Claudine Auger, the actress best known for playing Dominique "Domino" Derval in the James Bond film Thunderball, has passed away. She was 78 years old. Auger, a French actress who mostly appeared in films made in that language, was the first French "Bond girl." She appeared in dozens of films and TV shows between 1958 and 1997. Ironically, the role of Domino was originally written for an Italian woman, but Auger met writer and producer Kevin McClory while on holiday in Nassau. He immediately liked her for the part and set about reworking it so that it could be a French character.
Auger was born in 1941 in Paris. She attended St. Joan of Arc College and the Conservatoire de Paris, where she was still enrolled when she made her film debut. At age 18, she married then-43-year-old writer-director Pierre Gaspard-Huit, and would later say that she related to Domino as they were both involved with older men. Gaspard-Huit would go on to cast her in a number of films, including Le Masque de fer and Kali Yug: Goddess of Vengeance. The pair would later divorce, and she went on to marry businessman Peter Brent in the 1980s.
Most fans learned about her passing from the official James Bond Twitter account, which sent out a message reading, "It’s with great sadness we have learnt that Claudine Auger, who played Domino Derval in Thunderball (1965), has passed away at the age of 78. Our thoughts are with her family and friends."
The Bond film was, as you might expect, a revelation for her career, and she went from minor roles to major ones, appearing in Triple Cross the next year. The World War II drama also featured Hollywood legends Yul Brynner and Christopher Plummer. That same year, she did The Road to Lebanon with Bing Crosby, which aired on NBC. Besides those, it was rare that she would work in Hollywood and preferred European cinema. Even her role as Domino was dubbed over by Nikki van der Zyl, despite Auger having taken language lessons to help her with the part.
In one of her final roles, Auger appeared in the British television series The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, in "The Three Gables" as Isadora Klein. This came after a long and successful career in European cinema and just before her 20-year retirement.
Auger is survived by her daughter, Jessica Claudine Brent.