Saturday, February 28, 2015

Martin Benson’s Solo from Goldfinger Features in Day 59 of Bond 365

Martin Benson
Passed away this day in 2010
Solo in Goldfinger

Englishman Martin Benson was originally headed for a career as a pharmacist, however World War II changed his path. While serving with the Royal Artillery, he was eventually station in Cairo. While there, he started a stage company, Mercury Theatre with Arthur Lowe (he would go on to star in Dad’s Army, an English television series). According to The Telegraph obituary for Benson, “King Farouk was a keen attender of its Shakespeare productions.”

After the war, Benson had the acting bug and he got work in the movies. He was often a supporting character or cast as a villain. He made the cross over between British and Hollywood; in all, he had 111 appearances in film and television in a career that spanned over sixty years! 

In Goldfinger, Benson played gangster Mr. Solo who refuses to join Auric Goldfinger. He is shot, stuffed in a car and ultimately crushed by a car-crushing machine in a junkyard. It was a gruesome way to go and apparently, some of Benson’s characters had memorable, albeit violent exits.

Benson, like many others I’ve written about over the intervening days for Bond 365, had creative pursuits away from the camera lens. For Benson, he was a writer and director of documentaries, animated films, and commercials. He wrote an instructional book about acting. And, he was a painter. His portraits of theatrical actors – John Gielgud and Alec Guinness, amongst others – were part of a Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. (I looked around for an image of one or more of his painting, but sadly, I couldn’t find any.)

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