Tuesday, April 7, 2015

First Bond, Barry Nelson and Berkely Mather Passed Away…..Day 98 of Bond 365

Berkely Mather
Passed away this day in 1996
Screenwriter for Dr. No and From Russia with Love
Man in From Russia with Love

Berkely Mather was a pseudonym for John Evan Weston-Davies who was born in the UK. As a young boy, he and his family moved to Australia. At some point, he returned to the England and was unable to find work. He enlisted and served in India and then in Iraq. He returned from the military in 1959.

Mather taught himself how to write script after reading the last chapter of The Right Way to Radio Playwriting by Val Gielgud, which was the catalyst for his second career as a writer. He wrote his first novel, The Achilles Affair in 1959 and followed it up with The Pass Beyond Kashmir. Ian Fleming gave Mather positive reviews. Eon Productions would tap Mather twice for screenwriting duties. The first time was on Dr. No and then in the follow up movie, From Russia with Love. His one acting credit was in the latter film, as ‘Man’.

Barry Nelson
Passed away this day in 2007
James Bond in CBS Climax! ‘Casino Royale’ Episode

Barry Nelson was born and raised in the Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1941. He was discovered during college where he was doing stage acting and later Broadway.

In 1954, he brought life to Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale as a one-hour episode in the CBS television series Climax! In a 2004 interview, Nelson remembered struggling to play the part because he hadn’t read the book prior to the show. In addition, he learned he was supposed to the part on live television. Nelson actually tried to get out of the part because he didn’t want to do live tv, since he had already done a fair share of live performances. Changes to the script were occurring up the last minute. Nelson said, “I was very conscious of the fact that there wasn’t much to go on. It was too superficial.” I think that Nelson was too hard on himself. I’ve watched the tv show and honestly, one hour cannot be compared with a full length film. I found the episode entertaining and provides a 60-minute snapshot of the potential of the James Bond character and his world.

Nelson had a lengthy acting career that began in 1938 in the film Comet Over Broadway in which he played an uncredited role as a garage mechanic. He did act in quick a few television shows over the intervening years. In fact, he returned to Climax! in 1958 for the episode titled ‘The Push-Button Giant.’ His last acting credit was in the television show Monsters in 1990, when he retired from acting.

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