Willard Whyte, aka Jimmy Dean, passes away at 81

Singer Jimmy Dean died on June 13 at the age 81.The Associated Press obiturary for Dean said he passed away at home.

The AP obit goes into detail about Dean’s singing career and business savvy. And there’s this reference:

Dean became a headliner at venues like Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl and became the first country star to play on the Las Vegas strip. He was the first guest host on ”The Tonight Show,” and also was an actor with parts in television and the movies, including the role of James Bond’s ally Willard Whyte in the 1971 film ”Diamonds Are Forever.”

Dean’s role was the result of producer Albert R. Broccoli having a dream that his old friend, reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes, had been replaced but nobody knew about it. Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, taking over after a first draft by Richard Maibaum, built his script around the idea, with Ernst Stavro Blofeld having taken over the busines empire of Mankiewicz’s Willard Whyte character (aided by Bert Saxby, an aide to Whyte). But it was Dean who brought the character to life, which led to one of the highlights in the film:

Financial help for Bond 23?

William Chase

William Chase

A little item in the June 12 UK Telegraph caught our eye. William Chase, who brought the world Tyrrells Potato Chips and the award-winning Chase Vodka, might be playing fairy godfather to the next James Bond movie.

Nobody at Eon Productions is confirming or denying, but the story is that Chase has approached Barbara Broccoli with some sort of offer of financial backing, for the indefinitely-stalled Bond 23. Our thought is that it isn’t Eon that needs help, it’s 007 co-owners MGM, which has been teetering on the brink of oblivion since the 1980s. Still, it’s a comforting thought to think that somebody with the wherewithal to help is stepping up to the plate.

Obviously, this is all in the rumor stage anyhow, but you can read Next Bond film could well have a Chase in it at the Telegraph’s website for yourself.

(Belated) happy birthday to Luciana Paluzzi

June 10 was the birthday of Luciana Paluzzi, who played the femme fatale Fiona Volpe in Thunderball.

In the most recent issue of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, she was the sixth favorite Bond girl in a survey of HMSS editors and ranked as the hottest in that same survey.

Here’s one of the reasons why.

That was in 1965. Nine years later, she’d be reunited with director Terence Young in a movie called The Klansman. It didn’t get very good reviews (and didn’t help the reputations of stars Lee Marvin and Richard Burton), but if you want to check it out, you can CLICK RIGHT HERE.