The Real Adventures of Nikki van der Zyl

Nikki van der Zyl

Nikki van der Zyl

A girl’s escape to a new country, leading to successful careers in Hollywood, art, and law may sound like something out of a movie. That is appropriate for a museum exhibition about the real life adventures of a Bond Girl. Night Flight To Berlin, now at the Pankow Museum in Berlin, tells the story of Nikki van der Zyl and her family. Nikki van der Zyl, also known as Monica van der Zyl, is a German voice actress most famous for providing the voice of Ursula Andress‘ character in the movie Dr. No.

Van der Zyl was born on April 27, 1935 in Berlin, Germany. In 1939, the political situation in Germany forced her parents and their young daughter to flee to London. According to Nikki, “the exhibition shows how we had to uproot ourselves during the Nazi era and how we succeeded in contributing to the Jewish community in the UK.”

Her father, Dr. Werner van der Zyl, was a Rabbi and a prominent figure in Reform Judaism. He was the founder and first director of Jewish Theological College of London, later renamed Leo Baeck College. He was also the President of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain the and Life Vice President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

In the UK, van der Zyl trained as an actress and appeared in plays before providing re-voicing work for many other classic Bond films, including From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds are Forever. She also did voice work for Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. You can find a full list of her credits on IMDb. Van der Zyl went on to study law and work as an assistant to former MP David Mellor. Today she stays active working as an artist, poet, and public speaker.

-Emily Holm
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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