Goldfinger and the myth of a Bond girl's death

Many think Goldfinger actress Shirley Eaton died during filming after being painted gold. But is this true? In the first episode of Debunked, Christian Blauvelt takes a look.

She helped supervillain Auric Goldfinger cheat at cards – as any good henchperson does. But when Jill Masterson turned the tables on her boss and fell into 007’s arms, the bullion-obsessed baddie had her killed. His execution method? Painting her gold. Sean Connery’s Bond says afterwards that she died of “skin asphyxiation”. Clearly a fictional scenario, right?

It turns out that many people believed that the actress who played the part of this Bond girl died in real life because she was painted gold for this scene. This is the kind of urban legend that often flourished in the pre-internet era. It was harder to verify that the actress in question, Shirley Eaton, was in fact still alive, especially since she stopped acting and dropped out of the public eye shortly after Goldfinger was released. Could life have imitated art in such a literal way?

In the first episode of Debunked, a new video series looking at popular myths, how they came about and why they endure, Christian Blauvelt examines how this peculiar urban legend began. Click the play button above to start the video.

Animation by Calum Youngson.

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