Bond Girl: Rosa Klebb

Colonel Rosa Klebb (Russian: Роза Клебб) (also known as Number 3) was a fictional Russian military but also an operative and board member of the secretive criminal organization, SPECTRE. She was based on the literary character from the 1957 Ian Fleming novel, From Russia with Love. One of the main antagonists in the 1963 James Bond film From Russia with Love, she was portrayed by the late Austrian actress and singer Lotte Lenya. Bearing the likeness of Lenya, Klebb would later be re-imagined for the Electronic Arts 2005 video game adaptation of the film. She was also a playable character in the 2010 GoldenEye 007 and the 2012 video game 007 Legends.


Rosa Klebb comes from the Soviet Union. During her military career, she proved highly nefarious and therefore rose to the head of operations for SMERSH. Around 1960, however, she proved a traitor, turned her back on her country, and defected to the international criminal organization SPECTRE. Her defection was kept quiet, and only the highest of Soviet officials knew of it. Ernst Stavro Blofeld refers to her as “No. 3,” indicating that she is the third highest ranking individual in SPECTRE behind only himself and Emilio Largo. Tov Kronsteen briefed her and Blofeld on the mission, saying they would obtain a Lektor decoding machine from the Soviets with the inadvertent assistance of a Russian girl and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6).


Kronsteen was sure that MI6 would send James Bond, so SPECTRE would also be able to take revenge for the killing of Dr. Julius No. Klebb was given the responsibility of choosing the girl and the henchman to kill Bond. She selected Red Grant for the mission and visited him at SPECTRE Island, punching him in the stomach with a knuckle duster to test his strength. Grant barely flinched, and Klebb left, telling him to report to her in Istanbul in 24 hours.

Klebb then returned to Istanbul and met Tatiana Romanova, who she had selected to lure Bond to the country. She told Tatiana that she had been selected for a mission to give false information to the enemy, not telling her the actual plan. She also said she would be shot if she talked and wouldn’t leave the room alive if she refused to obey her orders. Klebb checked her out and asked about her prior lovers to see if she would be good enough for the assignment.

Grant tailed Tatiana and Bond around Istanbul, with Klebb sometimes assisting him. In the honeymoon suite, Klebb was behind a two-way mirror, filming them both to use as part of the plan later on. When Grant failed the mission, getting killed by Bond, Klebb and Kronsteen reported to Blofeld, blaming the other for the plan’s failure. Blofeld said SPECTRE didn’t tolerate failure and called in his agent, Morzeny. Blofeld reminded Klebb that she knew the penalty for failure, to which she responded affirmatively. Morzeny flipped a poison-tipped knife out of his shoe, and Klebb braced for the blow, but Kronsteen got spiked and killed, much to their shock. Klebb showed visible relief at her survival and was given one last chance to get the Lektor and kill Bond.

Since Bond has escaped to Venice with Romanova, Klebb sees her chance to kill him before he turns in the Lektor at the British Consultation. Disguised as a chambermaid, she enters the hotel where Bond and Tatiana are staying. This also allows her to enter the room, and she wants to steal the Lektor, but she does not get a chance to do so secretly. Moreover, Romanova recognizes Klebb, so she pulls out a gun in frustration and keeps Bond at bay. Convinced that Romanova is still loyal to her, she sends her off with the Lektor, but Romanova lunges at her and disarms her. Klebb then extends the same poison blade that killed Kronsteen from her shoe and tries to kill Bond with it, but is shot by Tatiana during the melee and dies in a few seconds.

Awards and Decorations

  • Order of Lenin: The highest civilian order of the Soviet Union, awarded one time for Klebb’s services to state & society.
  • Order of Glory: This order (introduced in 1943) indicates that Klebb fought the German invaders during the Great Patriotic War (WWII). She most likely performed specific actions against the enemy.
  • Jubilee Medal “30 Years of the Soviet Army and Navy”: Awarded to anyone serving in the Soviet military on February 22, 1948.
  • Medal for Distinguished Labour: For some reason, Klebb was awarded this medal for contributions in the fields of science, culture, and the manufacturing industry.
  • The blue-yellow-blue ribbon on the third row down on the right is purely fictional. However, a medal using this ribbon (Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Forces of the USSR) was established in 1974, 11 years after the movie.)

Behind the scenes

Greek actress Katina Paxinou was initially considered for the role of Rosa Klebb but was unavailable. Director Terence Young cast Lotte Lenya after hearing one of her musical recordings.

It is strongly implied in the film and explicitly stated in the novel that Klebb is a lesbian. Her rugged, almost masculine appearance, coupled with several instances when she touches Tatiana and comments on her beauty or her reaction when Morzeny touches her, give a 1963-era stereotype for this aspect of the character. The lesbianism of Klebb was toned down in the movie, probably to avoid a restricted rating, though it is strongly implied in the novel. Klebb’s poison-tipped shoe has also become an icon, even making a small appearance in the Pierce Brosnan film Die Another Day; they can be spotted in Q’s laboratory, and Bond deploys the blade, prompting him to comment on the deadly but fashionable footwear.