He is handsome, tall, drives a fast car, has an unlimited expense account, and always gets the girl. That’s just the actor. The character he portrays also has a license to kill.
James Bond debuted in Ian Fleming’s novel Casino Royale in 1953. The novel was adapted for television in 1954, featuring Barry Nelson as 007. The first Bond movie, Dr No, was released in 1962, starring Sean Connery. David Niven took the lead in a spoof version of Casino Royale in 1967; it is not recognized as part of the Bond franchise. Since Dr No, the equivalent of half the world’s population have seen at least one Bond movie.
Sean Connery starred in seven Bond movies (including the “unofficial” Never Say Never Again in 1983), George Lazenby in one, Roger Moore in seven, and Timothy Dalton in two. Pierce Brosnan was issued his fourth licence to thrill in the 21th Bond movie, Die Another Day. Daniel Craig had his martini shaken, not stirred, in the 22nd Bond movie, a remake of Casino Royale. He kissed the girls in the 23rd (officially 22nd) Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, released in 2008. All the 007 actors are over 1,8 metres (6 feet) tall.
In the first 22 movies, Bond has 23 vodka martinis, 6 of which he orders himself but two of those he never receives. The rest are prepared and brought to him. Most surprisingly, in his 7 appearances as Bond, Sean Connery utters the phrase “shaken, not stirred” only once, in Goldfinger. In Fleming’s novels, Bond drinks gin martinis instead of vodka martinis.
The 007 sign
The Bond character was said to have been based on Dr John Dee, the very first British secret agent. Dee, who lived from 1527 to 1608, was an advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. He was a brilliant mathematician, magician, philosopher, alchemist and astrologer. During his time, England was at war with Spain, and fearing spies, Dee designed the 007 code for his correspondence with the Queen. The 2 zeros indicated “for your eyes only,” and the 7 was a cabalistic, or, cryptic number. Dr Dee was not the only secret agent of the time. Seeing Spain amassing a new vast empire in the “New World” (the Americas), Queen Elizabeth secretly sent the pirate-turned-explorer Englishman Francis Drake (1540-1596) west with the added intent to harass the Spanish. It is known that Dr Dee and Drake actually met to discuss strategies.
However, Fleming explained the creation of Bond: “I extracted the Bond plots from my wartime memories, dolled them up, attached a hero, a villain, and a heroine, and there was the book.”
Ian Fleming (28 May 1908 – 12 Aug 1964) was attached to the British Naval Intelligence Division during World War II. After the war, Fleming purchased a patch of land in Jamaica and built a bungalow on it, calling it Goldeneye. It was here, in his forties, on 14 July 1952 that after three attempts the first words of the first Bond novel were created: “The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.”
The Bond name was simply borrowed from the author of Birds of the West Indies. The character M was modeled on Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence Division (NID), to whom in 1939 Fleming was made personal assistant.
In the novels, James Bond and Q actually never meet. Fleming wrote about Major Boothroyd and the Q branch but never mentioned a character called Q.
Author John Gardner took over the writing of Ian Fleming in 1981 with his first novel License Renewed. Sixteen years later he relinquished the 007 pen to Raymond Benson who debuted with Zero Minus Ten and ending with his last offering called The Man With The Red Tattoo in 2002. Three years on, Charlie Higson was awarded the challenge to depict the teenager Bond in a 1930s setting in a series of 5 Young Bond books, starting with Silverfin.
Places where James Bond made love
In the first 22 movies, Bond is told 35 times that he will die. He doesn’t, of course. What he does, however, is make love 81 times: in a hotel room (20 times), London flat (2), at her place (15), someone else’s place (2), on a train (3), in a barn (2), in a forest (2), in a gypsy tent (2), hospital (3), in a plane (2), in a submarine (1), in a car (1), on a motorized iceberg (1), in, around, under, or by water (25 times). Of the first 62 Bond girls, 31 were brunettes, 25 blonds, and 4 redheads. Women moaned “Oh, James!” 16 times.
Pat: “What exactly do you do?”
Bond: “Oh, I travel… a sort of licensed troubleshooter.”
Bond expert Steve Hadlow contributed to this story. Get the latest 007 news on his Bond site