Shirley Eaton

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Shirley Eaton
Shirley Jean Eaton

(1937-01-12) 12 January 1937 (age 87)
Edgware, Middlesex, England
Years active
  • 1951–1969, 1999–2009
Colin Rowe
(m. 1957; died 1994)

Shirley Jean Eaton (born 12 January 1937) is an English former actress. Eaton appeared regularly in British films throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and gained her highest profile for her iconic appearance as Bond Girl Jill Masterson in the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964), which gained her bombshell status. Eaton also had roles in the early Carry On films.

Preferring to devote herself to bringing up a family, she retired from acting in 1969. Eaton came out of retirement in 1999 to release her autobiography titled Golden Girl, which was a bestseller, and has released three more books throughout the 2000s.

Early life[edit]

Eaton was born on 12 January 1937 in Edgware General Hospital, Middlesex, and brought up in the suburb of Kingsbury. She attended Roe Green Primary School on Princes Avenue, and although living close to both Kingsbury County Grammar School and Tylers Croft Secondary Modern School, won a place at the Aida Foster Theatre School, a specialist drama school, and remained there until she was sixteen.[1] Her stage debut was in Benjamin Britten's Let's Make an Opera! and her West End debut was in 1954 in Going to Town.[1]


All through the 1950s, Eaton was a singing star, both on the stage and on television, appearing with her own act in variety shows throughout the country and starring at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London in her own solo singing act, as well as appearing in many films. Eaton participated in the British heat of the 1957 Eurovision Song Contest.

Throughout her career, Eaton appeared with many of the top British male comedy stars of the period, including Jimmy Edwards, Max Bygraves, Bob Monkhouse, and Arthur Askey. Eaton's female co-stars included Peggy Mount, Thora Hird, and Dora Bryan among others. Her early roles include Three Men in a Boat (1956) and Date with Disaster (1957), in which she co-starred with Tom Drake. She appeared in The Belles of St Trinian's (1954), two of the "Doctor" film series, three early Carry On films and worked with the Crazy Gang in Life Is a Circus (1958).

Eaton left comedy roles by appearing opposite Mickey Spillane in The Girl Hunters (1963) in which Spillane played his own literary creation Mike Hammer. During the 1962 London shoot she appeared on stage in Come Blow Your Horn. She made three episodes of The Saint, starring Roger Moore, including the pilot. She was in a 1962 episode of the British television series Man of the World that was the pilot for the TV series The Sentimental Agent. Her episode was included in a 1963 feature film of the series entitled Our Man in the Caribbean.

Eaton achieved the most recognition for her performance as Jill Masterson in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger (1964). She appeared on the cover of Life magazine in her gold-painted persona. Her character's death, being painted head to toe in gold paint and suffering "skin suffocation", led to an urban myth that Eaton had died during filming.[2] She appeared in a 2003 episode of the series MythBusters to dispel the rumour.[3]

After Goldfinger, Eaton made only a few more films, including a pair of films for Ivan Tors, Rhino! (1964) and Around the World Under the Sea (1966), a Harry Alan Towers version of the Agatha Christie mystery Ten Little Indians (1965) co-starring Hugh O'Brian and a Bob Hope comedy, Eight on the Lam (1967), plus the title role of Sax Rohmer's Sumuru in Towers' The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967) and The Girl from Rio (1969). In a 2014 interview, she explained, "After I finished The Million Eyes of Sumuru and was coming home in the plane was when I made the decision to quit. I hated being away from my baby Jason and his brother Grant. However, I did enjoy being the wicked lady Sumuru in two rather bad films, which I had not had the chance to be before. I do believe they have become cult films now."[4][5]

Personal life[edit]

Eaton was married to Colin Lenton Rowe from 1957 until his death in 1994. The couple had two sons, Grant and Jason. Eaton retired from acting to bring up her family and later commented in a 1999 interview with Steve Swires of Starlog magazine, "A career is a career, but you're a mother until you die". She repeated this statement in an interview with the journalist James Davies on 18 June 2008, adding, "The most important thing for me was being a woman and having a family more than being a very famous glamorous actress".[6]

Eaton published an autobiography in 1999 titled Golden Girl. Her later book (Golden Girl Shirley Eaton: Her Reflections) is a picture book of all her film photos from throughout her career and the second book (Shirley Eaton, Bond's Golden Girl; Her Own Art Gallery) is full of her paintings and sculptures made over a lifetime and, more recently, her art and photography. She also has an official website.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

The main character in Jonathan Coe's novel What a Carve Up! is obsessed with Eaton in her role in the film of the same name.



Year Film Role Notes
1953 Personal Affair Schoolgirl Uncredited
A Day to Remember Young Woman on Ferry Uncredited
1954 You Know What Sailors Are Palace Girl Uncredited
Doctor in the House Milly Groaker
The Belles of St. Trinian's Sixth Former Uncredited
1955 The Love Match Rose Brown
1956 Charley Moon Angel Dream
Sailor Beware! Shirley Hornett
Three Men in a Boat Sophie Clutterbuck
1957 Doctor at Large Nan
Date with Disaster Sue
The Naked Truth Melissa Right
1958 Carry On Sergeant Mary Sage
Further Up the Creek Jane
1959 Carry On Nurse Staff Nurse Dorothy Denton
In the Wake of a Stranger Joyce Edwards
1960 Life Is a Circus Shirley Winter
Carry On Constable Sally Barry
1961 Nearly a Nasty Accident Cpl. Jean Briggs
Dentist on the Job Jill Venner
A Weekend with Lulu Deirdre Proudfoot
What a Carve Up! Linda Dickson
1962 Our Man in the Caribbean Lee
1963 The Girl Hunters Laura Knapp
1964 Rhino! Miss Arleigh
Goldfinger Jill Masterson
1965 The Naked Brigade Diana Forsythe
Ten Little Indians Ann Clyde
1966 Around the World Under the Sea Dr. Margaret Hanford
1967 Eight on the Lam Ellie Barton
The Million Eyes of Sumuru Sumuru
1967 The Scorpio Letters Phoebe Stewart
1968 The Blood of Fu Manchu Black Widow
1969 The Girl from Rio Sumuru/Sumitra
2001 Everdream Talent scout short


Year Film Role Notes
1950 For the Children Tina Crome Episode: "Let's Make an Opera!"
1951 Parent-Craft Anne Pebble All 6 episodes
1954 And So to Bentley Girl Episode: #1.5
1955 The Dance Dress Fay TV film
1957 Mostly Maynard Various Episode: #1.3
BBC Sunday-Night Theatre Peggy Harrison Episode: "His Excellency"
1962 The Saint Adrienne Halberd Episode: "The Talented Husband"
Man of the World Lee Episode: "The Sentimental Agent"
The Saint Gloria Uckrose Episode: "The Effete Angler"
1968 The Saint Reb Denning Episode: "Invitation to Danger"


  1. ^ a b Reid, John Howard (2006). America's Best, Britain's Finest: A Survey of Mixed Movies. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-1-4116-7877-4.
  2. ^ Blauvelt, Christian (17 July 2018). "Goldfinger and the myth of a Bond girl's death". BBC Culture. BBC.
  3. ^ "MythBusters Pilot 3: Larry's Lawn Chair Balloon, Poppy Seed Drug Test, Goldfinger". MythBusters Results. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  4. ^ In 2001 Eaton cane out of retirement for the short movie Everdream Armstrong, Richard. "Shirley Eaton Talks with the Café about James Bond, Mickey Spillane, and Her New Book". Classic Film & TV Cafe. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  5. ^ Strodder, Chris; Phillips, Michelle (1 March 2007). The Encyclopedia of Sixties Cool: A Celebration of the Grooviest People, Events, and Artifacts of the 1960s. Santa Monica Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-59580-017-6.
  6. ^ "JAMES DAVIES MEDIA – Journalist, Showbiz Reporter: James Davies Interviews Bond's golden girl, Shirley Eaton". 18 June 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  7. ^ "Shirley Eaton – Bond girl, actress, author, artist – Home". Retrieved 26 October 2018.

External links[edit]