Margaret Nolan, 1943 – 2020

Margaret Ann Nolan, British actor and artist, born 29 October 1943; died 5 October 2020.

Margaret Nolan, who has died aged 76, took roles that showed off her striking figure and also engaged in political theatre, her deeply held passion.

She was a popular member of the Carry On team – and she admired the skills of the comedy performers she worked alongside, learning much from them. Nolan played a secretary in Carry on Cowboy (1965), then a “buxom lass” in Carry on Henry (1971), with the roles getting better, and benefiting from her knowing performances, through Carry on at Your Convenience (1971), Carry on Matron (1972), Carry on Girls (which included a memorable fight scene with Barbara Windsor, 1973) and Carry on Dick (1974).

For the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964) she was sprayed gold and costumed in a matching bikini to adorn the striking opening title sequence (pre-empting the on-screen fate of Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson): the images were used on posters and merchandise and Nolan also played Bond’s masseuse, Dink, in the film.

Seeking a change and sometimes disenchanted with the kinds of roles on offer, she retired from acting in 1983. Out of the limelight for some time, she decided to deconstruct her past image artistically by cutting up various black-and-white stills of herself and mounting them in striking montages. The resulting abstractions encapsulated the dissonance between her as “this passive woman, being looked at” and the one who “behind it all, behind my eyes, knew what was going on”. They were successfully exhibited in Spain (2007), at the Brick Lane gallery in London (2009) and, as part of the feminist exhibition Equals, at the Blankspace gallery in Manchester (2013).

The Guardian

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