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|5 SEPTEMBER 2013
A CELEBRATION OF GEORGE LAZENBY (007)
|George Lazenby - the worldwide-known one-time James Bond actor turns 74. George played 007 in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) which by several Bond scholars is considered to be the best film in the entire series.
With this page, we (From Sweden With Love) would like to send our personal wishes to the underrated James Bond actor.
"Happy birthday, George, and best of luck with your book!"
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 himself 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 (1969), 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. 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 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, 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.
Lazenby's singular portrayal of the iconic Bond character, and his lack of standing as a favourite in the series has resulted in his name being used as a metaphor for forgettable, non-iconic acting efforts in other entertainment franchises. Referring to the Batman film series, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said "George Clooney is the big zero of the film, and should go down in history as the George Lazenby of the series." (Clooney appeared in Batman and Robin). Actor Paul McGann has described himself with good humour as "the George Lazenby of Doctor Who" because, although he has continued in the role of the Eighth Doctor in other media, he made only one appearance on TV as the Time Lord. In a 2006 episode of The Daily Show, comedian John Oliver suggested that Pope Benedict XVI is the George Lazenby of the papacy, in comparison to "John Paul II's Sean Connery". At one point in Rob Zombie's animated satire comedy The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, for example, the character Otto responds "It was a mistake, like casting George Lazenby as 007!"
In August 2008, it was reported that Lazenby's wife, former tennis player Pam Shriver, had filed for divorce from Lazenby. Documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court cite "irreconcilable differences" for the end of the couple's six-year marriage. The couple has three children, including twins born in 2005.
George Lazenby is currently working on his memoirs, The Other Fella, due for publication in hardcover by Century in May 2013.
MOVIES AND TELEVISION SERIES WITH GEORGE LAZENBY:
Espionage in Tangiers (1966)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Universal Soldier (1971)
Who Saw Her Die? (1972)
The Last Days of Bruce Lee (1973)
Play For Today - The Operation (BBC TV) (1973)
The Shrine of Ultimate Bliss (1974)
The Man from Hong Kong (Alternate title: The Dragon Flies) (1975)
A Queen's Ransom (1976)
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
Bruce Lee, The Legend (1977)
Death Dimension (1978)
Saint Jack (1979)
The Nude Bomb (1980) cameo appearance as James Bond
General Hospital (1982) (TV Series)
The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1983) (TV Movie) as the Bond-like character "JB"
The Master (1984) (TV Series)
Never Too Young to Die (1986)
Superboy (1988) (TV Series) recurring guest role as Jor-El
The Evil Inside (1992)
Emmanuelle's Secret (1998)
Emmanuelle's Heart (1999)
Emmanuelle's Revenge (1992)
Emmanuelle's Perfume (1992)
Emmanuelle's Magic (1992)
Gettysburg (1993) as Confederate Brig. Gen Johnston Pettigrew
YuYu Hakusho: Eizo Hakusho (1993) (voice)
Emmanuelle's Love (1993)
Emmanuelle in Venice (1993)
Emmanuelle Forever (1993)
Batman Beyond (1999) (TV Series) recurring role as King (voice)
Batman Beyond: The Movie (1999) (TV Movie) (voice)
The Pretender (19992000) (TV Series) recurring guest role as the hero Jarod's father Major Charles
Four Dogs Playing Poker (2000)
Spider's Web (2001)
YuYu Hakusho: Ghost Files (2002) (TV Series) (voice)
Winter Break (Alternate title: Sheer Bliss) (2003)
Birthdays for other James Bond actors on From Sweden With Love:
>Daniel Craig (March 2)
>Roger Moore (October 14)
>Sean Connery (August 25)
>Pierce Brosnan (May 16)
>Timothy Dalton (March 21)
For more information about George Lazenby's film career, check out his profile on IMDB: