Lois Maxwel, the actress who played Miss Moneypenny for most of the James Bond films was also a race car driver, Golden Globe winner, Canadian Army Corps volunteer and classmate of Roger Moore way before she played the famous secretary of MI6 Section Chief M and Bond’s flirtatious admirer on the big screen.
In her early years Maxwell lied about her age to join the Canadian Women Army Corps at age 15. She was stationed in England and Scotland in the Auxiliary Entertainment Unit performing music and dance numbers to entertain the troops. When it was discovered she was underage she was discharged and decided to enroll in the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts were she became friends with fellow student Roger Moore.
Later in Hollywood at the age of 20, she won a Golden Globe Award for New Actress of The Year for her role in the Shirley Temple comedy That Hagen Girl . A couple of years later she posed in Life Magazine with another up and coming actress Marilyn Monroe. Afterwards, most of her work were in B movies and pinup magazines. Becoming disillusioned with Hollywood, she decided to move to Rome in 1950 were she made a series of films including one with up and coming star Sophia Loren. Reportedly, in between movie work, she became a pretty good amateur race car driver in Rome as well.
In 1957 she married a former commander of the Viceroy of India who had himself been screen tested by Cubby Broccoli as a potential James Bond. As fate would have it, in 1961 she lobbied for the role in the James Bond film Doctor No because her husband became too ill to work anymore and they needed the money. After reading the first draft of the script, she decided to play Bond’s girlfriend, Sylvia Trench but settled for Miss Moneypenny because it guaranteed at least two days of work. Luckily for her she didn’t choose the first role since the character of Sylvia Trench was cut after the first movie, never to appear again.
Although she was world famous for the role of Miss Moneypenny, her total screen time in 14 Bond films was 20 minutes and she spoke fewer than 200 words. During her years playing the role she also played in two Bond spoofs angering Sean Connery by playing in Operation Kid OK in 1967 with his brother Neil Connery.
In 1973 Maxwell’s husband died after a long illness. She returned to Canada and wrote a column for the Toronto Sun under the Miss Penny pseudonym and became a business woman working in textile. In 1994 she returned to England once more and retired to Somerset.
After her death in 2007, Roger Moore revealed that she was upset that the character of Miss Moneypenny didn’t become the new M once Roger Moore retired from the role. When Timothy Dalton took over the role she would have like to have been the new M.
Can you imagine, before Judi Dench, who happened to be 7 years her junior, Lois Maxwell could have been the new Section Chief in MI6 during the Timothy Dalton era?
Tell us what you think. Should the producers have allowed Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) a promotion to Section Chief to play M?