Angela Scoular

d. April 11, 2011

Angela Scoular, 65, British actress best known for her role as Ruby Bartlett in the 1969 James Bond picture “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” who also appeared in the 1967 Bond spoof “Casino Royale,” died April 11 in a London hospital. She apparently committed suicide by drinking a bottle of drain cleaner.

Scoular won her first television role in 1963 at the age of 18 and made her film debut in Charlie Chaplin’s poorly received final picture, “A Countess from Hong Kong” (1967). She turned up soon after with a brief part in “Casino Royale,” the lumbering send-up of Bond and the 1960s spy craze that was derived from the one Bond story not controlled by producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli. Scoular played “Buttercup” who was, in the screenplay’s demented version of Ian Fleming’s first novel, one of M’s eleven nubile daughters. Her only scene consisted of sharing a bubble bath with Sir James Bond, played by David Niven, at M’s castle in Scotland.

Her other films included “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” (1968) with Barry Evans, Judy Geeson and Denholm Elliott, “Great Catherine” (1968) with Peter O’Toole and Zero Mostel, “The Adventurers” (1969) with Candice Bergen and Ernest Borgnine, and “Doctor in Trouble” (1970), the last of the comic “Doctor” films, with Robert Morley, Harry Secombe and her future husband Leslie Phillips, who also appeared in many of the “Carry On” pictures.

British TV viewers saw her in Evans’ Doctor in the House series, the long-running evening soap Coronation Street, The Avengers (in the “Super Secret Cypher Snatch” episode), Gene Barry’s British-made series The Adventurer and the popular comedy series As Time Goes By (all except Coronation Street were also seen on American television at some point). She had a regular role as an aging, promiscuous aristocrat in the 1988-1993 BBC comedy You Rang, M’Lord?, a randy takeoff of Upstairs, Downstairs.

She also appeared on stage in a number of West End productions, including Peter Shaffer’s “The White Liars” with Ian McKellen, “Hamlet” with Alan Bates and “Little Liars” with John Mills.

Saltzman and Broccoli brought Scoular into the “official” Bond world in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” the sixth film in their series and widely considered to be one of the best — despite its initial box office failure, usually attributed to its being the first Bond film without Sean Connery in the starring role. George Lazenby made his first and only appearance as 007, and Scoular was one of 12 “Piz Gloria girls” brought to arch-villain Ernst Blofeld’s Alpine hideaway to serve as his unwitting carriers of germ-warfare toxins.

As English farm girl Ruby Bartlett, Scoular had the only substantial role of the 12 (two others who had some dialogue and who went on to some measure of fame and fortune were Joanna Lumley and Catherine Schell). Ruby fills Bond in on the workings of Blofeld’s “clinic” and becomes another of his bedmates after surreptitiously giving him her room number by writing it in lipstick on his inner thigh. One of the film’s big laughs came when Bond excuses himself from the dinner table because he feels “a slight stiffness coming on” as Ruby’s hand slides up under his kilt.

[British news sources reported that Scoular was beset by personal problems in recent years, despite her three-decade performing career that continued well into the 1990s, and her 29-year marriage to Phillips, which he described as always happy, marred only by her alcoholism. However. Phillips confirmed that she tried to kill herself in 1992 by slashing her wrists. She continued to drink heavily and had recently been arrested for drunken driving. She was treated for bowel cancer in 2008 and 2009, and lived in fear of the cancer returning, Phillips said. She also was on medication to treat depression and bipolar disorder.

[A July 20 coroner’s inquest heard testimony that on the day of her death Scoular found in her kitchen a bottle of liquid drain cleaner containing 91 percent sulfuric acid, swallowed a portion of the fluid, then ran out of the house where she poured the rest of the drain cleaner over her body. She then fell down the steps in front of the house, fracturing her spine in several places. Westminster coroner Dr. Fiona Wilcox found the cause of death was ingestion of a corrosive substance and multiple fractures. She ruled that Scoular’s death was not, in fact, a suicide, but that she killed herself “while the balance of her mind was disturbed.”]


George Lazenby as James Bond and Angela Scoular as Ruby in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

Angela Scoular in 1969’s “On Her

Majesty’s Secret Service” (top);

with husband Leslie Phillips in 2005

(above); with David Niven in 1967’s

“Casino Royale” (left).