LOS ANGELES -- When Ursula Andress emerged from the sea, curves glistening, with a dagger strapped to her bikini in 1962's "Dr. No," she made the Bond girl an instant icon.

Always glamorous and sophisticated, yet uniquely susceptible to James Bond's flirtations, the Bond girl over the years has become as compelling as Agent 007 himself – and not just for the way she fills out a swimsuit.

"Initially, Bond girls were part of the aesthetic of the series. They had more transient roles," said Karen Tongson, a professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. "Especially in the last 15 to 20 years, there's been a marked shift in their greater involvement in the action of the story line and also the motivation for Bond, especially Daniel Craig's Bond."

The greatest change in women's position in the Bond saga, Tongson notes, is that the agent's boss, M, is a woman.

"The sense that the higher power that Bond responds to is this dignified woman played by Dame Judi Dench suggests that the relationships he has with these other (female) figures are not just fleeting casual sexual trysts, but far more complex," she said.

Who qualifies as a Bond girl has also changed over the years, as the blue-eyed, buxom blonde has given way to more diverse leading ladies, including Michelle Yeoh ("Tomorrow Never Dies") and Halle Berry ("Die Another Day"). Modern Bond girls also present a more formidable challenge to the suave secret agent.

"They reflect some of the shifts in the post-feminist perspective: Women who use their presentation and their wiles to outsmart Bond," Tongson said.

One thing that hasn't changed? Whatever their role, Bond girls still must be inarguably beautiful, as this photo gallery illustrates.

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  • 'Dr. No' (1962)

    Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder

  • 'From Russia With Love' (1963)

    Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova

  • 'Goldfinger' (1964)

    Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore.

  • 'Goldfinger' (1964)

    Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson

  • 'Thunderball' (1965)

    Claudine Auger as Domino

  • 'Thunderball' (1965)

    Molly Peters as Patricia

  • 'You Only Live Twice' (1967)

    Karin Dor as Helga Brandt

  • 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' (1969)

    Dianna Rigg as Tracy

  • 'Diamonds Are Forever' (1971)

    Jill St. John as Tiffany Case

  • 'Live And Let Die' (1973)

    Jane Seymour as Solitaire

  • 'The Man With The Golden Gun' (1974)

    Maud Adams, left, as Andrea and Britt Ekland, right, as Goodnight

  • 'The Spy Who Loved Me' (1977)

    Barbara Bach as Major Anya Amasova (a.k.a. Agent XXX)

  • 'Moonraker' (1979)

    Lois Chiles as Dr. Holly Goodhead

  • 'For Your Eyes Only' (1981)

    Carole Bouquet as Melena Havelock

  • 'Octopussy' (1983)

    Maud Adams, again, this time as Octopussy.

  • 'A View To A Kill' (1985)

    Tanya Roberts, left, as Stacy Sutton, and Grace Jones, right, as May Day

  • 'The Living Daylights' (1987)

    Maryam D'Abo as Kara Milovy

  • 'Licence To Kill' (1989)

    Talisa Soto as Lupe Lamora, left, and Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvierin, right.

  • 'Goldeneye' (1995)

    Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova and Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp.

  • 'Tomorrow Never Dies' (1997)

    Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin

  • 'The World Is Not Enough' (1999)

    Sophie Marceau as Elektra King

  • 'The World Is Not Enough' (1999)

    Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones.

  • 'Die Another Day' (2002)

    Halle Berry as Jinx Johnson.

  • 'Casino Royale' (2006)

    Eva Green as Vesper Lynd.

  • 'Quantum Of Solace' (2009)

    Olga Kurylenko as Camille and Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields.

  • 'Skyfall' (2012)

    Naomie Harris as Eve.

  • 'Skyfall' (2012)

    Berenice Marlohe as Sévérine.

  • 'Casino Royale,' 'Quantum Of Solace' & 'Skyfall'

    Judi Dench as M, the head of MI6.