Actress and model best known for Goldfinger

Born: May 19, 1941;

Died: March 30, 2019

TANIA Mallet, who has died aged 77, made only a handful of screen appearances and had to take a massive pay cut to play the role of the “Bond girl” who meets a horrible end courtesy of Oddjob’s steel-rimmed bowler hat in Goldfinger (1964).

At the time Mallet was making £1,000 a week as one of Britain’s top models and it took some tough negotiating to get £150 on the film.

But it was as Tilly Masterson, out to avenge the murder of her sister, that Mallet made her biggest and most enduring impression. Tilly’s sister was the Bond girl who is famously killed by being smothered in gold paint as punishment for being seduced by Bond.

Mallet’s maternal grandfather Pyotr Mironov was a colonel in the Imperial Russian army, who was serving as a diplomat and negotiating an arms deal in London when the Russian Revolution happened. He stayed on and ended up working as a taxi driver. Helen Mirren is Mallet’s first cousin.

Mallet was born in Blackpool in 1941. Her mother was a chorus girl and her father a car salesman. Her parents divorced when she was young and her mother married a property magnate, who wound up in prison for fraud.

At 16 she enrolled in the Lucie Clayton Charm Academy, where contemporaries included Jean Shrimpton. By 1961 she was appearing on the cover of Vogue magazine and featured in Michel Winner’s cinema documentary short Girls Girls Girls, which followed the fortunes of three young women after their arrival in London.

“Girls, girls, girls are my favourite subject,” enthuses the narrator. “There are lots of them about - have you noticed?” It was very much of its time.

Mallet tested for the role of Tatiana Romanova, the female lead in the second Bond movie From Russia With Love. Although she was half-Russian, she was reputedly discounted because of her English accent. The role went to the Italian Daniela Bianchi, who ironically ended up being dubbed.

But the Bond producers came calling when casting the next Bond film. Mallet had to learn to drive for the film, in which her character tracks Goldfinger down in the Swiss Alps, meets Bond and attempts to shoot Goldfinger with a telescopic rifle.

“The restrictions placed on me for the duration of the filming grated, were dreadful and I could not anticipate living my life like that,” she said in an interview for the MI6 fan site. “For instance, being forbidden to ride in case I had an accident…

“Apart from that, the money was dreadful. Originally I was offered £50 per week which I managed to push up to £150, but even so I earned more than that in a day modelling, so the six months I worked or was retained to work on Goldfinger were a real sacrifice.”

After Goldfinger, Mallet returned to modelling, though she appeared on the panel show Call My Bluff in 1967 and had a small role in an episode of The New Avengers in 1976.

She married a management consultant, became stepmother to his children from a previous marriage and they had family homes in Sussex and Kent. Her husband predeceased her. She bred dogs and she was happy to attend James Bond conventions and reminisce about her brief time as a film star.