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Fifty Fascinating Facts About James Bond

Mohan is a family physician, film and TV aficionado, a keen bibliophile and an eclectic scribbler.

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Bond, James Bond

My father was a stoic man. He worked in the police department and always conveyed a sense of stern discipline and demanded abject compliance to his rules as much from his family as from his line of work. I was the eldest of three sons, and there is no denying that I lived in fear of my dad. Underneath all that fear and the anxiety of violence, my dad and I shared some key moments that I will never forget. My dad loved English action films ( I grew up in South India), and despite whatever trauma happened in the house ( or often because of it!), he used to take me to watch films.

For a boy growing up in a run down suburb of Madras, nothing was more exotic than the Hollywood gloss. And the films that left me most awestruck, fueled my fantasies and stoked the fire of adventure form one of the greatest action series of all time.

The James Bond Films.

What more, I admired the style and decorum, the glamour and etiquette and developed a passion to wear a tux one day. Believe me, where I grew up, dreaming of wearing a tux one day was as much a fantasy as going to Mars.

Their quality may vary, the world conquering supervillainy may now look a tad dated, the one liners may even come across as cheesy, their approach to sex and sexuality even misogynistic, but there is no denying the sheer exuberance and the global success ( they've made billions in box office and still continue to do so as the longest running movie series).

Ian Fleming' s impression of what Bond looked like : sketched by his own hand

Ian Fleming' s impression of what Bond looked like : sketched by his own hand

Bond 50

The first Bond film was released in 1962 so 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond in celluloid. In order to celebrate this anniversary I've compiled here my own Fifty fascinating facts about suave British spy for your delectation. You don't need to be a fan of Bond to read this, as I feel James Bond films make a fascinating study of cultural trends even more so than the books that inspired them.

As a completist, the temptation is to flood you with Bond Trivia, but I'll resist the urge and bring you nuggets of information that you may or may not know, but will always stay memorable whether you are a Bond fan or not and may come in handy in a pub or Christmas quiz!

Ian Lancaster Fleming (28 May 1908 – 12 August 1964)

Ian Lancaster Fleming (28 May 1908 – 12 August 1964)

1. The Author and His Creation

Ian Fleming modelled a lot of the traits of his famous creation on his own. Like the author, James Bond smoked handmade cigarettes at the rate of 70 a day. He drank liberally - at least one drink for every 7 pages in the novels- totaling to around 317 drinks in the course of the book series. However, only 17 of them were the famous ' shaken not stirred' Vodka Martinis!

Commander Bond is recruited to MI6 from the British Navy. Ian Fleming served in the British Naval Intelligence unit during the second world war.

Fleming was only 56 when he died of a second heart attack- the lifelong habit of heavy smoking and drinking taking its toll. However, his hero lives on despite a lifestyle that will make any medical professional go pale with concern ( or envy, as the case may be!)

Birds of the West Indies by James Bond

Birds of the West Indies by James Bond

2. You Know My Name, You Know My Number

American Ornithologist and author James Bond would have never suspected that a copy of his book would land with Ian Fleming ( who was a keen birdwatcher himself).

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Stuck for a name for his main character, Fleming was searching for a 'dull, Anglo-Saxon yet very masculine sounding name' and happened upon the book and the author's name on the cover and promptly took inspiration from it. He originally wanted his hero to be a 'dull man to whom exciting things happened' and felt James Bond was the dullest name he has come across! If I was the original Mr Bond, I wouldn't know whether to be flattered or annoyed!

3. The Ian Fleming Novels

There are 12 original James Bond novels and two short story collections written by Ian Fleming and published between 1953 and 1966 ( the last two The Man with the Golden Gun and the collection Octopussy & The Living Daylights published posthumously. Fleming always produced a book a year and this accounted for the growing popularity of his novels with best seller status.



4. US Sales

After President John F Kennedy stated in an interview that 'From Russia with Love' was one of his top ten reads, Fleming's sales in the US went ballistic.Overall the Bond Novels have sold over 100 million copies across the world!



5. Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang

When Fleming was recuperating from his first heart attack, his friends suggested that he relax by writing a children's story instead of plotting a Bond. He took on the challenge and produced the popular children's story 'Chitty, Chitty, Bang Bang' that also went on to become a film and a musical.

The Bond Books

TitleYearCategory

Casino Royale

1953

Novel

Live and Let Die

1954

Novel

Moonraker

1955

Novel

Diamonds are Forever

1956

Novel

From Russia with Love

1957

Novel

Dr No

1958

Novel

Goldfinger

1959

Novel

For Your Eyes Only

1960

Short Story collection

Thunderball

1961

Novel

The Spy who Loved Me

1962

Novel

On her Majesty's Secret Service

1963

Novel

You Only Live Twice

1964

Novel

The Man with the Golden Gun

1965

Novel

Octopussy & The Living Daylights

1966

Short Story collection

Dr No released in 1962

Dr No released in 1962

6. Dr No & Thunderball

Dr No was chosen as the first film by producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli as the original choice Thunderball was mired in controversy over its rights. Thunderball was actually written as a screenplay which Ian Fleming later novelised. The co-scripter Kevin McClory sued Fleming for the rights of the novel and settled out of court. Fleming retained the rights to the novel while McClory got the rights to the screenplay. This is how Thunderball got remade by McClory as ' Never Say Never Again' using another production company.

Sean Connery as 007

Sean Connery as 007

7. Sean Connery

Unknown Actor ( and former milk man, coffin polisher, truck driver, artist model and third prize winner in Mr Universe competition) Connery was cast after many actors were considered for the role and discarded. Cary Grant was approached but would only commit to one film. The producers wanted someone who would work in a franchise.

Ian Fleming called him an 'overgrown stuntman' and hated his casting and wanted a 'proper Englishman'. However, after the monstrous success of the films, Fleming grew fond of Sean Connery's portrayal and as a tribute made Bond's ancestry Scottish in the books. The first director 'Terence Young' took Connery to his hairdresser and Suit maker to introduce him to the world of suave London style miles away from from his Glaswegian roots.

Miss Moneypenny ( Lois Maxwell)

Miss Moneypenny ( Lois Maxwell)

8. Miss Moneypenny

Actress Lois Maxwell who played the perennial favorite Miss Moneypenny was originally offered the role of the first bond girl in the film Dr No, the character Sylvia Trench ( appearing in the above video) Maxwell didn't want a raunchy role and instead opted for the role of M's secretary. It was a wise choice, while Sylvia Trench only appeared in two films, Miss Money Penny appeared in 14 films from 1962 to her last appearance in A View to a Kill 1985!

Desmond Llewelyn

Desmond Llewelyn

9.Q

The role of 'Q' is largely absent in the books and is only alluded to in a few novels. Although the 'Q' branch is mentioned a few times. Fleming used 'Q' as a short term for 'Quartermaster'. Immortalized on screen by actor Desmond Llewellyn, the role was largely created for the film franchise.

'Q's real name is Major Boothroyd in the novel Dr No.. This is a tribute to a Scottish arms firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd who wrote to Ian Fleming to say that the original gun Bond was equipped with in the first 5 novels - a Beretta M418- was a 'girl's gun'.


10. The Gun

Fleming took heed to this advice and changed James Bond's gun to the now famous Walther PPK and gave the armourer from 'Q' branch the name Boothroyd as a tribute.

Allegedly it is the same gun used by Hitler to commit suicide!

Walther PPK

Walther PPK

12. Honey Ryder

Honeychile Ryder in the novel (it was shortened to Honey Rider in the film) is not the first bond girl, although the more famous one by that stunning introductory scene. Bond's first conquest in films is Sylvia Trench played by actress Eunice Gayson.

Her appearance in the white bikini has been voted by many as one of the sexiest introductions in movie history and sent bikini sales soaring across the world. Ursula Andress also appears in the spoof Bond film Casino Royale starring David Niven and Woody Allen in 1967, playing the character Vesper Lynd.

Nikki Van Der Zyl: Voiceover artist who dubbed for many Bond Girls including Ursula Andress, Claudine Augur, Shirley Eaton and Mie Hama

Nikki Van Der Zyl: Voiceover artist who dubbed for many Bond Girls including Ursula Andress, Claudine Augur, Shirley Eaton and Mie Hama

13. Nikki Van Der Zyl

Ursula Andress had such a strong swiss accent that her voice was dubbed by voice artist Nikki van der Zyl. The German actress and voice over artist then went onto voice of several bond girls over the course of many years and is an unsung heroine of the Bond films. In Dr No she voiced Ursula Andress and Eunice Gayson and set a precedent for voicing many female characters in the same Bond film She also acted as voice coach for Gert Frobe who played Goldfinger.

Fleming's Beachfront holiday home in Jamaica

Fleming's Beachfront holiday home in Jamaica

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Aerial view of Goldeneye, Jamaica

Aerial view of Goldeneye, Jamaica

14. Goldeneye, Jamaica

Ian Fleming wrote all his novels in his annual Jamaican holiday retreat. His beachfront home in Jamaica must have been an ideal venue to conjure up James Bond storylines. The producers of the films used the name of the house as the title for return of the Bond series after a hiatus, starring Pierce Brosnan.

It is said Fleming was involved in an World War II secret operation called Goldeneye, that inspired the name of his property.

15. Nassau, Bahamas

While filming Thunderball, Sean Connery fell in love with Nassau , Bahamas that he bought himself a house over there as a holiday retreat.

James Bond - Coat of Arms

James Bond - Coat of Arms

16. Orbis Non sufficit

The coat of arms of James Bond's family is introduced in the novel On her Majesty's Secret service. The Latin phrase 'Orbis Non sufficit' translates to ' The World is not enough' which later became the title of a bond film.

17. The Bond Family

In the novel You Only Live Twice, Fleming reveals Bond is the son of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond and a Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix. Bond's parents are killed in a mountain climbing accident in the near Chamonix, leaving a eleven-year-old James an orphan bond's Scottish ancestry was a tribute to Sean Connery by the now impressed Fleming.

Famous Gunbarrel sequence

Famous Gunbarrel sequence

18. The Gunbarrel sequence

In the first three bond films, the person who appears in the title Gun barrel sequence is stuntman Bob Simmons. Connery only started appearing from the film ThunderBall.

Maud Adams as Octopussy

Maud Adams as Octopussy

Maud Adams in The Man with the Golden Gun

Maud Adams in The Man with the Golden Gun

19. Reappearances

Many Actors have resurfaced as different characters in the Bond movies : The most significant re-appearance goes to Swedish actress Maud Adams. She appeared as Andrea Anders in The Man with the Golden Gun and returned as the title character Octopussy in the eponymous film. She was so well liked by the producers, she even had a passing cameo in A view to a Kill.

Thunderball art by Mcginnis

Thunderball art by Mcginnis

20. The Posters

Many of the iconic Bond poster art were created by artist Robert McGinnis who also created hundreds of paperback covers for the pulp novels of the era. His composition and design of the Bond posters make them an extremely desirable collectors item.

All the Bonds in one

All the Bonds in one

Man with the Golden Gun - Poster Art by Robert Mcginnis

Man with the Golden Gun - Poster Art by Robert Mcginnis

21. The United Kingdom of Bond

James Bond has been played by Scottish actor ( Connery) twice by Englishmen ( Roger Moore, Daniel Craig), A Welshman ( Timothy Dalton) , an Irish actor ( Pierce Brosnan) and an Aussie ( George Lazenby).

Contrary to popular opinion George Lazenby who only played Bond in On her Majesty's secret Service actually signed a multi picture deal and then left but was not fired. All other actors left of their own volition except Brosnan, who was 'let go' as the reboot of Casino Royale demanded a younger actor.


bond-50-fifty-fascinating-facts-about-james-bond

22. Return of Connery - Twice


Connery was lured with a hefty price tag and a share of the profits to play Bond again in Diamonds are Forever after OHMSS. The rich purse that he got for the film, Connery generously donated to a Scottish EducationTrust. ( He would later return to film Never Say Never again, for a rival production company.

23. 0000007

The Web address of James Bond's IMDB character page is 0000007.

bond-50-fifty-fascinating-facts-about-james-bond

24. Roald Dahl


Children's Author Roald Dahl who wrote many popular novels such as Matilda Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach etc. ( that have been filmed subsequently) wrote the screenplay for the Bond film You Only Live Twice. He also wrote the screenplay adaptation of Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.