Dramatic Facts About Linda Christian, The First Bond Girl

February 27, 2024 | Dancy Mason

Dramatic Facts About Linda Christian, The First Bond Girl


Famously hailed as the first official Bond girl, Linda Christian was perhaps best known for her scandalous dating history...and its tendency to turn sharply tragic. 


1. Her Life Was A Movie

Linda Christian was a generational beauty, with scandals and a dating history that often outshone her film work...and not in a good way. In fact, her romantic escapades were so dramatic and so tragic, they were ooften stranger than the fictions she was starring in. 

Linda Christian smiling and looking at camera - 1965Jack de Nijs for Anefo, Wikimedia Commons

2. She Was Rootless

Christian was born in Mexico in 1923, but due to the nature of her father’s work in the oil business, her family moved a great deal during her childhood. Although this itinerant existence surely took a toll on the girl, it did also turn her into a polyglot thanks to all the languages she had to learn. It also brought her face to face with danger. 

Mexican actress Linda Christian in a publicity photo - circa 1948None visible, Wikimedia Commons

3. She Had To Evacuate

Although she would get plenty of action as a Bond girl, as a young girl Christian experienced a terrifying real-life explosion. While living in Palestine in 1941, Christian and her family had a bomb scare. In its wake, she fled back to Mexico...and right into a very fateful meeting. 

Linda Christian wearing glasses is looking at camera - 1965Jack de Nijs for Anefo, Wikimedia Commons

4. She Met An Idol

After she graduated high school in Mexico, Christian ran into none other than Hollywood matinee idol Errol Flynn while he was filming his latest movie. Flynn, evidently clocking Christian's already heartstopping beauty, told her she'd have a career in Hollywood if she wanted. 

Christian jumped at the chance. But that wasn't his only offer. 

Actor Errol Flynn at Los Angeles' Union Airport - 1941Los Angeles Times, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

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5. She Took A Famous Lover

Flynn had a reputation around Hollywood for bedding women left, right, and center. So despite the fact he was over a decade older than the ingenue Christian, it wasn't long before they romantically involved themselves. Adding to the ick was the fact that Christian had long since idolized Flynn on the cinema screen. 

Flynn didn't waste any time exerting his control over her, either.

Linda Christian Publicity Photo - 1955Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

6. He Changed Her Name

Flynn knew Hollywood inside and out by now, and he decided that his new girlfriend needed a new name to impress studio executives. While her birth name was Blanca Vorhauer, Flynn re-christened her as "Linda Christian". The surname came from Fletcher Christian, a famous sailor whom Errol had played in In the Wake of the Bounty

Even so, Christian was about to prove she was no meek little girl. 

Errol Flynn as Prince Edward from the 1855 film The WarriorsBettmann, Getty Images

7. She Had A Sugar Daddy

Despite the shady power dynamics of their relationship, Flynn did help Christian out in her early days in Hollywood. In one instance, he even offered to pay for her to have a couple of crooked teeth fixed, just so she could put her "best" self toward the camera. Except he was stunned at what she did next. 

Screenshot of Linda Christian looking at side - from Tarzan And The Mermaids (1948)Estudios Churubusco Azteca S.A., Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948)

8. She Was Savvy 

After the procedure was done, Flynn was shocked to receive a much bigger dental bill than he anticipated.Turns out, Christian had taken the opportunity to get some major cosmetic dentistry done while she was in there, then sent the bill to Flynn without a second thought. Flynn wasn't exactly forgiving.

Screenshot of Linda Christian looking at side - from The Devil S Hand (1961)Rex Carlton Productions, The Devil S Hand (1961)

9. It Came Back To Bite Her 

Although Errol Flynn swallowed his pride and ended up footing the bill, he didn't quite let Christian forget it. Years later, when Flynn happened to meet Christian again, he reportedly said to her, "Smile, baby, I want to see those choppers: they took their first bite out of me".

Now that she had perfected her looks and had a superstar on her arm, Christian likely thought fame was hers for the taking. That wasn't the case. 

Portrait of Errol Flynn - 1944Photoplay, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

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10. She Got Scouted

Christian had uprooted her entire life to move to Hollywood, but for the first little while she struggled to land any notable roles. Then one day, another chance encounter changed everything. Louis B Mayer's secretary spotted her at a fashion show and offered her an enviable seven-year film contract, which she scooped right up. 

Christian was again in the right place at the right time. She blew up from there—literally. 

Screenshot of Linda Christian looking at camera - from The Devil S Hand (1961)Rex Carlton Productions, The Devil's Hand (1961)

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11. She Got A Spicy Nickname

Within a few short years, Christian was able to win over Hollywood executives through her stunning, siren-like beauty. Her look epitomized the 1940s and 50s—from her soft waves to her lush lashes—and her curvy body prompted Life magazine to dub her the "Anatomic Bomb" in 1945. 

But other parts of her fame were still tricky. 

Screenshot of Linda Christian looking at doll - from The Devil S Hand (1961)Rex Carlton Productions, The Devil's Hand (1961)

12. She Started Small

Amidst all this good press, Christian landed her first Hollywood film role in the 1944 musical comedy Up In Arms, co-starring Danny Kaye and Dinah Shore. While it was a big achievement for Christian, who was still struggling to find her footing in Hollywood, her role was relatively minor. 

She played the uncredited role of “Goldwyn Girl”. Soon, however, people would definitely know her name. 

Dinah Shore at Billboard Music Yearbook - 1943Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

13. She Made Her Big Break

Finally, in 1948 Christian landed her first big (not to mention credited) role as Mara, the alluring, beautiful native of an island tribe in Tarzan and the Mermaids. Even better, the movie was filmed in her home country, Mexico, so she felt right at home. In fact, she may have been a bit too comfortable...because her diva ways started showing.

Mexican actresses Andrea Palma & Linda Christian in the film Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948)Sol Lesser Productions, Wikimedia Commons 

14. She Met An Old Co-Star

Linda Christian had the world in her hands, and she knew it. While she was filming Tarzan and the Mermaids in Mexico, she ran into screen siren Lana Turner, who Christian had actually previously worked alongside—in a thankless role as Turner's on-screen maid—in Green Dolphin Street

Christian quickly proved to Turner that she was no friend. 

Headshot of Lana Turner - 1942eBayFront and back of photo, Wikimedia Commons

15. She Eavesdropped On Gossip

At the time, Turner was in Mexico for a quick, passionate trip to visit her current lover, the dashing Tyrone Power. There is some gray area surrounding what happened next, but according to some sources, Christian overheard Turner discussing some of Power's future movements...and she came up with a diabolical plan.

Image of Lana Turner and Tyrone Power smiling - 1947Wikimedia Commons, Picryl

16. She Stalked Her Crush

Through Turner, Christian realized that Power was going to be in Rome—alone—in the coming weeks. She put her betrayal into action. Confident she was a worthy rival to the gorgeous Lana Turner, Christian hopped on a plane to Rome soon after and just "happened" to book into the same hotel Power was staying at. She didn't stop there.

Screenshot of Linda Christian packing a suitcase - from The House Of The Seven Hawks (1959)Coronado Productions, The House Of The Seven Hawks (1959)

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17. She Had A Plan

Christian, if you'll remember, was one canny cookie. So after she ran into Power oh-so-accidentally, she struck up a conversation with the charming star by asking for his autograph for her younger sister. It was enough to get her foot in the door. Whatever the truth of how she got there, her tactic was very successful. 

Screenshot of Linda Christian looking at side - from The Devil S Hand (1961)Rex Carlton Productions, The Devil's Hand (1961)

18. She Stole Her Co-Star's Lover

Linda Christian and Tyrone Power hit it off immediately. In fact, according to Christian herself, "It was love at first sight". More than that, she claimed Power "proposed to me almost immediately". Whatever Linda wanted, Linda got, and the celebrity couple made it official in a matter of months. 

Except that her hard-won fairy tale began falling apart even before she said "I do". 

Screenshot of Linda Christian talking with a man - from The Devil S Hand (1961)Rex Carlton Productions, The Devil's Hand (1961)

19. Her Wedding Caused A Riot

Christian and Power held their wedding in Rome, Italy in 1949. The wedding day began with disaster. Over 8,000 fans waited outside the church and, when Christian finally arrived 22 minutes late, the crowd broke through the barriers. It was a bad omen, but then again their marriage would have very few good ones.. 

Tyrone Power And His Bride Linda Christian - 1949Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

20. She Lost Many Children

The newlyweds announced that they wanted to have children right away, and Christian put her budding career on hold to start trying. It led to immense heartache: Over the next years, she suffered a total of three miscarriages; two boys and a girl. But soon, the couple would find success.

Screenshot of Linda Christian laying on bed sad - from The Devil S Hand (1961)Rex Carlton Productions, The Devil's Hand (1961)

21. Her Family Changed

Finally, on October 2, 1951, Christian gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Romina Power. The couple was overjoyed with their healthy baby. Then, as luck would have it, she gave birth to their second daughter, Taryn Power, on September 13, 1953. 

After years of failed pregnancies, the family was blessed with two beautiful girls. Plus, Christian could now focus on her acting career…that is, until her husband got in the way.

Romina Power, Tyrone Power And Taryn Power - 1955/56Unknown Author,  Wikimedia Commons

22. Her Husband Controlled Her Career

With both of them being actors, Christian was eager to work alongside her much more famous husband. Power, however, seemed to have other ideas: When the couple were offered leading roles in the now classic film From Here to Eternity, he rejected the offer. 

Despite what she admitted was a bitter disappointment at these losses, Christian still kept trying to get famous. She just took a new tack.

Tyrone Power, alias the Hollywood Hero, 1940sJohn Irving, Flickr

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23. She Sat For A Famous Painter

Christian landed smaller roles in some B-tier movies following her marriage to Power, but also stumbled upon some other unique gigs. She famously sat for a painting by the legendary Mexican artist Diego Rivera. The painting was in Rivera’s unmistakable style, and was one of the highlights of Christian's career thus far. 

Her next gig would earn her one of the biggest firsts in screen history. 

Diego Rivera with a xoloitzcuintle dog. - 1957Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

24. She Was The First Bond Girl

Even as her husband overshadowed her, Christian still earned her place in Hollywood history. In 1954, she starred as Vesper Lynd in a television adaptation of the James Bond novel Casino Royale—making her the very first official Bond Girl, period. 

Yet just as she got this professional success, her domestic life was taking a nosedive.

Screenshot of Linda Christian looking down with sad face - from Casino Royale (Climax!) 1954CBS, Casino Royale (Climax!) 1954

25. She Had Doubts

Despite the glitz and glamour of their initial meeting and wedding, Christian's marriage to Power wasn’t a happy one. She even made a tragic confession. Christian felt that their marriage was holding back her career—in part because of her initial difficulties giving birth to a healthy baby.

As she said, "I was pregnant almost the whole time of our marriage". There were other stressors in the relationship as well. 

Screenshot of Linda Christian with sad face - from The Devil S Hand (1961)Rex Carlton Productions, The Devil's Hand (1961)

26. She Was Jealous Of Her Husband

It wasn't just Christian's child-rearing that caused her trouble; she also grew to resent Power's continued pickiness when it came to accepting co-starring roles for them. When Power was making Mississippi Gambler, Christian felt he, as usual, didn't push hard enough to get her into the movie. 

But compared to their next issue, all this was child's play.

Screenshot of Linda Christian looking at side - from Tarzan And The Mermaids (1948)Estudios Churubusco Azteca S.a., Tarzan And The Mermaids (1948)

27. She Got Close To Her Co-Star

While dealing with these dissatisfactions in her marriage, Christian found herself getting friendly with one of her co-stars, a British actor named Edmund Purdom. She worked with him in the romantic comedy Athena, where she played his fiancee. 

Christian had also attended the same school as Purdom's wife, and the Powers and the Purdoms became close, even going on holidays together. Actually, they all got too close.

Portrait of Edmund Purdom on a boat - 1955Photoplay, January 1955, Picryl

28. They Cheated On Each Other

In the end, these double-date holidays only served to obscure the truth: That Christian and Purdom had struck up an affair with each other. Meanwhile, gossip rags were intimating that Power was often out doing the exact same thing to Christian. In good time, everyone was smelling blood in the water. And boy, was there blood. 

Portrait of Linda Christian smiling at camera.Allison Marchant, Flickr

29. She Got Divorced

The writing was on the wall, and Christian divorced Power in 1956, citing mental cruelty. But Christian's rebound was its own brand of cruelty. See, Edmund Purdom had also divorced his wife so that they could be truly free to be together...except that Christian didn't care, and didn't marry him even when she could.

Instead, she just got more scandalous. 

Portrait of Tyrone Power looking at side - 1953Carl Van Vechten, Wikimedia Commons

30. She Wrecked A Marriage

While Purdom was still just realizing he'd blown up his life for precisely nothing, Christian had moved on to the infamous playboy and socialite Robert H Schlesinger, the son of equally scandalous Countess Mona von Bismarck. And this resulted in one of her most truly infamous moments.

Edmund Purdom In Costume - 1954Frank Powolny, Wikimedia Commons

31. She Stole Her Lover’s Money

While courting Christian, Schlesinger had tried to impress the beauty by giving her jewels worth at least $100,000. Unfortunately, he paid for the items with a bad check, and Christian was called to testify about the non-payment. Her reply shocked the court. Although she showed up, she point-blank refused to give the gifts back, lawsuit or not.

Her dramatic love life only heated up after Schlesinger.

Portrait of Linda Christian looking at side and smiling - 1962Harry Pot, CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia Commons

32. She Moved On To A Millionaire

Shortly after this, Christian started dating Brazilian millionaire Francisco "Baby" Pignatari. As with so many of her lovers, Pignatari was extravagantly rich via mining interests, and took her around the world with his deep pockets. In fact, he probably had a little too much money, if the next escapade is anything to go off of. 

Francisco 'baby' Pignatari pictured at Waterloo Station - 1961Keystone, Getty Images

33. She Went Country Hopping 

Once, the glamorous couple were at a Roman nightclub when Christian lost a jade earring. Without missing a beat, Pignatari flew them both to Hong Kong to get a replacement. On the way back, they stopped off in Rio de Janeiro, where Christian picked out a diamond "engagement ring”.

Apparently, she was confident a proposal was coming soon from the millionaire. She was about to get a rude awakening.

Image of Linda Christian Is In 'Athena' - 1955Eric Carpenter,  Wikimedia Commons

34. She Got Cruelly Dumped

After Christian made a quick trip home to Mexico from Rio, her lover betrayed her in the worst way. As soon as she was out his sight, Pignatari called the press and told reporters that his affair with Christian was “definitely at an end". He further confessed that he'd only said they were engaged so he “could get her into the same hotel suites” as him. 

Unfortunately, that was just the beginning. 

Linda Christian in a scene of the film Nel sole - 1967Aldo Grimaldi / Claudio Ragona, Wikimedia Commons

35. She Was Desperate

After hearing the news, a frenzied Christian flew back to try to convince Pignatari to reunite with her. When he wouldn't see her, she phoned him incessantly, also to no avail. Cruelly, the most Pignatari did was make a lunch date with her and then, when the appointment came, he gave her one final, brutal insult.

Image of Linda Christian at airport  - 1962Harry Pot, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, Wikimedia Commons

36. She Got Totally Humiliated

Rather than have a date with her, Pignatari threw Christian a cruel goodbye party. He had a fleet of honking taxis circle her hotel room, bearing banners that said "Go Home Linda”. Associates marching in the street carried similar messages, as did a 20-foot banner flying from Pignatari's own nearby hotel. Ouch.

But though Christian may have been mortified, she didn't back down.  

Screenshot of Linda Christian looking down upset - from The House Of The Seven Hawks (1959)Coronado Productions, The House Of The Seven Hawks (1959)

37. She Could Play It Cool 

Through all this, Christian tried her best to appear unfazed. She quipped about the spectacle: "all this is very curious, very original. I'm only sorry I missed it all. I was fast asleep". More than that, she claimed she was only back in Brazil because “another man had my passport and won’t let me go". 

Incredibly, this wasn't a complete lie.

Actress Linda Christian Wearing A Sarong And Hawaiin Lei and smiling - 1954The World Famous Comedy Store from West Hollywood, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

38. She Announced Another Proposal

This other man Linda was seeing at the time was another Brazilian business tycoon, the pharmaceutical millionaire Dirceu Fontoura. But she hadn't quite learned her lesson from Pignatari. After a party on Fontoura's yacht, Christian gleefully informed the press that he had proposed to her, too. Cue: Another embarrassment. 

Screenshot of Linda Christian smiling and looking at side - from The Devil S Hand (1961)Rex Carlton Productions, The Devil's Hand (1961)

39. She Got Egg On Her Face

Unfortunately, Fontoura was just as much of a mischievous womanizer as Pignatari. When asked about this proposal by reporters, he said "Linda Christian? I think I met her once". He the denied proposing and even denied that she was ever on his yacht.

Having had enough of Brazilian philanderers, Christian flew back to the US with a new, scandalous plan in mind.

Image of Linda Christian looking down - 1966Jan Voets / Anefo, Wikimedia Commons

40. She Went Back To An Old Flame

Christian was tired of being the plaything of rich men, and she found a ruthless way back on top. Once she got back stateside, she decided to finally marry her besotted ex-lover Edmund Purdom—the man who had ended her marriage to Tyrone Power, and who had been following her like a puppy dog ever since. 

Yes, this was a horrible idea.

Linda Christian with Edmund Purdom smiling - 1964Jack de Nijs for Anefo, Wikimedia Commons

41. It Fell Apart In A Day

In the end, Christian admitted her marriage to Purdom "wasn't much of a marriage”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their time together was characterized by Purdom's incredible frustration that Christian had waited so long to marry him. Christian also said their actual time together “didn't even last 24 hours”. 

The two ended up divorcing the year after, and Christian was on to the next.

Image of Linda Christian smiling - 1964Jack de Nijs for Anefo, Wikimedia Commons

42. She Fell In Love With A Matador

Christian's career might have taken a backseat to her love life, but she did still work on films. In fact, a film set is where she met her next flame. While filming a semi-documentary film about bullfighting called The Moment of Truth, she fell in love with the charming Spanish matador Luis Dominguín. 

As the former lover of screen siren Ava Gardner, Dominguín certainly had a good bedroom pedigree...and Christian jumped right in. 

Portrait of Luis Dominguín  looking at side - 1950Paco Marí, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

43. She Uprooted Her Whole Life

Christian, not one to shy away from grand gestures, decided to move permanently to Spain to be with Dominguín. As she put it, "I went for a short visit and wound up staying seven years". But her curse struck again. Unfortunately, their relationship didn't last long, and Christian had to move on again. 

Image of Linda Christian at airport - 1965Jack de Nijs for Anefo, Wikimedia Commons

44. She Liked Danger

Christian's most famous affair was also her deadliest. A mere month after she divorced Power, Christian was also spotted with the handsome race car driver Alfonso de Portago. The Spanish hotshot was the new man in Ferrari's Formula One line-up—and he was also a married man, wedded to American socialite Carroll de Portago. 

Even worse, Carroll had recently given birth to Alfonso’s second child, Anthony, when rumors of their affair were surfacing. But that’s not where the scandal ended.

Screenshot of Linda Christian with long hair looking at side - from Tarzan And The Mermaids (1948)Estudios Churubusco Azteca S.a., Tarzan And The Mermaids (1948)

45. She Was In A Messy Love Square

Not only was Christian's new lover de Portago cheating on his wife with her, he was also dating another woman at the time, model Dorian Leigh. Oh, and Leigh was the mother of his also recently born illegitimate son, Kim. Clearly, Christian loved playing with fire, and even once professed that Alfonso was "the love” of her life.

But their brief fling met a very tragic end.

Image of Dorian Leigh wearing hat and looking at side.Jessica, Flickr

46. She Showed Her Support

On May 12, 1957, de Portago was racing in the iconic and notorious Mille Miglia race in northern Italy, where drivers rammed their cars at high speeds through tiny and winding Italian country roads. Christian, ever the dutiful mistress, was waiting to cheer de Portago on at the pit stop in Cavriana. She made it a moment to remember.

Siro Sbraci in the 1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial - 1956Ferrarichat, Picryl

47. She Made A Daring Move

During the hectic pit stop, Christian ran over to de Portago's cockpit—dressed to perfection in a dotted dress and matching head scarf—and leaned in for a kiss in front of the crowds of people and cameras. Christian would later say of the moment, "I had a strange sensation with that kiss". This was a dark premonition. 

Alfonso de Portago in the 1955 Ferrari 857 Sport  - 1957Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

48. Her Lover Met A Brutal End

After this passionate kiss, de Portago drove off—and moments later he burst a tire, crashing his Ferrari on a road lined with spectators. The aftermath was ghoulish. De Portago, his navigator Ed Nelson, and nine spectators including five children all perished in mere seconds. Suddenly, Christian had a very tragic claim to fame.

Linda Christian kissing Alfonso de Portago - 1957International, Wikimedia Commons

49. She Was A Grim Reaper

After this, no one could help remembering that iconic kiss Christian had given de Portago, but for all the wrong reasons. The Italian media labeled the photo that came out that day as “Il Bacio della Morte" or “The Kiss of Death". De Portago was only 28 years old when the terrible tragedy struck.

Alfonso De Portago and co-driver Edmund Nelson in Ferrari 335S at 1957 Mille MigliaBernard Cahier, Wikimedia Commons

50. She Went Back To The Scene Of The Crime

After her divorce from Purdom, Christian worked a little more on films in Europe, and even wrote an autobiography in 1962. But by 1968, she decided to mostly call it quits with acting and enjoy her later years. She chose Rome, Italy—famously the city where she tracked down and seduced her first husband Tyrone Power—to retire.  

Linda Christian at the opening night of the Dutch film - 1966Jan Voets (ANEFO), CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

51. She Died Of Cancer

After a long career in American and foreign film, as well as her lifetime of seduction, dating, and flings, Christian finally met her end when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. On July 22, 2011, at the age of 87, the "Anatomic Bomb" Linda Christian passed in California.

Screenshot of Linda Christian looking at side and drinking - from The Devil's Hand (1961)Rex Carlton Productions, The Devil's Hand (1961)


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