing boat he would christen Octopussy—which would help provide a name for Fleming’s final, posthumously published novel, Octopussy and the Living Daylights, and act as a standalone title for the eponymous 1983 Bond movie starring the late Roger Moore.

Speaking of Bond movies and their famous girls, Dr. No‘s Honeychile (or Honey) Ryder and Goldfinger‘s Pussy Galore were thought to be directly inspired by Blackwell.

As the Post notes, upon Fleming’s death, his wife reportedly proclaimed that Goldeneye could be rented to anyone but Blanche Blackwell.

In an interesting twist of fate, Chris Blackwell would years later buy Fleming’s retreat, and has since turned it into a luxury villa resort.

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