|Bernard Lee as 'M'|
Born January 10, 1908
M in 11 Eon Productions' Bond films, 1962 - 1979
Early on in his career, his solid performances led his peers to assess that he excelled in roles of authority and that fact probably lent Lee's memorable role as M. Several critics judged his portrayal favorably and complimented his ability to realize Fleming's fictional profile of the head of MI6 on film. It is curious though that he, Lois Maxwell and a number of other Bond alums chose to star in O.K. Connery (1967) which spotlighted Sean's younger brother Neil as a secret agent. In 1975, Lee and Maxwell again accepted roles as M and Miss Moneypenny respectively in a French James Bond spoof titled From Hong Kong with Love.
Lee's last appearance was Moonraker and although filming had started on For Your Eyes Only, Lee had been unwell and had not shot any of his scenes prior to his death in 1981. No replacement was sought and instead, the franchise re-wrote the storyline to say that M was on leave.
Post Script 01/11/2015 - Thank you to Twitter follower @dbrunningblind for providing me with the following link to one of Bernard Lee's films, Robert Tronson's Ring of Spies (1964). It's out on DVD and was reviewed at Cinema Retro. It sounded fascinating, so I have added it to my list of purchases in the near future. Thanks for the info @dbrunningblind!