Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

The mystical mistress of the tarot cards portrayed by Jane Seymour in Live and Let Die. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Solitaire has the supernatural power of the obeah—the “second sight.” Because of this gift, she’s a virtual slave to drug smuggler Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), who is relying on the amazingly accurate predictions of her cards to corner the North American heroin market. Her mother lost the power when she lost her virginity, and Solitaire faces that same fate when she meets James Bond (Roger Moore, in his first Bond appearance), who is not a strong believer in the occult. He tricks her into bed by using a fake deck of tarot cards—all of which depict the Lovers symbol. Deprived of her power, Solitaire falls in love with Bond and eventually helps him destroy Kananga’s island empire.

In an early draft of the Live and Let Die script, writer Tom Mankiewicz departed from Ian Fleming’s original description of Solitaire as a beautiful white fortune-teller. Said Mankiewicz, “This was at a time when Shaft had come out and there was a whole new wave of black exploitation films that were making a lot of money. So I thought that this time out, if we do Live and Let Die, Bond could get into bed with a black girl—in our case, Solitaire, who was of Haitian origin. Everybody said ‘great,’ and David Picker of United Artists went along with us. So, in my early script, Solitaire became this beautiful black girl.” Meanwhile, CIA agent Rosie Carver, played in the finished film by African American actress Gloria Hendry, was originally white.

“At the last minute, however, United Artists changed their mind,” Mankiewicz explained. “In their defense, I saw that they were very nervous about having a new James Bond and were unwilling to try something different when it came to a Bond girl. If Sean Connery had come back for this one, we wouldn’t have had any problems. But in the back of UA’s mind was the Lazenby affair, where the public didn’t readily accept a new Bond right off, and they were very wary about Roger Moore’s chances. He wasn’t by any means a sure thing. Picker told me that although he liked the idea of a black Solitaire and felt it would work in progressive cities like New York and London, he felt that when the film was distributed in the places where the Bond movies had done very well—the so-called hinterlands—there would be a lot of people who didn’t want Bond championing the cause of civil rights. Picker said that the decision was simply a matter of economic fact and that the studio wasn’t making an On the Waterfront but a commercial James Bond film. ‘And frankly,’ Picker told me, ‘with Roger, we’re scared.’ Of course, nobody bothered to tell me about the decision. I found out when suddenly I heard the studio execs mentioning Catherine Deneuve to play Solitaire, which I thought was pretty funny considering I had written her as being black.”

The writer added, “I thought Jane Seymour was badly miscast as Solitaire. I think a much flashier girl should have been used, especially in Roger’s first Bond film. Jane was so sweet and adorable looking that when Roger got into bed with her, it didn’t work at all. It almost looked as if she was being taken advantage of. She’s the type of girl you want to bring home to your mother, as opposed to a Bond girl who really knows her way around.”[1]

[1] Tom Mankiewicz, interview by Steven Jay Rubin, Los Angeles, November 7, 1977.


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