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The tipster

Striking beauty bonded with Greig over cats

By Shelley Murphy
Globe Staff / October 9, 2011
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REYKJAVIK, Iceland - In the end, it wasn’t a dogged agent, a bounty hunter, or even a police officer making a routine traffic stop who spotted fugitive gangster James “Whitey” Bulger.

It was the flirty blonde from an old shaving cream commercial, an actress who once pleaded in a B-movie role, “I beg you, let me lead you to him.”

It is a line that sounds strangely prophetic, today.

Anna Bjornsdottir, who was crowned as Miss Iceland in 1974, called the FBI from her native Iceland on June 21, to report that the fugitive gangster and his girlfriend could be found in California, 4,300 miles away. The couple, she said, used to live near her in Santa Monica.

Media reports that the FBI’s tip came from Iceland spurred widespread speculation and questions about whether the tipster was real. But Bjornsdottir, now a 57-year-old graphic designer and yoga instructor, is quite real.

She ran inside her modest apartment building overlooking the Atlantic Ocean when approached by a Globe reporter in July and again last month. Her husband, businessman Halldor Gudmundsson, wrote in an e-mail that she values her privacy.

Bjornsdottir moved to the Los Angeles area in the late 1970s with her first husband, rock star Jakob Magnusson, and built a successful career as a model and actress using the name Anna Bjorn.

She also starred in movies such as “More American Graffiti” and “The Sword and the Sorcerer,” and television shows, including “Remington Steele” and “Fantasy Island.”

For the last 10 years, she and Gudmundsson have divided their time between Iceland and Santa Monica, where they stayed for months at a time in the same neighborhood as Bulger and Catherine Greig.

Neighbors say it was Greig’s devotion to an abandoned cat that caught the attention of Bjornsdottir, herself a cat lover.

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