James Bond girl eyes HBO, Netflix deal for book

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James Bond girl eyes HBO, Netflix deal for book

Former beauty queen wants to portray more positive Jamaica in new book

BY DESMOND ALLEN
Executive editor – special
assignment
allend@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, February 21, 2020

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IF Miss Jamaica 1961 Marguerite Lewars had not married the Trinidadian media titan Ken Gordon and adopted his Caribbean island as her home, more Jamaicans might have known of her history as one of the first James Bond girls in Ian Fleming's Dr No , which was filmed here in 1962.

They would also not be surprised that the former Jamaican beauty queen is an author, or that she is now daydreaming that her latest book, Empires of the Caribbean, will grab the interest of either HBO or Netflix and be made into a movie.

For sure, the ingredients are there: lust, hate, secrecy, blackmail, international intrigue, brutal violence, evil, romance, and love, against the background of lush green hills, majestic mountains, sun-kissed beaches and the hot, sultry Caribbean sun.

Empires of the Caribbean is essentially a love story between a comely Jamaican woman from a wealthy family and an ambitious Trinidadian businessman, their journey spanning Venezuela and Guyana, in a relentless quest to find their destiny.

Marguerite Lewars, now Gordon, did not suggest that the story bore any semblance to their own life experience, but the fact that the Jamaican married the Trinidadian businessman would not have been lost on the reader who could be forgiven for asking whether it was all an innocent coincidence.

Still, she told a newspaper interviewer that she hoped the book would show Jamaica in a more positive light, after all the crime and negative drama that constantly fill the foreign press.

“I got really tired of seeing and hearing Jamaica being associated only with dancehall and tin roofs,” she is quoted by the Trinidad Express newspaper as saying. “…But I do worry about the crime. And I think the solution lies in more than just locking people up. We need to fix the social fabric of our islands.”

Gordon touches some sensitive areas of Jamaican life, with a very risqué reference to a garrison community called “Rivoli Gardens” and its leader named “Simon Akkad”, clearly evoking the community of Tivoli Gardens.

Here, for example, is a giveaway extract: “Rivoli Gardens, what an area, a place that could fill one diametrically with despair and hope. This was one of the political garrisons or 'barrack' constituencies of West Kingston, now completely ruled by Simon Akkad of the Jamaica Labour Party.

“He (Simon Akkad) was the son of a wealthy Syrian family who, on graduating from an American university, had come back to Jamaica in 1961, eager to contribute to the country. Simon's father, George, had approached a prominent figure in local government for help.

“He asked him to find a position in which his creative and brilliant son could develop. The visionary town clerk had suggested an area of West Kingston that was causing a lot of trouble. Simon had joined the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and became a fiery politician.

“He started out doing excellent work, founding different schools that taught carpentry, welding, electrical installation and hairdressing. He knew the power he had over these disenchanted poor young men and women who had felt neglected for so many years.

“It is here they say that the gangs were born. Allegedly it is here that Simon Akkad introduced the gun to Jamaican politics and both political parties became intoxicated with the idea of gang affiliation. The PNP (People's National Party), however, did not become so deeply involved.”

The conventional story is that Edward Seaga went to West Kingston to pursue his cultural research, fell in love with the people and stayed to represent them, eventually rising to the highest office in the land as prime minister of Jamaica.

Gordon's story of her connection with James Bond and his nemesis Dr No, is itself worth mentioning. Shortly after her reign as Miss Jamaica 1961, the 22-year-old accepted the role as a Bond girl, photographer Annabel Chong, playing opposite Sean Connery, the best known actor to play James Bond, and Ursula Andress.

That came out of a chance meeting with Dr No director Terence Young that led to an offer for the part of henchwoman Miss Taro. But fretful that her parents or 1960s aristocrat Jamaican society would not approve of her playing a role in which she would be wrapped in a towel, lying on a bed and kissing a strange man, she turned it down.

That strange man, of course, was none other than Sir Thomas Sean Connery, the Hollywood heart throb from Scotland. Young then offered Gordon another role – the Afro-Asian freelance photographer and Dr No operative Chong.

The role was a minor one and her voice was not used in the movie, but she accepted and made movie history as a Jamaican. Late Jamaican actors Reggie Carter and Eric Coverley also appeared in Dr No.

Gordon, a human resource development consultant whose company was called MK Careers Trinidad Limited, is said to have conceptualised and pioneered the words “personal development” in Jamaica and took the concept to the Eastern Caribbean.

She is also the author of a children's book named Dancer: The Little Dog from Mayaro Beach, which sold in the Caribbean and the US. She then rewrote the book to be a three-act musical play with music by Roger Israel and lyrics by both of them.

Her second book is Manners and Entertaining, and the third Empires of the Caribbean, will shortly be available at all Cannonball Cafés in Jamaica.


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