I hope you’re not disappointed

So says James Bond (Sean Connery) to Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) in a bed scene in From Russia With Love, the second and last of the purely dramatic Bond films. (From Goldfinger apparently until infinity, you could always see the finger pressing the Irony button.) Says Tatiana: “I will tell you … in the morning.” Pretty shrewd for an ingenue.

Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova

Bianchi, first runner-up to Miss Universe in 1960, was born in Rome on this day in 1942; at 21, she was, and is, the youngest actress ever to play a leading Bond girl. And if it seems odd that an Italian woman should be playing a clerk at the Soviet consulate in Istanbul, well, consider that Bond’s contact in Turkey, Ali Kerim Bey, is played by, um, Pedro Armendáriz — or was, until his death during production. (In the last few scenes to be shot, he was doubled by director Terence Young.)

Her career didn’t exactly take off, though she did get steady work in Europe (and three episodes of the US television series Dr. Kildare) through the 1960s. In this shot, Bianchi is an heiress with the wealthy-sounding name Mercedes, in a film with several titles: for the US, The Balearic Caper, which sounded ever so much more cerebral than the original Italian title Zarabanda Bing Bing.

Daniela Bianchi as a wealthy heiress

In 1970, having found True Love with a shipping magnate from Genoa, Daniela Bianchi retired from film; she returned only once, in We’re Nothing Like James Bond (2013), the story of two fiftyish guys who wonder where their youth has gone, and decide that they should try to talk Sean Connery into revealing the secret of immortality. Bianchi, inevitably, plays herself.

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