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Prince of a fellow: Remembering Count Prince Miller 1934-2018

By: Steve Oxenrider
Count Prince Miller Dr No
FSWL contributor Steve Oxenrider remembers Jamaican music artist Count Prince Miller who had a small role in the first James Bond film, Dr. No (1962). Count Prince Miller sadly passed away on 16th August 2018 aged 84. Our thoughts goes to his family and friends.

“That is me big time in Dr. No!” the late Count Prince Miller said of his brief appearance in the first James Bond film adventure. Movie goers often are amused at the frenzied dancer with rolling eyes and huge mouth at Puss-feller’s nightclub. Little did most audiences know that at the time in the early 1960s Prince was one of the biggest Jamaican musicians and entertainers in the Caribbean. He was so well regarded that Prince claimed “in Puerto Rico they put my name on the Dr. No poster outside the theater.” It was at the suggestion of record producer and production assistant Chris Blackwell that they cast Miller in the nightclub scene.

Count Prince Miller in Dr No
A DVD capture of Count Prince Miller in the 1962 James Bond film Dr. No. © 1962 Danjaq S.A. & United Artists Corporation.

Prince was born in Jamaica on 30th March 1934 but based in Britain. His career began in Jamaica as a stage performer, then he later recorded a number of reggae songs and shared billing at the Jamaica Hilton with such notables as Ray Charles, Chubby Checker and Chuck Berry. In 1964 he declined an offer to tour with Byron Lee & The Dragonaires (the band that appears in Dr. No) and instead joined the soul band Jimmy James & the Vagabonds and moved to England. Prince was selected to compere the Caribbean Music Festival in Wembley in 1969, the first major reggae music event in Britain. A recording of Mule Train in 1971 was Miller’s biggest hit and would become his signature song. He continued to make singles and emcee shows featuring Jamaican artists visiting Britain, including Bob Marley & The Wailers.

Count Prince Miller in 1962
Count Prince Miller pictured in 1962.

Count Prince Miller in 1966
Count Prince Miller pictured in 1966.

As an actor Prince gained popularity with the role of Vince in the British television sitcom Desmond’s, which ran from 1989 to 1994. In addition to Dr. No, he also had roles in Blake’s 7, The Bill, What a Girl Wants and more recently as an elderly patient in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. For over 50 years he was an integral part of the United Kingdom’s West Indian community. In 2007 he was awarded the Commander of the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government for his musical contributions and in 2012 recognized for his achievements at the Friends of the Caribbean Charity Ball. He was captured in the documentary A Nation Is Born and appeared as both narrator and Marcus Harvey in the acclaimed JD Douglas production of JA Story-The History of Jamaica Musical.

I had the good fortune to locate and interview Prince in 2102, coincidental with both the 50th anniversary of Dr. No’s release as well as Jamaica’s Golden Jubilee of 50 years of independence from British rule. He had just recorded the appropriately titled video ‘Jamaica’ in honor of the celebration. Along with playwright JD Douglas, we had lunch at the famed Caribbean Scene restaurant in London. Prince was humble, humorous and gracious and intrigued us with his recollections of filming Dr. No. He recalled that due to his antics during the nighttime filming at Morgan’s Harbour open-air bar in Port Royale, Kingston “they had to tape the scene a couple of times because when they saw what I was doing, they were all knocking down with laughter.” Prince also remembered lying on the beach watching as cameras caught Ursula Andress rising from the sea. And of the key players he fondly spoke of John Kitzmiller “because his name was Miller like mine. He was a quiet man. I saw Sean Connery every day. He was a good actor because he was taking the direction from Terence Young, a good director of the James Bond films.”

Steve Oxenrider with Count Prince Miller in London 2012
Steve Oxenrider and Count Prince Miller enjoying a Red Stripe at Caribbean Restaurant in London.

Funeral services were held for Prince on 4th September 2018 in Kensington, London. Dozens of musicians, members of the entertainment industry and West Indian community were in attendance to bid farewell to the musical pioneer and actor. His cremated remains will be interred in Jamaica.

Editor's Note
Read more about Count Prince Miller and other Dr. No Jamaican talents in the Cinema Retro Dr. No Tribute Issue.

For a list of Count Prince Miller's work on film and television, visit his IMDB page.



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