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In Memoriam of the Supporting Bond Artists who left us in 2020

By: Steve Oxenrider
Published:
2020-12-28
Steve Oxenrider John McLaughlin
It seems inconceivable that we would see the passing of Bond icons Honor Blackman, Peter Lamont, Diana Rigg and Sean Connery all within one year. But then 2020 was an extraordinary year in many ways. There were smaller supporting players that might have slipped by unnoticed but they all made indelible contributions to 007 cinema history. They are always there for us on repeated viewings of our favorite Bond films. They had friends, family and fans that adored them and deserve an encore recognition.

Alan Harris, age 81 - ‘Q’ Workshop Technician in The Living Daylights (1987)


Alan Harris was perhaps most popular with fans of the Doctor Who TV series and for his uncredited work in four Star Wars films. He served as the Harrison Ford body double for the plaster cast mould of Han Solo in carbonite in The Empire Strikes Back. Harris got one of the biggest laughs with his demonstration of ‘Q’s rocket-firing ghetto blaster in The Living Daylights. Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited the Pinewood set the day the scene was filmed. Though not verified, IMDB also credits Harris as a technician in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).

Alan Harris in The Living Daylights
Alan Harris as ‘Q’ Workshop Technician in The Living Daylights. Copyright © 1987 Danjaq S.A. & MGM/United Artists Pictures.

Vincent Marzello, 68 - U.S.S. Wayne Crewman in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Culpepper in Never Say Never Again (1983)


A British-based actor, Vincent Marzello was born in New York and was married to Notting Hill actress Lorelei King at the time of his death. His films included Superman, The Witches, Velvet Goldmine and late in his career voiced the character of Farmer Pickles in the children’s animated British television series Bob the Builder from 2005-2016.

Actor Vincent Marzello
Actor Vincent Marzello (1951-2020).

John McLaughlin, 93 - Stunt performer/double, underwater engineer on 10 Bond films


John McLaughlin’s standout screen job was underwater stunt double for Italian actor Adolfo Celi in Thunderball (1965). But ‘Big John’ was involved with Bond from the beginning, with Dr. No in 1962 and continuing through Licence To Kill in 1989. He worked water safety at Dr. No's bauxite docks in Jamaica, appeared in Goldfinger’s Fontainebleau crowd scene, did two months of underwater filming on Thunderball, was torpedoed from M’s submarine, built holding pens for Kananga’s sharks, helped rig Stromberg’s Atlantis, manoeuvred the Lotus Esprit and sunbathed a python in Moonraker (1979). Beyond Bond, McLaughlin contributed his aquatic talents to such features as Sea Hunt, PT 109, Flipper, Cocoon, Legend and Into the Blue.

John McLaughlin with Atlantis model for The Spy Who Loved Me
John McLaughlin with Atlantis model for The Spy Who Loved Me. Copyright © 1977 Danjaq S.A. & MGM/United Artists Pictures.

Louis Mahoney, 81 - Fillet of Soul Harlem patron in Live and Let Die (1973)


The Gambian-born actor Louis Mahoney, an anti-racist activist who fought for equity in the acting profession, is often hailed as “Britain’s first black film star”. Like fellow black actor Earl Cameron, Mahoney was a pioneer who appeared regularly on the early days of British television. His work included Z Cars, Doctor Who, Fawlty Towers, The Final Conflict, Being Human and Captain Phillips. Cameron and Mahoney both appeared in Guns at Batasi (1964) and died just days apart in June/July 2020. Mahoney has a fleeting but impressive cameo appearance as a tall leather-jacketed patron in the Fillet of Soul Harlem. The character was listed as ‘Barra’ in his talent agency credentials.

Louis Mahoney in Live and Let Die (1973)
Louis Mahoney in Live and Let Die (1973). Copyright © 1973 Danjaq S.A. & MGM/United Artists Pictures.

Aleta Morrison, 88 - Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus Squadron Leader in Goldfinger (1964)


Aleta Morrison had the role of ‘Denise’ the squadron leader of Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus. Aleta was a talented actress and dancer gifted with long legs. She appeared in Moulin Rouge (1952), a 1966 The Avengers tv episode and Half a Sixpence (1967). She once auditioned with legendary American actor-dancer Gene Kelly but instantly realized she wouldn’t get the job because she was “several feet taller than him!” For many years after seeing Goldfinger, Aleta’s young son thought his mum really could fly airplanes.

Aleta Morrison in Goldfinger
Aleta Morrison in Goldfinger. Copyright © 1964 Danjaq S.A. & United Artists Corporation.

Shere Hite, 77 - Diamonds Are Forever poster design model


Shere Hite was American-born and later became a German sexuality scholar and feminist. She was best known for writing the 1976 Hite Report on female sexuality. Early in her career she posed nude for Playboy magazine and with illustrator Robert McGinnis as a model for the Diamonds Are Forever poster.

Shere Hite models for Diamonds Are Forever poster
Shere Hite models for Diamonds Are Forever poster. Copyright © 1971 Danjaq S.A. & MGM/United Artists Pictures.

Alan Tomkins, 81 - Art Director on six Bond Films


Beloved by fan convention attendees and fellow technical crew at Pinewood Studios, Alan Tomkins got his start as chief draughtsman on Dr. No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963). His association with Bond continued on to Casino Royale in 2006. His film credits include 2001: A Space Odyssey, Saving Private Ryan and Batman Begins. In 2015 he wrote Stars and Wars: The Film Memoirs and Photographs of Alan Tomkins. He was the most proud of his Oscar nomination for The Empire Strikes Back in 1978.

Art Director Alan Tomkins and some friends from Star Wars
The Oscar-nominated art director Alan Tomkins with some friends from Star Wars. Photo courtesy of Elstree Screen Heritage. All rights reserved.

Geoffrey Palmer, 93 - Admiral Roebuck in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)


One of the most instantly recognizable British actors, Geoffrey Palmer appeared in over 200 films and television programs. He and Judi Dench were close friends and frequent co-stars for almost 30 years. In addition to Tomorrow Never Dies they starred together in Mrs. Brown the same year and paired years earlier in the popular tv sitcom As Time Goes By from 1992-2005. In tribute, Dench told Radio Times, “Geoffers was a terrific man and most remarkable friend and actor. I wouldn’t have missed a moment of our time together for the world.”

Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer in Tomorrow Never Dies
Geoffrey Palmer as Admiral Roebuck and Judi Dench as M in Tomorrow Never Dies. Copyright © 1997 Danjaq LLC. & United Artists Pictures. An MGM Company.

Philip Voss, 84 - Auctioneer in Octopussy (1983)


A commanding theatre actor, Philip Voss played dozens of major roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His prolific television career began with the first season of Doctor Who in 1963 and his last role was in the sitcom Vicious in 2016. Movie roles included Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Clockwise and Four Weddings and a Funeral. His Octopussy scene was filmed in three days at Pinewood and he has admitted to signing more than 1,000 autographs as the auctioneer. He died of cancer and complications from Covid-19.

Philip Voss as the Sotheby's auctioneer in Octopussy
Philip Voss as the Sotheby's auctioneer in Octopussy. Copyright © 1983 Danjaq S.A. & MGM/United Artists Pictures.

Rafer Johnson, 86 - DEA agent Mullens in Licence to Kill (1989)


Rafer Johnson was a UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) basketball star and an American decathlon winner who earned the silver medal at the Melbourne Olympic Games 1956 and the gold medal at the Rome 1960 Games. Johnson appeared in several films and tv programs, notably The Sins of Rachel Cade, Wild in the Country, Dragnet 1967, several Tarzan adventures and The Six Million Dollar Man. He supported close friend Robert F. Kennedy in his U.S. Presidential bid campaign in 1968 and also helped subdue Kennedy’s assassin. Bond co-star Grand L. Bush said of Johnson, “An American Hero, icon and bears a legacy we should all aspire to. It was my honor to work alongside Mr. Johnson in Licence to Kill - something I will treasure and never forget. Rest In Peace, my brother.”

Grand L. Bush and Rafer Johnson in Licence to Kill
Grand L. Bush and Rafer Johnson in Licence to Kill. Copyright © 1989 Danjaq S.A. & United Artists Pictures Limited.

All text. Copyright © 2020 Steve Oxenrider. All rights reserved.

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