Happy 91st birthday, Jack Lord

The first screen Felix Leiter, Jack Lord, would be 91 years old if he were alive today. The Leiter character wasn’t in the Dr. No novel by Ian Fleming but he ended up in the 1962 film version scripted by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood and Berkely Mather. When approached about reprising the role in Goldfinger, he famously demanded billing on par with Sean Connery and was refused.

007 fans wonder why Lord would have done that, but let’s face it: being Felix in a Bond movie isn’t going to get you much screen time and probably isn’t going to help your career that much. A few years later, five days before filming was to begin on the pilot, Lord was cast as lawman Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O, whose lead character dabbled in spy storylines. Here he is on The Mike Douglas Show during the show’s first season, 1968-69:

And here are the opening credits of the 11th season Five-O episode The Year of the Horse, where former Bond George Lazenby was “special guest star.” (No Lazenby in the clip but you do see his billing). McGarrett even flies to Singpore on Pan Am, the airline of choice in the Bond movies up to this time (United was the normal airline shown on series episoes):

Happy 100th, Cubby Broccoli

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of James Bond producer Albert Romolo “Cubby” Broccoli.

Broccoli’s life, as has been chronicled in various media, was not one of fast, or easy, success. He was a salesman of everything from Christmas trees to coffins. Eventually, he got into show business and began to have an impact as a producer after World War II in partnership with Irving Allen by making movies in the U.K.

As Bond fans know, that partnership would eventually dissolve and one major point of disagreement was Ian Fleming’s 007 series of novels, which Broccoli very much wanted to make and Allen didn’t. Allen later saw the error in his ways and eventually got into the 1960s spy game himself.

There’s a tendency to either elevate Broccoli to a kind of sainthood or trash him. He made his share of mistakes or questionable decisions, like passing over Julie Christie because of her breast size. On the other hand, he saved the title song for Diamonds Are Forever when then-partner Harry Saltzman wanted to junk it. And Broccoli’s instincts spurred the Goldfinger creative crew to take viewers inside Fort Knox, where Fleming’s novel did not.

The 47-year-old (and counting) Bond series of films that bears his name is the bottom line of his life’s work. In 1977, during an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show, (Roger Moore was the co-host) Broccoli correctly predicted Bond would be around long after “I’m gone.”