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Casting Call: Gayle Hunnicutt

28th December 2013

American actress Gayle Hunnicutt was the first choice for Solitaire in 'Live And Let Die'

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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Actress: Gayle Hunnicutt
Born: February 6, 1943 (Fort Worth, Texas, USA)
Film: "Live And Let Die" (1973)
Role: Solitaire

American actress Gayle Hunnicutt, then aged 30, was the first choice for the role of Solitaire in "Live And Let Die" after the part had been re-written for a white actress. Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz originally (very loosely) adapted Ian Fleming's novel with Solitaire being African-American - specifically, Diana Ross. But pressure from United Artists for a 'safe script', despite the blaxploitation trend at the time, forced the racial flip with the Rosie Carver role.

Hunnicutt would have become the first Bond girl of the Roger Moore era had it not been for her pregnancy. Hunnicutt married British actor David Hemmings a few years earlier in 1968 and the couple later had a son, the future actor Nolan Hemmings.

From her film debut in 1966's "Marlowe" until she left Hollywood in 1969, Hunnicutt was typecast as a brunette sexpot. After she moved to England with Hemmings in 1970, Hunnicutt was able to use the finer range of her acting, including: a notable role as Charlotte Stant, in Jack Pulman's adaptation of Henry James's novel "The Golden Bowl", Lionel's wife in "The Legend of Hell House" and Tsarina Alexandra in "Fall of Eagles". Hunnicutt returned to the United States in 1989, where she played the role of Vanessa Beaumont in Dallas until 1991.

Despite missing out on her Bond Girl role, Hunnicutt had a couple of brushes with other franchises connected with Roger Moore. She appeared in the 1984 TV series "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and twice with The Saint, in the 1979 episode "The Saint and the Brave Goose" and also the 1989 TV movie "The Saint: The Brazilian Connection." A British citizen, Hunnicutt now splits here time between the English countryside and Florida.

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