Saturday, March 7, 2015

Actors and Writers, Together on a Saturday Night….Day 66 of Bond 365

Richard Vernon and Sean Connery
Richard Vernon
Born this day in 1925
Smithers in Goldfinger

It does come as any surprise that Richard Vernon would have had a stage career since he trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama. His career on the screen (big and small) began in 1949 when he had an uncredited role in Stop Press Girl. Looking through his IMDB profile, he had some interesting and varied roles: Sir Edgar Hargraves in Village of the Damned, Lord Matterley in The Avengers, Sir John Ripwell in The Saint, Major Cochran-Danby in Upstairs, Downstairs, and as Slartibartfast (what a name!) in The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (TV mini-series).

Vernon often filled military and aristocratic roles and when he worked in television, he was known for stealing scenes. He unfortunately passed away from Parkinson’s Disease two years after he retired from acting.

William Boyd (Photo from Wikipedia)
William Boyd
Born this day in 1952
Author of Solo

In 2012, Ian Fleming Publications announced the selection of British writer/screenwriter William Boyd to write a James Bond novel. The novel, Solo, set in 1969 Africa, was the follow up to Jeffery Deaver’s 2011 Bond novel, Carte Blanche. Boyd read the Bond stories and analyzed Fleming and literary Bond in order to create his own spy book. Because he had been officially chosen, he had to pass his drafts through the Fleming estate. Apparently arguments ensued regarding the characterization of Bond in Solo.

I haven’t read Solo as yet, but I do plan to even though most of what I have heard has been negative. I actually don’t think I know anyone who has read it. It seems as though it came and went, not having any lasting pull in the bookstores that I could see.

Charles Gray
Charles Gray
Passed away this day in 2000
Henderson in You Only Live Twice; Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever

He was born in the southern coastal town of Bournemouth in 1928 as Donald Marshall Gray. He received vocal training at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Company and at the Old Vic in London. His stage career began in 1952 when he debuted as Charles the Wrestler in “As You Like It” – it was a natural part because Gray was 6’ 2”. He went on to play leading roles and receive critical acclaim. During his theatre days, he changed his name to Charles Gray because there was already an actor by the name of Donald Gray.

Gray got a start on the small screen in 1957 and a year later, reprised his theatrical role as Capt. Cyril Mavors in the movie Expresso Bongo. From there, he did a lot of television and films. He dubbed actor Jack Hawkins’ voice in the Lawrence of Arabia, who had his larynx removed because of throat cancer. Interestingly, Hawkins’ voice had been dubbed by another Bond alum, Robert Rietty.

Gray was of the very few Bond alums to portray both a good character – Henderson – and a bad character – Blofeld. Sadly, the voice that made him famous was also his demise: he died of throat cancer.

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