Classic Bond: George Lazenby cover

Classic Bond: George Lazenby

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George Lazenby, the forgotten Bond, went from being a car salesman and male model to win the most coveted role in Hollywood with absolutely zero acting credits.





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Classic Bond: George Lazenby

The Forgotten Bond

George Lazenby, the forgotten Bond, went from being a car salesman and male model to win the most coveted role in Hollywood with absolutely zero acting credits.

He conned, schmoozed, kicked and scratched his way onto the set as Sean Connery’s successor in 1969’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.’

Then he self-destructed just as quickly, his career exploding in a firestorm of arrogance and egotism that left him as little more than a footnote in the history of the storied 007 franchise.

A Salesmen

Public Domain

A Salesmen

Born in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia, on September 5, 1939, Lazenby went to the United Kingdom in the early 1960s to sell high-end cars in London’s Park Lane.

The Big Fry Man

With his muscular build and swarthy good looks, he was spotted by a talent scout and persuaded to sign up as a model, becoming known as the “Big Fry Man” in a nationwide chocolate commercial.

Despite his non-existent acting resume, Lazenby soon became convinced he could win the Bond part when Connery hung up his Walther PPK after ‘You Only Live Twice.’

Everything Or Nothing

He left nothing to chance.

In ‘Everything or Nothing; The Untold Story of 007,’ a documentary about the Bond films, Lazenby admits: “I had nothing on my mind, night and day, except getting that job.

I wasn’t an actor, I wanted that job though.”

He bought a Rolex watch like the one Bond wore, he got hold of a Savile Row suit originally tailored for Connery and even started going to the Scots actor’s barber to get the same cut.

Then he sat in the reception of EON Productions in London, where Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli worked.

Looking For Bond

Public Domain

Looking For Bond

When the receptionist’s back was turned he dashed past her and into Saltzman’s office where he said calmly: “I hear you’re looking for James Bond.”

A Leap Of Faith

Asked about his acting experience Lazenby reeled off a list of countries where he claimed to have worked – Germany, Russia, Hong Kong and Czechoslovakia among them – knowing that in the days long before the Internet it would be difficult to check up on him.

The remarkable ruse worked.

He was packed off on an exhausting series of tests to prove he had what it took to play Bond. When he got so carried away he ended up slugging a stunt man in the face he was told he’d got the job ahead of 413 other contenders.

Difficult Times

The movie, in which Bond actually weds his leading lady (Diana Rigg) only for her to be killed by SPECTRE agents on the way to their honeymoon, was lambasted by the critics at the time and the poor box office – about half of the previous Connery Bond film – virtually signed Lazenby’s death warrant as 007.

But he wasn’t doing himself any favors. The instant fame went right to his head or, as he would put it later, “the monster side” came out to ensure his fall was as spectacular as his rise to stardom.

The Hippie Movement

Image by Luigi Novi (CC BY 3.0)

The Hippie Movement

After going to such lengths to mirror Bond’s clean-cut look, he turned up at the premiere with shaggy hair and a full beard and started spouting about the hippie movement and making love not war, something of an anathema to the loyal Bond audience.

Letting Him Go

“They let me go,” said Lazenby later. “”I’d blown my shot at being a big, famous movie star.”

The Aussie’s acting career never came close to reaching such heights again although OHMSS was generally believed to have gotten an overly harsh ride from the critics and now ranks as the favorite Bond movie for many fans, ‘Dark Knight’ director Christopher Nolan among them.

As for Lazenby, he ended up on the daytime soap, ‘General Hospital.’