If you are not up on your James Bond trivia, Miss Moneypenney was Bond’s “Girl Friday”. She’s been missing from the Blond Bond films as of late, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed hoping for her reappearance. During her long career in Bond films, Moneypenney has been played several actresses such as: Lois Maxwell, Caroline Bliss, Samantha Bond, Barbara Bouchet, and Pamela Salem.
Jane Moneypenney served as the assistant to the veritable “M”, and although the flirtation between the two did not exist in any of Ian Fleming’s books, Moneypenney is known to filmgoers for her verbal sparring/flirting with rascal known as 007. And while there’s a certain endearing comic relief to the character, she certainly is not as interesting as the dames who inspired her.
As with all things Ian Fleming, Monneypenney actually has a basis in real life. In this case, it appears that Moneypenney is speculated to have been based on either a single person or is a conglomeration of the many women in Fleming’s life. So let’s run down the suspects:
Kathleen Pettigrew: the formidable (read: terrifying) assistant to MI6 director, Stewart Menzies, during and after WWII, who can best be described as a “…grey-haired lady with the square jaw of the battleship type”.
Vera Atkins, (one of our favorite SOE dames) who was technically an assistant to Colonel Maurice Buckmaster (one the reported inspirations for “M”, Bond’s boss), but Atkins was a damn important figure in her own right.
Another possible candidate is Margaret Priestley who administered the 30 Commando Assault Unit during WWII (think Navy Seals with some serious Intel collection training). She actually shied away form any public connection to Ian Fleming and the Bond character of Moneypenney.
Other likely candidates are either Jean Frampton, the dear lady who typed Ian Fleming’s manuscripts and whom apparently never met the man (although their letters to each other recently fetched a pretty penny at auction), and finally, Joan Bright Astley whom Fleming dated during WWII. Astley was the dame who organized the Special Information Center for Winston Churchill during the war and was also renowned for her “social skills” with high ranking officers.
So who is the real Miss Moneypenney? Your guess is as good as mine, but honestly, the moon-eyed secretary doesn’t strike any resemblance to the hard-core dames of the British Intel community, and given the sappy love-struck secretary of the Bond films, if I was one of the reported ladies of inspiration for the character, I’d distance myself far from her.