Bond Girl: Honey Ryder

Honeychile Rider is a fictional character in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel Dr. No. In the 1962 Bond film of the same name, her name was shortened and changed to Honey Ryder. In the film, she is played by Swiss actress Ursula Andress and, due to her heavy accent, was dubbed by Nikki van der Zyl.

In the film series, Ryder is widely regarded as the first Bond girl, although she is not the first woman in the film to be with Bond (that distinction belongs to Sylvia Trench, while Miss Taro was Bond’s first mission-related “conquest”). Ryder’s entrance in the film, emerging from the ocean in a white bikini, holding two large seashells while the sun shines on her wet blonde hair, is considered a classic James Bond moment, establishing both the character and actress as a sex symbol. The bikini is a movie invention – in the corresponding scene of the novel, Dr. No, the character Honeychile Rider emerges wearing her belt only.

Andress referred to the Dr. No bikini as the “secret of her success.”

In the novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Ursula Andress was later mentioned by name and described as a “beautiful movie star.” As such, Andress is the first of only two entertainers that have starred in a Bond film to be mentioned by Fleming in his James Bond novels. The other is David Niven, who co-starred as James Bond in the 1967 film adaptation of Casino Royale, which also starred Andress.

Honey Ryder is a beachcomber who makes living selling seashells in Miami. As in the novel, she is a very independent woman claiming not to need help from anyone. Resourceful and courageous, Ryder states that she can defend herself against any hostility when she first meets Bond. Although she is at first wary of Bond, he is allowed to get closer when he comments that his intentions are honorable.

Like Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, Ryder does not appear until halfway through the film. She comes out of the ocean singing “Under the Mango Tree” Bond startles her when he joins in singing. She pulls her dagger out, wary of Bond’s position but grows to trust him. Ryder shows Quarrel and Bond a secret way to escape No’s men while being chased. After they evade No’s men, she tells Bond how her father died when on Crab Key and that a local landlord raped her. Ryder relates how she got her revenge by putting a black widow spider in his mosquito net and causing his lingering death. Quarrel, Bond, and Ryder have a close encounter with No’s “dragon” when in a marshy region of the island. Quarrel dies, and the remaining two get captured. No’s men wash away radiation that Honey and Bond got on their clothes, and they get rooms of luxury. The next day, they meet Doctor No. When in conversation, No has Ryder taken away. After Bond kills No, he saves her from the island, and they make love in a towed boat.