Website last updated: 7-5-2024

In Memoriam of Thunderball's Claudine Auger (1941-2019)

By: Mark Cerulli
Claudine Auger Thunderball Askbollen Stockholm
With a new James Bond film on the horizon and a flurry of new 007 products starting to appear in stores, excitement and anticipation is building with Bond fans ... but unfortunately 2019 is ending on a very sad note with the passing of iconic French Bond beauty Claudine Auger – Domino in 1965’s masterpiece Thunderball directed by Terence Young.

Upon receiving the sad news of Ms. Auger's passing, FSWL supporter Martine Beswicke (Paula Caplan in Thunderball) sent us the following message:

“So sad to hear about Claudine as we were very good friends on Thunderball. I always thought of her as the most elegant of us all. I’m just sorry we did not keep in touch. She holds a special place in my heart. Lots of love to her family. - Martine xx”

Martine Beswicke, Claudine Auger and Luciana Paluzzi in Bahamas 1965
Martine Beswicke, Claudine Auger and Luciana Paluzzi in Bahamas for Thunderball. Copyright © 1965 Danjaq S.A. & United Artists Corporation. All rights reserved.

About French actress Claudine Auger

Claudine Auger won the Miss France title in 1958 and was a runner-up in that year’s Miss World contest, however the Paris-born beauty had a very short acting resume when she landed the coveted role of Domino opposite Sean Connery. Although the action film marketplace seems crowded now, in the early 1960s, the Bond franchise practically invented it and no Bond was bigger than Thunderball. The role made Ms. Auger an international sensation at the age of 23! It was the highest grossing film of 1965 and really kicked “Bondmania” into high gear around the globe. Some theaters ran the film around the clock and long lines at the Cinemas were routine. When the box office receipts were tallied, Thunderball grossed over 63 Million USD – a stunning amount in those days. (These days, that would be over 1 Billion USD with inflation!)

Claudine Auger – forever Dominetta "Domino" Derval in Thunderball

The chemistry between Auger and Connery was real and they seemed to enjoy making the epic film on location in the Bahamas. Seldom has a part fit an actress so closely – even if her voice was dubbed in the final cut. Reportedly American actress Raquel Welch was lined up for the role, but Darryl F. Zanuck asked Bond producer Cubby Broccli to release her for his big budget sci-fi project, Fantastic Voyage, and he agreed. Other noted actresses under consideration by producers Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were Julie Christie and Faye Dunaway. Their loss was a life-changer for the young French actress, whose lovely face and bikini-clad body were splashed across publications around the world.

After Bond, Auger had a long career in French and European cinema, making dozens of films and taking on numerous TV roles. In 1968 she even starred with another Bond icon, Ursula Andress in the Italian comedy, Anyone Can Play. During the last few years she battled health issues and kept a relatively low profile, never making fan appearances and only rarely gracing the red carpets at Cannes and other festivals. Her death at age 78 marks the first passing of a lead Bond Girl and is a huge loss to her family and friends as well as the Bond community and the Cinema world at large.

Claudine Auger in Stockholm 1967 with Yves Montand
Claudine Auger in Stockholm 1967 with Yves Montand. Copyright © TT Historical. All rights reserved.

Although the statuesque actress is gone, her classic role in one of the most successful (and for many fans, one of the best) Bond films, will endure forever. RIP and Merci.

FSWL contributor Joe Darlington remembering Claudine Auger in special video:

For more information about Claudine Auger, check out her IMDB profile.



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