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Goldfinger: The Man with the Golden Touch

Everybody loves a James Bond movie, right? The movie franchise comprises some of the most popular theatrical releases of all time and part of that excitement is in the films’  luxury—the expensiveness and richness of the sets and props. The movies are often dripping with jewels, gold and other precious ornaments adorning luscious female stars affectionately known as “Bond Girls.”

But one of the most famous Bond movie scenes shows one of the villain’s female minions dying a horrible death. In Goldfinger, secretary Jill Masterson betrays her boss, super-villain Auric Goldfinger, who kills her by painting her entire body in gold paint. She dies from lack of oxygen, as explained by James Bond, because the body “breathes” through the skin. 

It is a stunning scene in the movie: a beautiful young woman gilded with full body paint, lying on a bed in Bond’s hotel room. And interestingly enough, there was an urban myth that fooled people for years into believing that the actress who played the secretary, Shirley Eaton, died as a result of her participation in the film.

It’s an intriguing story, isn’t it? “Artist dies for their craft.” Except that it’s not true. When Miss Eaton was covered with paint for the “gold corpse scene,” the studio had doctors standing by to make sure she wasn’t overcome by the effects of the paint. The body paint experts also left a small portion of her skin unpainted as a precaution. She didn’t die or even become ill as a result of her Goldfinger experience, although she probably did walk away with a bit of movie gold on her resume and a story to tell for years to come. (She has her own Snopes page debunking the death myth, too!)

Gold body paint is intriguing stuff, but it doesn’t contain much, if any gold. It’s usually a powdered metal and getting it off your body can be as simple as using some soap and water. There is undoubtedly a “prestige product” out there made with flaked gold, but we think you’ll agree gold is much better sold for cash than used as paint.

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