Claudine Auger, 'Thunderball' Actress, Dead at 78

Claudine Auger, the French actress who played the "Bond girl" in Thunderball opposite Sean Connery, died, her talent agency said Friday. Auger was the first of several French actresses to play the "Bond girl" role in a James Bond movie, setting the stage for Eva Green, Carole Bouquet, Sophie Marceau and Lea Seydoux. Auger was 78.

The actress' talent agent Art Time announced her death, reports Variety. She died in Paris.

"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," the official James Bond Twitter account announced. "Our thoughts are with her family and friends."

Auger was born in Paris on April 26, 1941. She first worked as a model, serving as France's representative in the 1958 Miss World pageant. Her first acting role was an uncredited part in Testament of Orpheus, the final film directed by French playwright and director Jean Cocteau.

In the early 1960s, she made several films for director Pierre Gaspard-Huit, whom she married at 18. She also caught the attention of producer Kevin McClory, who suggested she audition for Thunderball, the fourth James Bond movie starring Connery. She won the role of Domino Derval, reportedly beating out Julie Christie, Raquel Welch and Faye Dunaway.

Thunderball helped introduce Auger to an international audience, but she never found major success in the U.S. She did star in the war epic Triple Cross in 1966, director Terence Young's follow-up to Thunderball. Other films on her resume include The Killing Game, Black Jack, Secret Places, What Every Frenchwoman Wants and Men Always Lie. She continued working through the 1990s, with her final credit being the 1997 TV movie The Red and The Black.

Coincidentally, Augerr worked with Bond girls in other films. In 1968, she starred in Anyone Can Play, an Italian comedy that co-starred Ursula Andress. In 1971, she joined Barbara Bach and Barbara Bouchet in the Italian mystery Black Belly of the Tarantula.

Auger was married twice, first to Gaspard-Huit, and then to British businessman Peter Brent.

After news broke of Auger's death, Bond fans quickly paid tribute.

"She was and will always be my #1 Bond girl," one fan wrote. "Rest in peace Claudine."

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"One of my very favorite Bond Girls, and a contender for number one," another wrote. "Rest in peace."

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