Famed U.S. sportswriter Jimmy Cannon found his work making its way into an Ian Fleming James Bond novel. In Diamonds are Forever, as Bond and Felix Leiter are making their way to Saratoga, Leiter is explaining to Bond about some of the horse-racing history of the town, and pulls out a Jimmy Cannon column to give Bond more background.
“You ought to know about it yourself,” said Leiter. “Used to be a great place for the English-the belted ones, that is. The Jersey Lily used to be around there a lot, your Lily Langtry. About the time Novelty beat Iron Mask in the Hopeful Stakes. But it’s changed a bit since the Mauve Decade. Here,” he pulled a cutting out of his pocket. “This’ll bring you up to date. Cut it out of the Post this morning. This Jimmy Cannon is their sports columnist. Good writer. Knows what he’s talking about. Read it in the car. We ought to be moving.”
Leiter left some money on the check and they went out and, while the Studillac throbbed along the winding road towards Troy, Bond settled himself down with Jimmy Cannon’s tough prose. As he read, the Saratoga of the Jersey Lily’s day vanished into the dusty, sweet past and the twentieth century looked out at him from the piece of newsprint and bared its teeth in a sneer.
Lily Langtry, or Jersey Lily, was a “semi-official” mistress of the future Edward VII. For a time, she was involved very much in thoroughbred racing. The Mauve Decade is a reference to the 1890‘s.
Of Jimmy Cannon, Sports Illustrated wrote “there can be no question that he ranks with Ring Lardner and Red Smith among writers who changed the face of the sports page.” Cannon was pure New York, pure Manhattan, he lived, worked and died there, spending most of his time in one of three spots – a baseball stadium, a boxing arena or a bar. He wrote for the New York Post and the New York Daily News among other publications. Very much a Fleming type of guy.
The column that Fleming has Bond reading in this passage is an actual Jimmy Cannon column, from 1954.