Bond Girl: Della Churchill

Della Churchill was the fictional fiancée and wife of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, Felix Leiter. She first appeared in the 1989 James Bond film Licence to Kill and was portrayed by American actress Priscilla Barnes. The character was subsequently re-imagined in the 2012 video game 007 Legends.


During the pre-title sequence of Licence to Kill, Felix is on his way to marry Della when he unexpectedly learns that drug lord, Franz Sanchez, is in Florida. With the help of his Best Man, James Bond, Leiter pursues Sanchez, and they return victorious. They parachute into the church, and the wedding commences. At the reception, the bride and groom present 007 with a gift – an engraved cigarette lighter. Following the festivities, she unintentionally references Bond’s earlier short-lived marriage to Tracy Bond, unsettling him and foreshadowing her own fate. Leiter lifts her across the threshold of their bedroom, only to be ambushed by two of Sanchez’s henchmen. Their leader, Dario, steps out from behind the door and cudgels Leiter with his pistol. After killing Della in a manner suggestive of rape, the unconscious Felix is taken to a warehouse. Asking where his wife is, Dario mockingly informs him, “We gave her a nice honeymoooooon…” Sanchez then lowers him into a shark tank. A visibly shaken Bond later finds Della dead on her bed and soon swears to wreak havoc on the men responsible for her death and Felix’s maiming.

Behind the Scenes

The script – initially called Licence Revoked – was written with actor Timothy Dalton’s characterization of James Bond in mind, and the obsession with which Bond pursues Sanchez on behalf of Leiter and his dead wife is seen as being because “of his own brutally cut-short marriage” to Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. However, Bond’s marriage was even mentioned in the film.