Website last updated: 17-7-2024

In Memoriam of British actor Donald Pleasence (1919-1995)

By: Steven Jay Rubin
Donald Pleasence, Ernst Stavro Blofeld
The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia presents This Day in James Bond History - remembering the late character actor Donald Pleasence on the anniversary of his birth in 1919. Pleasence was the first actor to play SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld on camera – outfitted with a creepy facial scar, and delivering an understated performance in the process.

He was actually a last minute replacement. The original Blofeld, Czech actor Jan Werich fell ill during the production and had to be replaced.

When Bond (Sean Connery) finally meets Blofeld in person at the secret rocket base, Blofeld is surprised that Bond is alive. “They told me you were assassinated in Hong Kong.” Answers 007, “Yes, this is my second life.” To which Blofeld replies, “You only live twice, Mr. Bond.”

Although Donald Pleasence had been a busy performer in England for years, American film audiences first really noticed him as the gentle air reconnaissance officer and camp forger in director John Sturges’s seminal World War II adventure, The Great Escape (1963). Pleasence as useful on that film – he had been an actual prisoner of the Germans in another POW camp during the war. After his stint as Blofeld, Pleasence achieved even more notoriety as intrepid Dr. Loomis – forever chasing madman murderer Michael Myers in the Halloween films.

So this being Blofeld week in the world of 007 – let’s hoist one to a wonderful actor and the small but memorable space he carved in James Bond country.

All text. Copyright © 2020 Steven Jay Rubin. All rights reserved.



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