Posted on December 3, 2012


In “Moonraker” when she hits the Drax space crew member, Bond asks his heroine CIA/NASA employee Dr Holly Goodhead:

”Where did you learn to fight like that? NASA?”
”No, Vassar,” she replies.

Vassar College is a well-known private, academic institution and liberal arts college in the United States, located in Poughkeepsie, New York. Formed as a women’s college in 1861, it was named after its founder the English-born American brewer and businessman Matthew Vassar (1792-1868). In 1969 Vassar became coeducational. The college has almost 2500 undergraduate students and its campus covers more than a 1000 acres.
College colours are rose and grey.

Funnily enough there is a Vassar website ”Vassar in the Media: Clips from film and television shows referencing Vassar College, from 1926-2012”, dealing with (as the subtitle says) references of the sorts like ”Moonraker”.
The author writes in its introduction:
”Shortly after graduating Vassar in 1995, I started to note how often Vassar was mentioned in film and television.  But unlike other oft-referenced, well-known schools such as Harvard or Yale, which are frequently used to denote a character as elite or intelligent, invoking Vassar tended to imply something more. As the best-known women’s college, the Vassar label was used to reflect a number of different things—wealth, intelligence, and good breeding, to be sure, but also beauty and sexual desirability. Attaching the Vassar label to a character was frequently a punchline—the easy joke was to attach the label to a man—but it could also stand for a woman’s sexuality, or even quite the opposite: a demure and virginal embodiment of elite womanhood.  Many jokes deal with gender roles, or with the idea of men ogling the beautiful women at Vassar. In later years, the label could also be used to peg someone as a radical feminist. And once depictions of homosexuality onscreen became more commonplace, we begin to see some gay characters (men and women) with Vassar backgrounds.   (And the overall frequency with which the college is mentioned increases heavily in the 80s and 90s, no doubt as some of Vassar’s graduates were beginning to occupy television writing staffs.)”

Vassar Alumni include astronomer Vera Rubin, actress Meryl Streep, actress Lisa Kudrow, spy Elizabeth Bentley and suffragist Inez Milholland.

Posted in: Moonraker