A few months ago, back in April, we lost my all time favourite Bond girl. Pussy Galore, played by Honor Blackman, was a class act and her mix of beauty, brains and brawn made her a formidable girl for James Bond to conquer… she was lesbian in the book don’t you know? Today we lost another Bond girl and if Pussy Galore was my favourite, then Countess Teresa ‘Tracy’ di Vicenzo was a very close second. Played by the amazing Diana Rigg, who sadly died today.
Now, when I do these in memorandum articles of stars we have recently lost, I tend to do a whole look back at their career and life in general… I don’t want to do that this time around, I’m sure other sites will do just that. Instead, I want to look at the impact this Bond girl had in the James Bond character and the franchise as a whole. I mean, she is the only Bond girl to ever tame Mr Bond. But before I do get into that, there’s just a little quick thing I want to bring up.
I’ve already mentioned the passing of Honor Blackman earlier this year. Now with Diana Rigg gone too, there’s a little something the also connects them outside of the whole Bond girl thing.
Yup, Honor Blackman played Cathy Gale, the sidekick to Patrick Macnee’s, John Steed in the classic sixties TV show, The Avengers (Iron Man not included). But when Honor left the show at the end of the third series (to play Pussy Galore in Goldfinger), a replacement was needed. Enter Diana Rigg as Mrs Emma Peel. So we’ve not only lost two great Bond girls within a few months, we’ve also lost two feisty Avengers too.
So anyway, back onto the point of this article and time to take a look at just how much of an impact Diana Rigg’s, Tracy di Vicenzo had on James Bond.
Appearing in the only Bond film that George Lazenby was in, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which incidentally is one of my favourite Bond flicks. Tracy was the only girl in the original franchise to mean more to James Bond than just an opportunity to get his leg over. We all know how ‘disposable’ Bond girls are in the movies. They appear in one film, James Bond seduces them and are never mentioned again. Not Tracy di Vicenzo though, she was much more than just another notch in Bond’s bedpost. He actually fell in love with this one. This wasn’t just a roll in the hay of the stables of the main villain, this was a genuine and evolving relationship between James Bond and Tracy di Vicenzo, up to the point where they actually got married and Tracy became Mrs Tracy Bond. Not a sham marriage to cover tracks, get out of the country, get a green card or any other flimsy excuse. This was a marriage of love and respect. James Bond actually married one of his girls.
The wedding was a massive shock at the time as Bond was already very firmly established as a womaniser, a casual sex kind of guy, the ultimate bachelor. No woman could ever tie him down… but Tracy did. However, that shock of the wedding was soon overshadowed as the happy couple drove off at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, planning their lives together and talking about having children, for Tracy to then be tragically killed by James Bond’s arch nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (well his hench-woman, Irma Bunt) in a drive-by shooting.
As Bond cradles his dead wife, he talks about her as if she’s still alive (“she’s having a rest”), as if he can’t believe that she’s gone… and then he says it, he says the line. “There’s no hurry you see, we have all the time in the world”. It’s really genuinely heart breaking, not just for James Bond, but also the viewer. Perhaps the darkest moment in James Bond history and a moment that was never fully forgotten.
Usually, there’s very little, if any continuity in the James Bond franchise. Each film is pretty much like a restart, a new mission that doesn’t reference any previous Bond films. There is the odd exception here and there, the 40th anniversary of the Bond franchise and the many references in Die Another Day as an example. But generally speaking, events from one Bond film tend not to impact another… until the Daniel Craig era anyway. But Tracy’s death was referenced in the movies from that point on and I’m going to see if I can mention all of them.
Strangely, the next film after Tracy’s death doesn’t mention her at all. Sean Connery returns for Diamonds Are Forever and it opens up in that classic Bond manner of a pre-title action sequence. Here, Bond is tracking down Blofeld. We can assume it’s to get revenge for killing Tracy… but it’s never mentioned if that is the reason. It could just be Bond going after his nemesis because that’s what he does. I’ve always felt that Diamonds Are Forever should’ve referenced Tracy in some way, but it never did and missed the perfect reason to give Bond motivation. However, the first and often overlooked reference of Tracy is from when Roger Moore stepped into the tuxedo for The Spy Who Loved Me. When Bond meets Russian agent, Anya Amasova, she begins to talk about James Bond’s life, she says of Bond that he was “married only once. Wife was…”. Her speech is cut off by Bond saying how she had made her point, to which Anya replies that Bond is sensitive about certain things. Yup, I guess your new wife dying, after being gunned down in cold blood by your most bitter enemy is kind of sensitive.
Next up is perhaps the most famous reference. It comes from For Your Eyes Only. In it, James Bond is actually standing at the grave of Tracy, on which he places some roses. The grave clearly has the immortal line engraved into it to… we have all the time in the world.
After which, Bond boards a helicopter controlled by Blofeld, sending James on the ride of his life. Once Bond gets control of the copter, he manages to pick up Blofeld and drops him into a industrial smokestack. Presumably killing him and finally getting his revenge for Tracy’s murder. Though due to some strange licencing and legal issues, Blofeld is not actually credited as Blofeld but as ‘Bald-Headed Man with White Cat’.
The next reference comes in the Timothy Dalton starring Licence to Kill. In this flick, CIA operative and friend of James Bond, Felix Leiter gets married. Felix’s new wife, Delta throws her garter after the wedding and Bond catches it. She then suggests that he (Bond) will marry next. James Bond looks upset and leaves. Delta asks Felix if she said anything wrong, to which he replies that Bond was married “a long time ago”. Plus there is the whole plot of Delta being killed shorty after getting married in the film that mirrors James and Tracy’s short marriage. In fact, it could be suggested that the reason Bond goes after the main bad guys in this film is because he was motivated by the memories of his own tragically short marriage.
Another film another Bond as Pierce Brosnan’s first foray also has a reference. In GoldenEye, naughty 006, Alec Trevelyan asks Bond if he has “found forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women for the dead ones you failed to protect?”. Now, this one is a bit more vague as doesn’t directly reference Tracy or their marriage… but Bond gives a certain look that to me, says a lot. A look that’s not just one failed relationships with random women, a look that has a lot of pain behind it. Sticking with Pierce Brosnan and The World Is Not Enough. When Bond is talking to Elektra King (whose father was killed in the opening sequence), she asks if Bond has ever lost anyone he truly loved. Bond never replies, he offers another one of ‘those’ looks and seems to be very unconformable by the question. Bond then changes the subject and continues the conversation.
I believe that is all the references, either direct or just passing to the death of Tracy. But it goes to show that Mrs Tracy Bond’s death is one that had a bigger impact on James’ life than you first realise… and it’s all thanks to the wonderfully beautiful and charming Diana Rigg. She was more than just a typical Bond girl, she was Mrs James Bond.
“I thought it was ridiculous that I was being paid less than a cameraman, and I wanted to shame them. And I did.”
– Diana Rigg