Goodnight, Moneypenny: A Tribute to Lois Maxwell

by Gerald So

Best known as the original Miss Moneypenny from the James Bond films, Lois Maxwell died September 29, 2007 at age 80. Like Desmond Llewelyn (Q), Maxwell became an anchor, letting viewers know they were in the world of Bond, whatever year it was and whoever was playing Bond.

Born Lois Hooker on February 14, 1927 in Kitchener, Ontario, she ran away from home at age 15 to join the Canadian Army in World War II and became part of the Army Entertainment Corps. Her true age was discovered while the group was in London, and she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts to avoid court martial and deportation back to Canada. It was at RADA she befriended fellow student Roger Moore.

Maxwell lobbied for a role in Dr. No as her husband had had a heart attack and they needed money. Director Terence Young offered her the choice between Moneypenny and Bond girl Sylvia Trench.

While still acting in the Bond films in the 1980s, Maxwell became a columnist for the Toronto Sun, sharing stories of her experiences on set, her life in general, and topics of the day. Having played Moneypenny in fourteen films from Dr. No through A View to a Kill, Maxwell asked that her character be killed off. Producer Cubby Broccoli chose to recast.

In 1994, Maxwell returned to England to be near her daughter. Since undergoing cancer surgery in 2001, she had lived with her son’s family in Perth, Australia.

Moneypenny and Bond customarily share sexual innuendo before 007 receives perilous missions from M. While many perceive (and subsequent actors have played) Moneypenny as infatuated or pining for Bond, I felt Maxwell brought a quiet dignity that made Bond seem the hopeless pursuer.

For more of Gerald’s thoughts and observations, check out his blog: If you want to know about my Life…