Linda Christian

Loomis Dean//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Linda Christian, the curvy Mexican movie star who is best remembered as the original Bond girl in a 1954 small-screen adaptation of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale, died in Palm Desert, Calif. on Friday. She was 87.

According to reports, Christian had been battling colon cancer for some time.

The actress played Vesper Lynd, who caught 007's eye in the CBS TV movie starring Barry Nelson as the suave superspy.

An installment in the CBS anthology series Climax!, the production came eight years before Sean Connery launched the big-screen franchise with Dr. No. The sexy role of Vesper would eventually be played by Ursula Andress in the 1966 parody version starring Woody Allen (Andress also starred as the first big screen Bond girl, Honey Ryder, in Dr. No) and then Eva Green in 2006's Casino Royale with Daniel Craig.

After initially pursuing a career in medicine, a chance meeting with Errol Flynn prompted Christian to set her sights on Hollywood. She eventually caught the attention of Louis B. Mayer's secretary after appearing in a fashion show and the MGM mogul signed her to a seven-year contract.

She debuted opposite Danny Kaye in the 1944 musical Up in Arms and appeared in dozens of flicks over her five-decade career, including 1947's Green Dolphin Street, 1948's Tarzan and the Mermaids and 1953's Slaves of Babylon. In 1963, she costarred with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Orson Welles in The V.I.P.s.

Christian was so famous for her curves that Life magazine once dubbed her the "anatomic bomb."

Born Blanca Rosa Welter on Nov. 13, 1923, Christian grew up the daughter of an oil company executive who moved often, which enabled her to speak several foreign languages.

She married Tyrone Power in 1949. They divorced in 1956 (Power died two years later of a heart attack) and she married her second husband, actor Edmund Purdom, a few years later.

Christian is survived by her two daughters with Powell, actress Taryn Power and singer Romina Power, and eight grandchildren.

Photos 2011's Fallen Stars

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