For Her Thighs Only: Three Models Claim the 007 Leg-Acy

updated 07/20/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/20/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

No woman would mind having legs like those that dominate the sensational—and, some charge, salacious—ads for the current James Bond flick, For Your Eyes Only. But whose are they really? Hardly had the graffiti on the movie posters dried before New York model Nancy Stafford happily confessed to columnist Earl Wilson that she'd posed for the ad. But next came English model Jane Sumner, who swears the gams are hers—"I know my own legs," she sniffs. Not so, answers another model, Joyce Bartle: "I've been looking at my legs since I was 4 years old, and I can tell they're mine."

The only thing everyone can agree on, in fact, is that the legs in question definitely do not belong to Roger Moore's co-star, Carole Bouquet. But even the film's producers were stunned when three different models stepped forward to say they were the proud owners of the most talked-about underpinnings since Marilyn Monroe stepped on that subway grating in The Seven Year Itch.

First to take the credit was Nancy Stafford, 25, a 5'9" ("5'8" of that is legs") former Miss Florida and pricey TV model (English Leather, Lincoln-Mercury) who is appearing this week on the ABC soap One Life to Live. She was also the first to pose for Morgan Kane, the photographer hired to shoot the ad for United Artists. "I arrived on the set with my own bathing suit," recalls Stafford of that day last October, "and they handed me a crossbow and some silver shoes. The funny thing is," she admits, "I've always had a battle with skinny legs and worked real hard at building them up. But I guess it turned out okay—although I'm certain they did some retouching."

United Artists also thought the legs belonged to Stafford, and it was her name the studio gave the press when promotion on the film began. But what UA didn't know was that Kane had merely used Nancy for what he calls "a rough ad. But once the concept was approved," he says, "we went to London to reshoot"—this time with another lissome blonde, British model Jane Sumner, 24. As proof they are her legs, Sumner points to the rings worn on the hand shown clutching the crossbow (page 26)—a plain gold band and another with three diamonds. These belong to her. "She has good reason to believe that," admits Kane. "That's her arm and her hand, that's all. Jane had very nice legs," he allows, "but we decided they were too heavy. Because Jane had the right crossbow—one with a scope on it—we attached her arm to the final version."

For that third—and last—try, Kane chose Joyce Bartle, 22. Born in New York and raised in California, Bartle is a divorcée and a licensed cosmetologist. She returned to Manhattan two years ago to further her modeling career. Although she has already done plenty of leg work, including ads for Givenchy stockings, Bartle has also shown her face in campaigns for Caress soap and Revlon's Scoundrel perfume.

Bartle had never heard of Jane Sumner and only found out about Nancy Stafford after reading Wilson's column. Did Joyce ever doubt those were her legs in the ad? "I know the contours of my legs," she says. "They didn't retouch a thing." Kane backs her up. "I have the shoes and the bathing suit," he says. "In fact, when Joyce put on that suit it came down too low so we asked her to put it on backwards. They're Joyce's legs."

Although the mystery is solved, the whole ordeal has left Stafford "disappointed and confused," while Sumner remains unconvinced. "I just wish," she sighs, "the ad had my face in it." As for Bartle, she concedes that "the mix-up has been very good publicity."

There are those, however, who think the model's derriere—not her identity—is the seat of the problem. TV spots show the ad cropped at mid-thigh, while more than 100 newspapers across the country—including the LA. Times and the Cleveland Plain Dealer—axe also running altered versions, some penciling in shorts to cover up Bartle's bottom. None of which bothers the movie's publicist, Jerry Juroe. "As long as the ad looks good," he shrugs, "it doesn't matter to us whose legs they are."

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