Website last updated: 18-5-2017

5 SEPTEMBER 2017
JAMES BOND 007 ACTOR GEORGE LAZENBY

By: Anders Frejdh
Published:
2015-10-02
The world famous James Bond actor George Lazenby turns 77. George played 007 in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) which by many James Bond aficionados, fans and scholars alike is considered to be the best film in the entire series.

With this page, FSWL (From Sweden with Love) would like to extend our personal wishes to the man who took on the HUGE challenge of taking over the role of 007 from Sean Connery in 1968 and played it so well.

"Happy birthday George, never forget that Sweden loves you very much."

About George Lazenby:
George Lazenby was born in Goulburn, New South Wales, at Ovada Private Hospital, to railway worker George Edward Lazenby and Sheila Joan Lazenby (née Bodel), who worked at Fosseys. He went to Bourke Street School in his primary years, and Goulburn High until either 1953 or 1954. The young Lazenby was fond of guns, knives, and riding bikes, and is described by those who went to school with him as "a bit of a larrikin." His sister, Barbara, was an accomplished dancer. When he was about 14 or 15 he moved with his family from Goulburn to Queanbeyan, where he worked as a car salesman, mechanic and model before moving to England.

Lazenby's started out in acting by appearing in commercials for British Petroluem, Cadbury Fry Chocolates, Malboro, Slumberland and a few notable commercial brands in the 60s. It was said that his first film appearance was in a bit part in a 1965 Italian-made Bond spoof, Espionage in Tangiers but reviews of the movies indicates that there was no scene of Lazenby's appearance at all. There were reports that mentioned the earlier longer version of the film had Lazenby appearing, but was since removed from the actual film.

In 1968, after Sean Connery quit the role of James Bond, and 24-year-old actor Timothy Dalton declined the role, believing he was too young for it, producer Albert R. Broccoli chose Lazenby after seeing him in a commercial. Lazenby dressed the part by sporting several sartorial Bond elements such as a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and a Savile Row suit (ordered, but uncollected, by Connery). Broccoli offered him an audition. The position was consolidated when Lazenby accidentally punched a professional wrestler, who was acting as stunt coordinator, in the face, impressing Broccoli with his ability to display aggression. Lazenby won the role based on a screen-test fight scene, the strength of his interviews, fight skills and audition footage.

During the production of the film, Lazenby's voice was dubbed over with George Baker's in scenes in which Bond impersonated Sir Hilary Bray (Baker's character), something not traditionally done with a leading actor whose original language is English. According to an interview, Lazenby experienced difficulties on the set stemming from director Peter R. Hunt's refusal to speak directly with him, and Hunt's brusqueness in asking Lazenby's friends to clear the set before filming.

At the time of the release of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Lazenby's performance received mixed reviews. Some felt that whilst he was physically convincing, some of his costumes were inappropriate ("too loud" according to some) and that he delivered his lines poorly. Others, however, have developed differing views in the decades since the film. In the 1998 book The Essential James Bond, Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall write: "Although OHMSS was routinely dismissed by critics who cited Lazenby as a brave but disappointing successor to Connery, the intervening years have been notably kinder to both the film and its star. Indeed, due in no small part to Peter Hunt's inspired direction, OHMSS generally ranks among the top films with fans. Likewise, Lazenby has emerged as a very popular contributor to the series and has enjoyed large enthusiastic audiences during his appearances at Bond related events. In summary, OHMSS is a brilliant thriller in its own right and justifiably ranks amongst the best Bond films ever made".

In Roger Moore's commentary for a 2007 DVD release of The Man with the Golden Gun, he referenced George Lazenby as follows : "I have a great deal of e-mail contact with George Lazenby; he's sort of on the joke circuit ... that we simply send jokes to each other. OHMSS – very well made film – Peter Hunt – excellent, excellent, excellent fight stuff, excellent snow effects ... but I think the end result for George was that it was one of the better Bonds".

In the pre-title sequence of OHMSS, Lazenby comments: "This never happened to the other fellow", an in-joke referring to his predecessor Sean Connery, which has been interpreted by some film critics as breaking the fourth wall.

Although Lazenby had been offered a contract for seven movies, his agent, Ronan O'Rahilly, convinced him that the secret agent would be archaic in the liberated 1970s, and as a result he left the series after the release of On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969. After this role Lazenby began to study drama at Durham University's College of the Venerable Bede. Lazenby has portrayed James Bond several times over the years in numerous parodies and unofficial 007 roles, most notably the 1983 TV movie The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (opposite Patrick MacNee) and an episode of The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents, entitled Diamonds Aren't Forever.

Lazenby has portrayed The Marlboro Man in cigarette advertising.

Despite starring in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and 1977's The Kentucky Fried Movie (the combined gross earnings of which exceeded 100 USD million worldwide in the 1970s, then the standard establishing an actor as a box office success), Lazenby's acting career did not flourish. One notable TV role came in the BBC's Play For Today series in 1973, with Lazenby starring in Roger Smith's The Operation.

In 1973, Lazenby was set to work in Hong Kong with Bruce Lee. A planned meeting with Lee and Raymond Chow to discuss a movie project for the Golden Harvest film Game of Death collapsed after Lee's sudden death, although Lazenby would still go on to make three of the four films he signed to do with Lee in Hong Kong, The Shrine of Ultimate Bliss (1974), The Man from Hong Kong (1975) (also known as The Dragon Flies), and A Queen's Ransom (1976). Lazenby was only featured with archive footage when Game of Death was finally released in 1978, after a five-year delay caused by Lee's death while it was still in production.

Lazenby also made a guest appearance on the popular TV series Superboy, playing Jor-El, Superboy's biological father, opposite Britt Ekland during the show's second season in 1990. He appeared with Sylvia Kristel in several new Emmanuelle films in the 1990s, many of which appeared on cable TV.

Editor's note:
For other posts covering George Lazenby featured on From Sweden with Love, click here.

Photo above:
George Lazenby at the VIP opening of 007 Walk of Fame at Schilthorn in Switzerland, July 2015. Photo by Sascha Braun. © From Sweden with Love. All rights reserved.

For more information about George Lazenby's film career, check out his profile on IMDB:
www.imdb.com/name/nm0493872/
#george_lazenby

All information, text and graphics (unless otherwise stated) on this website are protected by copyright law. Please contact us to use anything.

This website is not in any way endorsed by EON Productions Ltd, Danjaq, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sony Pictures, United Artists, Ian Fleming Publications, or any other James Bond copyright holders. It is an independently run non-profit website from a personal basis in spare time.

James Bond film images © 1962 - 2015 EON Productions Ltd, Danjaq LLC, MGM, Sony Pictures and United Artists Cooperation

James Bond book covers © 1953 - 2017 Ian Fleming Publications and Glidrose Productions.

Managing Editor: Anders Frejdh