(Clic to enlarge)  

* Sean was gone… And here are the last five in the hunt to… Find A New 007 for OHMSS. Hans De Vries, Robert Campbell, Anthony Rogers, John Richardson (inset) and the winner… George Lazenby

[Photos: © Eon Productions, 1968]




“We have all the time in the world.”



 Peter Hunt . 1968


Having turned down Thunderball, this was the only other Bond that Guy Hamilton fancied. “Back then it was scheduled with Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot. Bond gets married, he’s got a beautiful Goddess and they’d be a great couple. Unfortunately the picture didn’t work out the way they wanted it to be.”

Yeah, right…

This was the thriller that Ian Fleming was yarning at Goldeneye when the entire Bondwagon started its incredible roll next door in January 1962… Perhaps that is why he “never made so many mistakes in a book in my life as OHMSS – really ghastly.” The film, however, was something else. “Shot to shot, this movie is beautiful in a way none of the other Bond films are,” said an envious  director  Steven Soderbergh,  at the time.

His neighbour, Noel Coward, pointed out some of the Chemin de Fer errors (“Bond couldn’t possibly have lost to a One with a Buche of two Kings”) but adored the book. “Much more characterisation than usual… the action parts… do not go too far and are terrifically exciting without straining the credibility to excess… really brilliantly constructed,” he wrote as if composing a blurb for the dover.

Fleming had nearly called it The Belles of Hell, rather too close to The Bells of Hell Go Ting-a-ling-a-ling by his pal and future Bond scripter Roald Dahl. (The filming of that book, with Gregory Peck, was canceled due to lack of Swiss snow!)

What should have been Connery’s first, second, fourth or fifth outing was postponed due to impossible deadlines regarding Swiss spring snows. Connery made You Only Live Twice instead and once Broccoli got his OHMSS act together, he’d lost Sean. And BB…. They were together in Spain displaying remarkably little chemistry between them in the appalling Shalako Western – with Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), as well.

As Connery refused $1m to come  back,  BB walked.  Bond got another new director,  the  series’  editor Peter Hunt – and Roger Moore was set as 007 until shooting clashed with  his Persuaders TV schedule. And so a new search began for – what else – “a young Connery.”   

And he would have two vital lines. “I hope I can live up to your high standards” and, directly  to camera, “This never happened to the other fellow.”

007 .  Although more of a young Moore, Ian Ogilivy was approached. (He became Roger’s Saint successor in 1978).   He was among, allegedly, some 413 actors seen, interviewed, auditioned and/or tested to succeed Sean including the British TV hero Patrick Mower,  kids’ show host Peter Purves (he failed and “my agent dumped me”), Canadian Daniel Pilon (too young at 27), ITN news  anchor, Peter Snow (“too tall – at  6ft 5ins – we’d have to put the girls on soapboxes”), the German-born American  Eric  Braeden  – Cubby thought he was a Brit ; he’d make his name instead as Victor Newman in more than 3,000 episodes of the eternal soap, The Young and the Restles, during 1980-2019.

Broccoli was surprisingly keen on Jeremy Brett, after My Fair Lady, 1964,  and he’d be seen again for Live And Let Die.  The rather fey Brett later  became the ultimate TV Sherlock Holmes, 1984-1994. Ironically, Ian Fleming’s  own pencil  sketch of Bond greatly resembled Holmes – featuring not only the famous comma of  black hair, but  a receeding hairline).

“Oliver Reed was very near the top of that list,” Cubby Broccoli revealed after seeing him as the supremely Bondian head of The Assassination Bureau and matching the 00-credo of eradicating only those who deserved death. As we shall see, this film is also where Broccoli found the latest  Blofeld and the only  Mrs Bond – Diana Rigg, also from Reed’s Bureau.

An ex-Hammer Films werewolf (he  once asked me if he should move to France, “where they like ugly men – look at Belmondo!”), Olly became the sole British star created by producer-director Michael Winner.  For all  his testosterone (Hammer called him satanic), even at 30  Reed had too many problems:  drinking, brawling, weight  and all the rest. Broccoli said they did not have the time or money “to destroy his image  and re-mould  him” as Bond.

And then there was John Bingham. Or more officially known as the seventh Earl of Lucan.  He was handsome (well, the moustache wouild have to go), an ex-Coldstream Guards officer, a banker turned gambler (!), a playboy, and often seen as a  real Bond type  by Cubby  when visiting the same elite gaming tables  of London. “He had it all,” he  told the Sydney Morning Herald in 1980. “The looks, the breeding, the pride. I seriously wanted to test him for Bond, but all he’d say was: Good heavens!”   Lord Lucan completely disappeared on November 7, 1974 –   the same night as his children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett, was found bludgened to death in the Lucan family home.  A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was named as the woman’s murderer at her inquest. There followed  as many sightings of the missing peer as of Elvis. The speculation was that he had killed himself or protectiopn from  by high society friends.  Lucan was never seen again from that  dark day to this.  He  was declared legally dead in October 1999, his death certificate being issued in 2016.


Also seen: Michael Billington.

Soon enough, he was

something of a Eon house pet.


He was a good, old-fashioned British ”jobbing actor.” We shall be mentioning him again – and again – indeed five more times, his six 007 considerations (from OHMSS to Octopussy), being a record in the Eon history books. 

Two telly-Americans were rumoured – Cubby’s pal, Adam Batman West, bordering on the plump,  and Roy Thinnes from The Invaders, bordering on  the boring. And a third backed  away from the role – Tom  Selleck. “I  was asked to screentest but I turned it down. Not because I had another job – I was perennially out of work. I’m sure that being between Roger and Sean [huh?] would not be a good  career move.”  Anyway, West said Bond required  true Brit.

Selleck  thought his Magnum was taking over from where Connery left off as 007 (he did, honest!).  Her also lost   Indiana Jones  but later replaced Moore in High Road To China, 1983. 

Truth is only Adam West (and no one else) ever said that Cubby Broccoli offered  him Bond  – while on a London  promo visit in 1968. It hardly seems likely… Then again, West sidelined as a Bondish Captain Q guy for Nestle’s Quik commercials similar to Lazenby’s action  ads for Big Fry chocolate… West,  as Daily Mirror journalist Donald Zec was to say about Lazenby, would have been “as much a substitute for Bond as Mick Jagger is for Moses.”  Anyway, West said only a true Brit could be Bond. 

And then entered – and not for the last time – a handsome New Zealand schoolteacher turned actor David Warbeck  – already a legendary UK hero in  Hammer’s Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood at the time.  “All that froth going on. They were seeing everybody. I went along just to meet the director and sort of argued with them that I was quite wrong… But  when I heard the blokes that were going for it [laugh] I thought, well, why not me?  No,  I  was still still too young.” 

So, or so he said, was Timothy Dalton. “When Sean Connerty gave up the role. I guess I, alongside quite a few other actors, was approached about the possibility of playing the part. That was for OHMSS. I was very flattered, but I think anybody would have been off their head to have taken over from Connery. I was also too young. Bond should be a man in his mid-30s, at least – a mature adult who has been around.”


In desperation, Cubby even offered

our hero to Dick Van Dyke!!! 


“That really happened,”  he insisted when appearing  on Kevin Pollak”s TV Chat Show. 2001 autobiog, Dick Van Dyke: My Lucky Life In and Out Of Show Business, “I was doing Chitty [Chitty Bang Bang  in London for Broccoli) in 1967., “Sean Connery had spoken about leaving the Bond pictures. He had done several at the time. Cubby Broccoli actually pulled me in and asked me if I wanted to do Bond…”

All very odd as (a) Van Dyke was American (b) a comedy star and (c), the two men had zero rapport.

Not to mention his lousy English accent ((and worse Cockney  in Mary Poppins). “Oh, that’s right,” said Cubby.  “Forget it!”

Finally on October 7,  George  Lazenby, was unveiled to the waiting media as the youngest Bond.  An Australian part-time model and car salesman. Lazenby had first been noticed, three years earlier, at Broccoli’s (and Connery’s) favourite barber in Mayfair – exactly as planned by the Aussie. The producer checked up on the “handsome character,” just as Lazenby had made sure of Broccoli’s  next appointment. Having shone in his screen-test fights (he’d studied martial arts with Bruce Lee), the model  known for his  Big Fry chocolate  commercials, was ill-chosen from the last five:  Robert Campbell, Anthony Rogers (from Camelot) – and  Hans De Vries, who had a bit in You Only Live Twice andimmediately joined the 007 dream team of Connery and Bardot in  Shalako.  (Their  chemistry proved  non-existant). 

Oh, and the handsome John Richardson, husband of that first double Bond girl, Martine Beswick – and who had previously lost out on being the female Bond’s side-arm, Willie Garvin, in Modesty Blaise, 1966.


There had been

and even wilder card

–  Clint Eastwood!


When the story first appeared in 2010, it had all the authenticity of British tabloid flotsam, something made up to help fill a column and match a wannabe headline.  However, by September  that year, Clint confirmed all in a Los Angeles Times interview marking his 80th birthday.

After rejecting Warners’ invite to be Superman, “I was also offered pretty good money to do James Bond if I would take on the role. This was after Sean Connery left. My lawyer represented the Broccolis and he came and said: ‘They would love to have you.’” Clint squinted:  “But that’s Sean’s deal.  “It didn’t feel right for me to be doing it. I thought James Bond should be British. I’m of British descent but by that same token, I thought that it should be more of the culture there and also… it was not my thing.”  Nor, as things turned out, Lazenby’s.  His acting, The New York Post decided  was “noncommittal to the point of being minus.”


It remains inconceivable that two producers

who chose as correctly as Connery made

such a cock-up as Lazenby.


“I’m told that mine was the biggest screen test in history,” Lazenby said. “I think there were 800 applicants and 300 screen tests. They tested me for four months. They tested me every which way – fights, horseback riding, swimming.”

The Aussie model was presented to the media on October 7 and 13, 1968 at the Dorchester, just around  the corner from the Eon offices. Very soon, the non-actor was behaving as he  thought a star should. Bad-mouthing partners. Boasting about the broads and the bread. “Hot-headed, greedy and big-headed,” as he put it.

According to a Q/A session with Bond historian Steven Jay Rubin at the American Cinematheque  in June 2011, Broccoli first saw Lazenby when he was having  his hair cut by Sean Conery’s (and Cubby’s) barber. “I said: Cut my hair like Sean Connery’s. And after, as  I was walking out,  Cubby apparently said to Curt the Barber: That guy he would make a good Bond.” Lazenby went to the first interview with long sideburns and French coat. And they wouldn’t let him in. “So, I took note of how everyone was dressed and I went away and got … the bits and pieces, thinking that it’s just a matter of time before they pick me. So, they picked this flitty guy from Australia. I still don’t why. I walked like a drunken bum from Australia, Peter Hunt told me. And they took the swagger out of me and made me walk like Prince Philip. And I had voice training…”

Hunt said they had more film on him testing than they had for the entire film. “We were off going testing for four months, because they said we’re not going to have a clothes peg [a male model] for James Bond. Harry Saltzman said: They’re all gay, all these male models.”  So Lazenby’s sexuality was tested. “I was in this holding cell – a nice apartment. John Daly  [a UK film producer] came around one night with a girl – a hooker  – a to check me out to see if I was gay. That was a good night. [Laugh]. And so, you’ve got no idea what I went through, but at the end of the day it wasn’t that tough.

“Peter Hunt wanted to prove himself right, which he did. He was an amazing character. I mean he got his own way most of the time. If he hadn’t been on my side, I wouldn’t have had a shot. I had a little falling out on the first day of filming and he never spoke to me the whole nine months. It’s true. Didn’t bother me ’cos I’d never been an actor so I didn’t know who the director was from the cameraman. Every take I did was one take. But we did it from different angles so I got more than one go at it sometimes. But Peter Hunt  was tough. I won’t tell you how we fell out, but it was just my big mouth.”

Hunt explained to journalist Steven Ray Rubin that   his hands-off approach was deliberate. “I wanted that feeling of isolation. That is Bond. He’s a loner. George wasn’t experienced enough to interpret this feeling of utter emptiness.”

As soon as he became Bond, his 1965 screen debut as British Spy in Spain’s Marc Mato, agent S.077/Espionage in  Tangiers, suddenly  disappeared – 32 minutes of the film  were cut.  Lazenby’s minutes.

When masquerading as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray, the new Bond  even had to be  dubbed –  by George Baker. He   was rewarded with an on-screen role in The Spy Who Loved Me  – and, therefore, apparently forgiven, for playing   “Bondus,  Jamus Bondus” in  a TV episode of the BBC’s ancient Rome farce, Up Pompeii, 1970.  (Ironically, in the 13th of his 136 screen roles, Baker had the title role in … The Moonraker, 1957, less about outer space than the 17th Century UK  Civil War).  

“At the time, I thought I did a good job,” Lazenby  has said. “Now I know I could do it better…Cubby Broccoli will tell you that I was a failure and difficult to work with. Unfortunately, he told a lot of people that and it meant that it was impossible to get employment. But I didn’t want to become an actor. It was not in my blood.”

What Cubby actually said was this: “You’re only a star when the public says so.”  And, even after a further 59 roles in 34 years, the public  never said that about George Lazenby.

Blofeld .  In his 1966 script, Richard Maibaum suggested Gert Frobe coming back as  Blofeld, aka  Goldfinger’s brother or half-brother. (The same notion was also run up the flagpole for Diamonds Are Forever). Then, two years later, the Mr Nasty was a case of “Let’s hope he looks like Max Von Sydow” (Someone remembered and 15 years later, Max was Blofeld for Connery’s finale,  Never Say Never). Opening nine months before OHMSS, The Assassination Bureau  supplied Telly Savalas  for Ernst Stavro… plus Curd Jurgens  as the 1976 baddy of The Spy Who Loved Me… and

Tracy, Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo .   Fleming described Bond’s first and only (short lived) wife, Tracy,  as  blonde.  And  Italian. Broccoli agreed with Guy Hamilton’s obvious choice: Brigitte Bardot. Next, Catherine Deneuve, who had lately inherited  three BB cast-offs (films, not men), wanted to make up for her being sacked from Mario Bava’s Italian thriller Danger: Diabolik (lucky her!) by joining the Bond Club.  She offered to cut her usual $400,000 to $250,000. Cubby said he was flattered but he’d never  paid a Bond star actress more than $80,000. “I’d rather take the extra $170,000 and out it up on the screen somewhere.” (Isn’t that where Deneuve would have gone?)

What should have been Connery’s first, second, fourth or fifth outing was postponed due to impossible deadlines regarding Swiss spring snows. Connery made You Only Live Twice instead and once Broccoli got his OHMSS act  together,  he’d lost Sean. And BB…. They were together in Spain displaying  remarkably  little chemistry between them in the empty Shalako Western – with Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman),  as well. 

Various other blondes were seen, some even ogled over… Swedish model Agneta Eckemyr (who eventually made a dozen movies, including Disney’s Island At Tthe Top of the World), the French France Anglade and Marie-France Boyer. from Clémentine Chérie and Le Bonheur. And two British brunettes: Jacqueline Bisset, who late became Giovanna Goodthighs in the “comedy” version of Casino Royale, 1976… and Diana  Rigg – who also impressed Broccoli as the journalist investigating Olly Reed’s Assassination Bureau.  Rigg became the second  ex-Avenger in  Bondland after Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore although  the now Dame Diana never understood why she’d been  chosen

“They wanted an experienced lady with a certain degree of glamour to help  along a totally  inexperienced  actor.  Fine.  It was much like being a coach.   And  it was  well-paid. £50,000. Can’t complain.”  And she didn’t until Lazenby began slagging her off… among many reasons why Broccoli did not  want him  around  for  the next one. Diamonds Are Forever.

Che Che . The scenarist also mentioned Primo Carnera, Italy’s Ambling Ape,  world heavyweight champ in  both boxing and wrestling, as Che Che. He made 18 films, 1933-59, last being Hercules Unchained, as a giant (what else?)   towering above Steve Reeves in 1958. Irvin Allen, who played Che Che – and would also turn up among  the crew of Stromberg One in The Spy Who Loved Me –  is not to be mistaken for Broccoli’s old Warwick Films partner, Irving Allen! 

Broccoli and Hunt took note of the Maibaum thoughts – and rejected them all. (Cubby also refused the writer’s notion  of bringing Frobe  back –  as Goldfinger’s brother this time  –   in the next movie, Diamonds Are Forever).

Irma Blunt .  Harry Saltzman was keen on Greek star Itrene Papas but Peter Hunt felt was she too darned nice to be Blofeld’s henchwoman.   Enter the German Ilse – due back for pre-credit vengeance  in Diamonds Are Forever, but she died on  December 22, 1969.

Nancy  .   During some ten treatments and drafts, 1964-68, Maibaum alsosuggested the gorgeous American singer-actress Lola Falana  as 007’s second target at Piz Gloria but Hunt fell for the Budapest-born Catherine Von Schell.  (From hereon, she dropped the Von from her credits. Her real name is  Katherina Freiin Schell von Bauschlott). Maibaum had a good eye: Lola was Sammy Davis’  Broadway co-star in the 60s’  Golden Boy  anda year  after her 007-rejection, the legendary Hollywood director,  William Wyler,  later picked her  for his 71st and final film,  The Liberation of LB Jones, 1969. The Bond team must have seen it because that is where they found the  Live and Let Die villain: Yaphet Kotto).

Kleff  .   Who he? He worked with was 007’s future father-in-law, Marc Ange Draco (played by Gabriele Ferzetti, dubbed by David de Keyser). Takis Emannuel won the job and then tried to ape the new Bond by refusing to rehearse… Fight choreographer George Leech complained to Hunt and requested the Greek actor be dropped and swopped for a genuine stuntman…. like trampoline specialist Bill Morgan.  As per usual in such circumstances, some Emmanuel footage remained in the film (the wedding scenes had been shot before the beach battle). Neither man was credited.

Lazenby  is said by The Economist, no less, to have had more women in one  film than Conney and Moore. Hardly true.   OK, there were more girls in the film, but not all were bedpost notches. In just the one outing, Lazenby did, apparently,  killed more foes  than Dalton in two. (Well, he nearly bored me to death).

f saJust before the 1969 UK premiere, Lazenby shot himself in the foot. On  Noveonti-Geoprgie of anti-George tales. How, for one swollen headed  example, he threatened not to turn up for some vital re-shoots back in June. “Try,” snapped Saltzman, “I’ll finish the film  with doubles.


“If you got hit by a truck tomorrow,

I wouldn’t be happy about it…  but

I wouldn’t be out of business, either.”


“Poor old George Lazenby,” commented Skyfall director Sam Mendes in a Deadline Hollywood interview with Mike Fleming Jr some 47 years later… “They gave this poor guy a poison chalice. He had to turn to the camera…well, they asked him to turn to the camera, look into it and say, ‘This wouldn’t have happened to the other guy.’ To me, that was a complete misjudgment on the behalf of the filmmakers. Disaster. He looked into the camera and talked about another actor, playing the role. What chance could he possibly have, from that moment on, after basically apologising for being himself? Talk about cutting someone off at the knees before they’ve even started. That was not a good idea.”

Mike Fleming obviously asked how Daniel Craig might have responded to being told to say the Lazenby line.  Mendes obviously replied: “It would have been a two-word answer.  With a big smile.” 

Cubby’s credo was simple. “You gotta be a gent.”  And for him Lazenby, was not. So bye-bye.  (Idem for Kevin McClory). 

Scenarist Tom Mankiewicz said Diana Rigg was the best actress in a Bond film (this was before Judi Dench, of course) and related this story in his 2012 memoir, My Life As A Mankiewicz. Diana, he said, hated Lazenby.  Worth reason. Preparing for her last shot for the film, she asked for confirmation. “This is my last take?” “Yes, the last take on the picture.”   


She did her last take, turned around,

spat at George Lazenby and walked off the set!”