The ultimate Bond was always the ultimate movie star – best man at Cubby Broccoli’s wedding. Cary Grant! He had embodied the perfect secret agent in Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious, 1946, “He had the style, the sophistication,” said Cubby. “He also happened to be a Bond aficionado.” However, he was not interested in the idea of sequels. So that was zat!
[courtesy Daniel Bouteiller/Telé Ciné Documentation]
BOND. JAMES BOND.
A kinescope recording of the first Casino Royale with the first screen Bond finally emerged as an extra on the MGM DVD of the second Casino Royale . It had been mentioned in most articles, books and analysis of the Bond phenomenon so, naturally, the CBS relic was both fascinating and disappointing. No charm. No suspense. No sense. Merely… quaint.
1954 Looking more like a New York flic, a crew-cut San Francisco actor called Barry Nelson was the first Bond – “Jimmy Bond”! – in the live one-hour version of Casino Royale(renamed Too Hot To Handle) on the American CBS netwwrk on October 21, 1954. Therefore, the firstBond Girl was not 1962’s Ursula Andress but Tyrone Power’s Dutch-Mexican wife, Linda Christian, as Valerie Mathis. Peter Lorre was an adequate villain, Le Chiffre.
Paradoxically, Michael Pate as Clarence Leiter, no less, was really Bond – a British Secret Service agent… in a far better tuxedo and bow-tie than US agent Jimmy’s clobber. Hiding his Aussie accent, Pate was trapped in the laundry list scenes as Nelson played Bond with all the allure of a deer trapped in the headlights
Aged 89, Nelson died, appropriately enough, in 2007.
Hollywoodians had no idea what they had. Nor it seemed did Ian Fleming. Even after the notorious (but not Notorious) CBS emasculation of Casino Royale. He said “there are plenty of bullets left in Bond’s gun” and tried to set up not one, but two TV series. He went to NBC with the Bond-inspired spy show called, Commander Jamaica, and then back to CBS, touting a more explicitly Bond idea. Neither notion even reached the pilot stage. Meanwhile, the author had sold the book’s rights to the Russian-born “actor”-“director” Gregory Ratoff – who would have made a wonderfully hammy Auric Goldfinger – and they fell into his agent’s grasp, hence the flying awful circus his agent-turned-producer Charles K Feldman made of it in the swinging London of 1966.
To be honest, Britain’s film-makers were no wiser than Hollywood or Fleming… The UK’s greatest action export was turned down by Alexander Korda (a top producer who should have known better) and the Rank Organisation (which never knew anything). Korda loved Live and Let Die but was more interested in the new writer than than his hero…
Korda wrote to Fleming: “Your book is one of the most exciting I have ever read, I really could not put it down Would you be interested in writing for the cinema? I feel that the best stories for films are always the stories that are written specially for films.”
At Pinewood studios, Rank’s top producer Betty Box confessed to me in the 60s how she was introduced to 007 by journalist Nancy Spain. “She kept praising Casino Royale which, she said, should be filmed. I agreed it was splendid, though not quite in my sphere. Nancy kept on and on about it… even when the next two books came out. I still said: No.” She then laughed… but not as if she meant it.
1955 Something of a a rough hewn Dick Powell Mk II, with a wide chest, a Cary Grant chin cleft and, often enough, the necessary comma of black hair, John Payne was preparing his retirement at 43. Already rich from real estate deals and his cut of the 1946 Christmas classic, Miracle on 34th Street, which he’d pushed Fox into making, with much of his money (hence the starring role!). Now he saw Bond as an additional pension plan.
The musical turned action star was the first Hollywoodian to show any interest in 007 – and not for one film, but a full series. He bought the Moonraker rights, paying a monthly $1,000 option for nine months. He only quit further negotiations when finding he could not secure all the books. And that Rank had shelled out £5,000 for the Moonraker rights – if only to block Hollywood. The Rank (indeed!) Bond would have been Dirk Bogarde. Owch!
Not that Payne would have been any better. Fleming knew little about Payne, a journeyman performer who had made more than 50 movies at that point. Fleming, of course, knew diddley-squat about movies, having told his Hollywood pal, Claudette Colbert, that year that she “would be the perfect heroine” for any of his books that mght be filmed. Colbert was then 51.
In fact, not everyone in America knew Payne, either. . In 1953, the Los Angeles Examiner review of Rails Into Laramie referred to John Payne as… John Wayne. A fellow Universal-International contract star, Mara Corday, recalled him in their Restless Gun series, 1957-1959. “He had one expression – a raised eyebrow!” Hmm, an early Roger Moore…
Where, by the way, did Bond come from? High among Fleming’s influences was espionage (and occult) author Dennis Wheatley. His WWII CV matched Fleming’s. So did his own secret agent hero – suave, ruthless, orphaned at a young age, expelled from apublic school, smoking exotic cigarettes, had a facially scarred, bedding beautiful women and repeatedly saved the world from megalomaniacal villains. Only thing different washis hero’s cockeyed name. Sallust, Gregory Sallust.
Fleming, himself, insisted Bond was “a combination of all the secret agents and commando types” he encountered while serving with the British Naval Intelligence Division during WWII. Certainly, his boss, Rear Admiral John Henry Godfrey, was the model for M.
As for his looks, Fleming once drew him as a matrix for the comic-strip looking rather like Sherlock Holmes. (Ironically, one reader at the Jonathan Cape publishers complained that Bond “talks as though he were Dr Watson”).
And as for his name., Fleming wrote to a Mrs James Bond in Philadelphia on June 20, 1961. “I will confess at once that your husband has every reason to sue me in every possible position and for practically every kind of libel in the book, for I will now confess the damnable truth…. I was determined that my secret agent should be as anonymous a personality as possible, even his name should be the very reverse of the kind of Peregrine Carruthers whom one meets in this type of fiction, At that time one of my bibles was, and still is, Birds of the West Indies, by James Bond and it struck me that this name, unromantic and yet very masculine, was just wha I needed and so James Bond II was born and started off on the career that, I must confess, has been meteoric, culminating with his choice by your President as his favourite thriller hero.”
CBS invited Fleming to write a Bond series. He flew to the US in for talks in June, but but said his nephew, Fergus, “for one reason and another, the deal fell through.” One of his scripts had 007 connected with motor-racing – an idea picked up by Anthony Horowitz for the 25th Continuation Bond book, Trigger Mortis, in 2015
By November. Fleming was introduced to another producer who wanted to develop Bond for the cineda. Kevin McClory. He will return. To everyone’s misfortune…
1958 Long before Cubby met Harrry (he never foresaw the triumph), David Niven had tried to buy the 007 rights… for a TV series. Or, he asked pal Fleming if he could think of another suitable hero for him to play – “a high-class crook, a la Raffles or a super-modern Sherlock Holmes. (Again, Holmes!). Will you, dear chum, look back through your files and come up with something a little off-beat that would suit me?” He offered £1,000 for the chore. Fleming replied, he was just back from New York after working on just such a project “but for an entire television series.” However, Fleming no wish to entangle his copyright with Niven. Of course, Niven played Bond (among the many) is the first Casino Royale. And Fleming relinquished his rights to his Napoleon Solo series – it became The Man From UNCLE.
In 1979, Niven portrayed Sir William Stephenson – one of the real-life models for James Bond – in the 1979 mini-series, A Man Called Intrepid, based on the events that inspired From, Russia With Love. Stephenson was pleased Niven played him, as the actor was one of his WWII secret agents in his Intrepid espionage organisation. “He’s one person who knows what real war means. Despite Hollywood, Niven came back to England to serve in the war, and I regarded him highly for that.” So did Winston Churchill: “David is a fine young man.”
Barry Nelson and John Payne had no rivals for the 007 rôle. In Great Briitain choosing, testing, rumouring or even lying about the next Biond soon became something of a growth industry. In the 70s, . Michael Billington would make a career out of it! He holds the record of being seen for no less than six Bond movies times! During 1969-1983, he lost one to George Lazenby, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; five to Roger Moore: Live And Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy.
Rumours fill the social network. On TV chat shows, actors lie about tests they never made. There at least two cases, where actors were not only Bonds that never were but actors that never were– they are in media reportages, yet totally unknown to IMDb or Wiklepedia.
1959 Hardly surprising, as it would eventually make the UNCLE shows, MGM was next on the Bond scent… Or at least Maurice Winnick was and this TV producer claimed links to Metro. Then, another old Fleming pal, financier Ivar Bruce, decided to become a film producer. He had a modest hit with The Boy and The Bridge – directed by a certain Irishman called Kevin McClory. Bruce offered to start a studio called Xanadu and give Fleming $560,000-worth of shares in exchange for one Bond story. He knocked one off. However, Winnick and Bruce folded their intents. McClory remained keen and silver-tongued…
Robert Knitte was not an editor for long at Jonathan Cape’s book publishers, but long enough to advise Fleming to get an agent to sort out the dog’s breakfast he was making of trying to OK movie deals with Zanadu and Rank. And, oh yes, damn nearly selling Russia for $10,000 to producer Hubbell Robinson (87th Precinct and Burt Reynolds’ Hawk) as a Bond pilot for a 44-episode CBS series with James Mason as 007. Wise this once (or was it Knitte’s sagesse), Fleming chose Laurence Evans, the UK agent of numerous stars, toppermost the mighty Sir Laurence Olivier. (While accused of a lack of patriotism by living in Hollywood, Olivier was, in fact, working (under Korda) as a secret agent for the Special Operations Executive and MI5, at Winston Churchill’s behest, to help persuade influential Americans to support Britain in WWII. He then returned to the UK in 1941 and joined the Fleet Air Arm, completing 456 flying hours in the war).
By July, agent and client fretted about the Rank situation – did Rank own Moonraker or the entire farm? Neither, as it blissfully turned out.
What followed proved a convoluted and highly recriminatory tripartite with Fleming, Bryce and McClory planning the first Bond movie, James Bond of the British Secret Service (aka James Bond, Secret Agent)… [The full story is in the Thunderball page]. McClory invested less money but knew more than his colleagues about film-making. He was associate producer of two John Huston films plus Mike Todd’s Around The World In 80 Days. (He actually introduced Elizabeth Taylor to Todd, her third husband). Kevin also did more about the project, locating directors (Guy Hamilton among them), finding writers to improve on Fleming’s Boy’s Own-ish scripts (as non-visual as his books), even taking up scuba-driving and testing underwater cameras. McClory devised much of the scenario – penned by himself and Jack Whittingham, with precious little help from Fleming.
“They’d had real trouble with Fleming’s novels,” recalled Sylvan Whittingham, daughter of the writer who made Bond filmable. “The violent, sadistic, colder, misosygnistic Bond of the books didn’t work on the big screen. There was no humour, no charm. Daddy turned Bond into the suave hero they needed. Thunderball was the one on which all the others were based, it gave the formula for what would succeed.”
Everything was aimed at Alfred Hitchcock. If smitten, Hitch would take it all over and that, felt Fleming, would help rid them of McClory. Hitch was hunting a thriller for James Stewart (!). Paul Dehn (not yet an 007 scripter) suggested the still overly theatrical Richard Burton – or Peter Finch. (Both became future Hollywood choices). Acccording to his cousin Christopher Lee, Fleming insisted Bond be English and he also named James Mason – already chosen for an unmade 1959 tele-film of From Russia With Love, as a pilot for a 44-episode series. Fleming accepted $10,000 from producer Hubbell Robinson (87th Precinct and Burt Reynolds’ Hawk). McClory voted Trevor Howard, then the rather rough trade Richard Harris, while keeping his own Bond in reserve – a fellow Irishman, but of course. Enter: Terence Cooper. Terry had to wait a further decade before being 007 – among four other Bonds – in the lamentable Casino Royale, 1967.
1960 Work continued on Bond in the Bahamas – Fleming, himself, came up with the final title: Thunderball – as the back-stabbing trio was still convinced it had an almost God-like right to make the first ever Bond film. Not so, due to the cavalier way Fleming had sold off some of his books. People with those rights were now thinking of using them, if only as a nuisance value: enticing the author to buy back the rights. He did buy Moonraker back from Gregory Ratoff for $5,000. But Ratoff, first to buy Bond, and then allowing the abysmal TVersion of Jimmy Bond, was suddenly announcing a big-screen Casino Royale, at his usual studio, 20th Century Fox – with Peter Finch. MCA looked over Fleming’s second draft (using most of McClory-Whittingham’s ideas) and felt it could go at Fox with Stephen Boyd – or at Warners with Finch.
McClory. meantime, gave up talks with ex-lover Shirley MacLaine and was chatting up Brigitte Bardot for Domino. He was given six months to set up Thunderball – when no one new who had rights to be first anymore. After what could be called a draft – Notorious – the truth is, of course, that Hitchcock had already made the first Bond film, North By North West. Why else had Thunderball previously been titled Longtitude 78 West or Latitude 25…? Hitch, of course, had done it differently. Eva Marie Saint was Bond and Cary Grant, the girl… Just as the snobbish Fleming was now Iago to Ivar Bryce’s Othello as McClory was to be snuffed out like Desdemona. Except the Irishman fought back. With all the tenacity of Bond, himself.
Eons after I launched my often derided Hitchcock/Bond theory, I was rather chuffed to find that the latest Bondsmith, Sam Mendes, agreed with me. For Sam, the root of Bond movies was not Fleming but Hitch. “North by Northwest is the first true Bond movie,” he told Hollywood Reporter in 2012. “And Cary Grant is the antecedent of Bond. And that is the ideal, almost, of a thriller. And it also has great action sequences in it and great romance. You can see the echoes of that movie throughout the ’60s movies. You know, Connery, when he started, was an echo of Cary Grant. Cary Grant was the real thing. He was the sexiest and the most suave – the best actor. We’d all like to get North by Northwest. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
1961 Harry Saltzman buys an option on all 007 books, excepting Casino Royale… The Canadian producer, who helped start the UK New Wave with screen versions of the John Osborne’s plays, Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer, seemed an odd bedmate for Ian Fleming.
So why a deal with Harry? It was 40 years before his family found out why Saltzman and his Woodfall Films were interested in espionage… Following a routine request about moving from LA to Quebec, his daughter Hilary, discovered that her father, who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, had also worked for the Psychological Warfare Division of US Office of War Information (OWI) under Robert E Sherwood – a post that requiring instant US citizenship. All this was news to the Saltzman kin.
Harry’s secret WWII missions included being stationed in Algiers. Fleming was spent time there. It is possible, even probable, that they “crossed paths” there, decades before their official first meeting in 1961 – when Fleming gave Saltzman a six month option to film the Bond books excepting Casino Royale. Again, why…? Saltzman’s daughter believed the two men shared some similar experiences – “even though they couldn’t publicize it,” she told Vanity Fair in 2012. “I really think Ian felt that this series was safe in my father’s hands.”
The option cost: $50,000. Saltzman could easily afford it. He could not, however, raise any backing for a full movie. No studio or distributor felt a British spy could fly.
Saltzman was five months into his option deal when the London based US producer Albert R Broccoli – Cubby! – was telling one of his scenarists, Wolf Mankowitz, how he longed to put 007 on film. “Oh really,” said Wolf. “Well, I know the guy who has the rights. I’ll introduce you.”
And that, said Cubby, was when
“the duck fell out of the ceiling.”
Broccoli (yes, the family created what he termed the “upper-class cabbage”) knew he was on the right track when the March 17, 1961 Life magazine numbered From Russia With Love fifth among President JFK’s 18 favourite books. The rest included the Churchill biographies of Malborough, plus others on John Quncy Adams, John Buchan, Byron, Lincoln, Andre Malraux, Melbourne, Montrose, Talleyrand… and Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Only other fiction listed,(at #3), was Stendah’s Le rouge et noir. Bond would get more US paise when the (soon to be axed) CIA chief Allen Dulles said he wished the CIA had a half-dozen James Bonds!
Cubby had already tried to buy the 007 rights the previous year but had to miss the crucial meeting with Fleming when Mrs Broccoli fell ill. Cubby sent his Warwick Films partner, Irving Allen, to act for him. (Or them?) Trouble was Allen was no Bond fan. “These books,” he told Fleming, “are not even good enough for television.” End of meeting! And the start of Broccoli’s split from Allen.
Therefore, another partnership was far from his mind when Cubby. He simply aimed at seperating Saltzman from his option. Harry, however, was not surrendering anything, thank you very much. Hence, a new partnership was born, between the odd couple of an American action-movie producer and the Canadian (or was he?) supporter of the British New Wave.They agreed “we shall equally share” the rights to all Bond books. (The seventh, Goldfinger, was in bookshops at the time).
David V Picker was the new head of production (and future head honcho) at United Artists. By chance, he had already been turned on to Bond by his brother-in-law, who recommended checking in o the rights situation… By another chance, Lew Wasserman, the biggest agent in movies – Ian Fleming was among his clients – flew into New York to break bread with the big brass at UA. Picker couldn’t wait. And he started the meeting ahead of his boss, Arthur Krim. “Mr. Wasserman, why can’t we get the rights to James Bond? It would be great for Mr Hitchcock – we’ve never made a film with him. It’s perfect.”
“Great idea, kid!
But Fleming just won’t sell.”
The problem was that Ian Fleming think much of movies! And that is why it took nine years (and seven books) before 007 hit the screen when, as Picker phrased it, any intelligent studio production executive should have recognised that Bond was a franchise waiting to happen.
Thanks to Broccoli’s Hollywood contacts (he use to work for Howard Hughes), Picker’s next Ht visitors, a few months later, were Cubby and Harry and their lawyer, Irving Moskowitz. Picker, as per usual, sat with one leg propped on the corner of the desk to help tilt his chair back. This time, Cubby opened the conversation. “We own the rights to James Bond – are you interested?” And Picker‘s chair hit the floor.
“I said in no uncertain terms that we would make a deal and that the key to the film[s] was spending enough money to maintain Fleming’s tone in the sensuality, style, action and wit of the books. They never left that office until we had a deal. ” After 45 minutes on June 20, they settled on $1million from UA for one film.
On July 6, Cubby and Harry created Eon as the Bond production company. (Barbara Broccoli, his daughter and future 007 producer, was then one year old). OK, they had the director and scenarist, Terence Young and Richard Maibaum, from several of Cubby’s Warwick films. All they needed was Bond.
Like Cary Grant in From Russia With Love or Thunderball directed by Howard Hawks (or Hitchcock!). Hawks was also asked to helm the Casino Royale circus in 1966 by his ex-agent-turned-producer Charles Feldman. After catching an early screening of Dr No, Hawks knew his place – and Sean’s! – and withdrew.
Broccoli had been Hawks’ assistant director for the two weeks they’d worked on The Outlaw in 1940, before Howard Hughes decided to control every-thang! The whole Jane Russell experience influenced Cubby’s future Bond Girl tit-tests. Like Cary Grant, Hawks (better Hawks and Grant) was a great notion… Eight years earlier, the director had discovered the first Bond Girl, Ursula Andress,at age 17. Hawks first wanted her to play the treacherous princess Nellifer in his Egyptian epic, Land of the Pharaohs, and then attempted to put her under contract, starting with Man’s Favourite Sport… which finally started shooting after Dr No was done and dusted.
“Bond’s a good idea and
I like it,” said Cary Grant.
Cary had been Cubby’s best man at his third marriage – just as Broccoli had also introduced Hawks to his iconic (second) wife, “Slim” Gross, the matrix for all Hawksian (and one might add, Bondian) women. Hitchcock had also beern requested because, after all, Cary Grant’s secret agent in Notorious, 1946, was a virtual template for 007. “Cary had the style, the sophistication,” said Cubby. “He also happened to be a Bond aficionado.”
That’s why, Grant said, he couldn’t be Bond. “How old Cary Grant” had just turned 58, Also, he never did sequels…
OK, he’d do one Bond film. And he did. Charade!
The first of the Bond series was due to be Thunderball until he designated producer and co-writer Kevin McClory refused any deals until the outcome of his court action against Ian Fleming for basing his book on this script. Scenarist Richard Maibaum switched to adapting Dr No (five times) and before Terence Young signed to direct, Guy Green, Guy Hamilton, Ken Hughes refused.
Incidentally, after releven days’s work on Lolita, Peter Sellers and Stanley Kubrick were such a mutual admiration society, they began mulling over more joint projects. Kubrick wanted to make From Russia With Love as a parody with Sellers as 007, an idea that came to (faulty) fruition in the lamentable Casino Royale, 1967- a project with far too many egos. And jolnts.
“What do you think?” asked Fleming.
“Two films? Three? That’s about it.
Then, the joke will be over.”
The hunt for 007 had begun. Burton and Mason (Hamilton had made his Touch of Larceny, 1959) were mentioned. Fleming was also keen on Trevor Howard, Michael Redgrave, Edward Underdown – all too old to maintain credibility, never mind a series… if everyone got lucky. Underdown, a previous Terence Young star, turned up as an Air Vice-Marshall in the eventual Thunderball.
“Fleming thought David Niven [Sir James Bond in Casino Royale] would have made a great James Bond,” said Maibaum, “but David wasn’t all that physical.” Even a certain Roger Moore was on the short list way back the beginning. (News to him, he admitted in 2008). Saltzman liked him but Broccoli said he was too young at 34 (like he was ted too damn old when he started at 45) and “a shade too pretty.”
Readers of the Daily Express, which ran a Bond comic-strip, voted for lantern-jawed Patrick Allen. Terry Young preferred (and tested – three times) Richard Johnson – Young’s 1964 substitute for Connery in The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders. Johnson was then chosen by Betty Box when, upon realising her Bond error, she attempted tried to breathe life into the corpse of another stalwart British hero, Bulldog Drummond, with Deadlier Than the Male, 1966, and Some Girls Do, 1968. No vast success. “I was so right for Bond, I would have been wrong,” Johnson told Cinema Retro magazine about Bond in 2009. “Sean was so wrong for the part, he turned out to be right…”
There is also the highly questionable suggestion that Cubby offered a Bond test to Hollywood film-maker John Frankenheimer ( the Spielbergian wunderkind of the 60s). He was tall enough, handsome and charismatic enough. With two major faults. He was no actor. And he was American. And Cubby, perhaps even more than Fleming, knew 007 had to be a Brit.
In his autobiography, Broccoli (or his ghost, showbiz journalist Donald Zec), said that James Fox was uneasy about the sex and violence (This did not stop him making Performance). Steve Reeves said he refused over a salary dispute (Hah)… likewise Stephen Boyd (or his fans). “I never have played and never will play,” vowed Patrick McGoohan, who also rejected The Saint, ”a character who gets a personal satisfaction out of violence and is too promiscuous.”
“I’d rather do chicken farming,”
said Patrick McGoohan.
The tele-espionage series that made McGoohan a potential 007, Danger Man 1960-62, featured guest shots from such future Bondian folk as: Honor Blackman, Anthony Dawson, Walter Gotell, Charles Gray, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Zena Marshall, Lois Maxwell, Bill Nagy and Donald Pleasence.
“If ever John Drake came up against James Bond,” insisted McGoohan, “Drake would win, even if he had the stuffing knocked out of him. You see, Drake is a dedicated character. He may be more dull than Bond, but he does his job better, more efficiently. Anyway, I’m a family man. I wouldn’t want my children to see me slopping around with sexy pieces like Bond does or beating up people or being beaten up. Surely that does not make me a prude.”
“And I should be shot in the head,” craggy Aussie Rod Taylor told me during the 1997 Cannes festival. “Cubby Broccoli – dear old Cubby – said he had something for me. I should do a test. He had these books written by Ian Fleming. Whaddyer mean, I yelled, a fucking TV series? No fucking way!”
Extremely Bondish, sleek, smart, cat-like, in The Angry Hills, 1959, the Welsh Stanley Baker was keen but not for three films. He had plans as a producer – and made a star out of Michael Caine the following year in Zulu, 1963. Apparently, Baker later offered to be a future Bond villain. A decade earlier, he had been in Broccoli’s first UK film, The Red Beret (US: Paratrooper), made by the Bond family: co-produced by Cubby, written by Richard Maibum, directed by Terence Young in 1952. Although the Welsh Baker was dubbed in the film, Broccoli used him again in another Warwick production, Hell Below Zero, 1953, also headlined by Alan Ladd.
The 00 prefix was also aimed at two very-British, stiff-upper-lip screen heroes: Richard Todd and George Baker – 1954 co-stars in the WWII classic, The Dam Busterst. The facts only emerged in their obituaries, in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Fleming liked both but they were contracted to other UK studios. As a stolid actor (playing clean-cut British heroes such as Wing Commander Guy Gibson, Robin Hood, Sir Walter Raleigh), Todd was as boring as his friends (Ronald Reagan included) and his future career (dairy farmer). Baker was Bulgarian-born (his father was a diplomat). I used to see him acting at the local repertory theatre when I was a kid reporter on the Salisbury Journal in the late 50s. He popped up as an NASA engineer in You Only Live Twice and Captain Benson in The Spy Who Loved Me – and actually played Bond, by dubbing George Lazenby when his strine had a tough time trying to impersonate the pukka English genealogist, Sir Hilary Bray, in OHMSS.
Finally, they found Sean…
McGoohan claimed he suggested him. Except it was Dr No’s editor and future Bond director Peter Hunt who did that in October. “And Cubby saw something in Sean,” Maibaum confirmed, “which he thought was what they wanted.”
Broccoli and his third wife, Dana, were impressed by the 1953 Mr Scotland in Disney’s Darby O’Gill and The Little People. “He played an idiot farmer but he had balls,” said Cubby, forgetting he had rejected the same ballsy Connery for a role in How To Murder A Rich Uncle, 1957 (the bit went to Michael Caine who delighted in joshing Cubby about it for years). When the Darby O’Gill screening finished at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios, Dana said: “That is our Bond. He’s sexy.”
Connery’s lover, actress Diane Cilento, told him to go for it. (She regretted that after marrying him). Unafraid of Broccoli and Saltzman, or anyone else for that matter, Connery took their Eon company name seriously. He, to, wanted Everything Or Nothing.
“He pounded the desk and told us what he wanted,” recalled Broccoli. “Sean didn’t want to do a screen test. ‘If you like me. That’s it.’ We agreed and we watched him bounce across the street like he was Superman. He moved like a cat.”
“Sean was a blasted milkman,” said Honor Blackman. He had made Action of the Tiger for Terence Young who now exclaimed: “Oh disaster, disaster, disaster.” Young saw himself as Bond and passed on certain tips to Sean who, heing the adroit actor he was, added most of them to his own ideas to make a definitive Bond… that had to be altered to suit Roger Moore’s pantomime hero. (Oh yes he was!).
United Artists, having moved in where Columbia feared to tread, cabled its famous comment about Sean: WE CAN DO BETTER.
Dr No began shooting on Jauary 16, 1962, in Jamaica On April 2 long before the October 5 premiere, UA signed a deal with Eon for six more. The Bonds had begun..
If you felt John Frankenheimer was an off-centre idea, just waIt…
Constantly looking out for potential Bonds, Cubby Broccoli – dear old Cubby! – felt the person closest to a real-life Bond was Anglo-Irish John Bingham, the elegant seventh Earl of Lucan, a professional gambler (backgammon, chemin de fer, poker, etc). He also held the titles of Baron Lucan of Castlebar, Baron Lucan of Melcombe Lucanm and Baronet Binghnam of Castlebar.
“He had it all,” Broccoli 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!’.” In 1974, Lord Lucan was chief suspect in the murder of his children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett, and he immediately…vanished. Never seen again from that day to this. Suicice? No body was ever found. More likely, he was – still is? – harboured by friends.
Hollywood super-agent Michael Ovit took a meeting in 1978 with a top client who wanted an action movie. “I want to play James Bond.” Choosing his words with as mucb skill as placing peas on a fork, Ovitz replied: “You’re thinly built, you’re too sensitive, you won’t be credible as a block of stone. You’d be great at it, of course, but it’d be bad for you.”
The client was…Michael Jackson