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Claim: The actress who portrayed Jill Masterson in the James Bond film Goldfinger died from asphyxiation after being covered with gold paint.
Origins: In Goldfinger, after secretary Jill Masterson betrays her boss, the evil Auric Goldfinger, he kills her in style by painting her entire body gold. As James Bond explains when Masterson's body is discovered, covering a person with paint will cause death because the body "breathes" through the skin. He then goes on to state that professional dancers know to leave a small patch of unpainted skin at the base of the spine to prevent their falling victim to asphyxiation.
Although it was still widely believed at the time Goldfinger was made (1964) that we "breathe" through our skin and that closing off all the pores in one's body would result in a quick death, we now know this to be false. (Another commonly accepted part of this concept was the notion that leaving a small portion of the body unpainted was sufficient to ward off disaster.) As long as a person can breathe through his mouth and/or nose, he will not die of asphyxiation, no matter how much of his body is covered with paint (or any other substance). This isn't to say that painting yourself isn't unsafe, however
When Shirley Eaton, the actress who portrayed Auric Goldfinger's doomed secretary, was covered with paint for the "gold corpse" scene, the studio had a few doctors standing by to ensure that she was not overcome by the effects of the paint. She wasn't completely naked in this scene (she wore a
On the surface this sounds like a pretty silly story
Incidentally, Goldfinger was not the first film in which a person was killed by being covered with gold paint. That honor belongs to the 1946 Boris Karloff movie Bedlam.
Additional Information: The two video clips below feature James Bond discovering Goldfinger's dead secretary and his explaining how she was killed. James Bond discovers Jill Masterson's body James Bond explains Jill Masterson's death
Last updated: 17 August 2007
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