So, the new CW series "Nikita"
launches tonight. Starring Jackie Chan–veteran, Hong Kong–sweetheart, and now butt-kicking spy Maggie Q, it got us thinking about the inevitable -- the real lives of real female spies.
We were always a liiiiiittle dubious of the concept for the spy series "Alias" -- Jennifer Garner was a grad student AND a CIA super-agent!? Nobody has that kind of time!
Well, maybe they do. Anna Chapman
, the cute Russian recently arrested on suspicion of espionage, had a master's in economics and ran a real estate business ... all during the time she was allegedly part of a hard-partying spy network. (And clearly she was also dedicating a good chunk of time to hitting the hair salon -- we know how red dye fades
And then just last week it was revealed that another Russian -- blond-haired, blue-eyed Marina Lee
-- was rumored to have played a crucial role as a Nazi spy during World War II. She spoke five languages and made off with British battle plans, which led to Norway falling to the Nazis. Her day job? Ballerina.
We did a little recon of our own, and it turns out Anna and Marina weren't the first gals to moonlight in a secret agency. (Apparently, it's sort of a low-commitment gig, time-wise?) Here's a list of a few other working women who were top ops when they weren't on the clock.
Author, chef, TV host
Before she was slathering chicken in butter or inspiring bored bloggers, this Lemondrop icon joined the Office of Strategic Services (the government agency that preceded the CIA) because she was too tall for the Women's Army Corps. After starting off as a typist, she was eventually responsible for cataloging and organizing documents for the OSS's Secret Intelligence division and received the Emblem of Meritorious Civilian Service for her help.Greta Garbo
While her contemporary Marlene Dietrich performed for American troops and denounced Nazism, famously private screen siren Garbo drew criticism for her seeming non-involvement in World War II. But, according to a book published by spymaster Sir William Stephenson in 1976, she actually aided the allies by identifying Nazi sympathizers in her home country of Sweden and even relayed messages for British agents.
Dancer, singer, actress
In addition to being a multinational triple threat who helped knock down color barriers on the stage and screen, La Baker eagerly volunteered to use her celebrity status to aid the allies and French resistance. As Europe's most famous cabaret act, she was able to travel frequently without suspicion, and used her mobility to help transport secret documents.
Known as the "Cleopatra of the Secession," this Confederate spy relied on the ancient art of listening outside of keyholes and getting people drunk to obtain the secrets of Union guests who stayed at her hotel. After being arrested, imprisoned and released multiple times, she fled to England and became an actress and, like any good former scandal player, ultimately returned to the U.S. and made a living off of speaking engagements on her life as a spy.
With equally killer sets of language skills and eyebrows, Karin used her considerable charm to work as a translator and to land roles in both film and various resistance groups during World War II. She also shacked up for a time with Ingmar Bergman, perhaps inspiring the female lead in "Woman Without a Face
Margaretha Geertruida "Mata Hari" Zelle
After leaving her Dutch army officer husband while stationed in Java, Indonesia, Margaretha made like any good divorcee: She took some dance classes, changed her name and moved to Paris to become an exotic dancer. Born in the neutral Netherlands, she was able to move freely between countries during World War I and was the alleged courtesan of officers and officials of various allegiances. It's not exactly clear for which countries she was really an agent (if any), but French officials arrested her on suspicion of spying for Germany, and she was consequently executed by firing squad in 1917.