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Old 04-07-2014
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Default Did You Know: The Hotel Manager from The SHINING was the First Actor to Portray James Bond

Did You Know: The Hotel Manager from The SHINING was the First Actor to Portray James Bond

Television anthologies used to be all the rage, and CBS was one of the first to broadcast their programs in color. The throwback to the old serial storytelling format and eye-popping tones was a combination irresistible to viewers. CBS’ mystery program, the aptly titled "Climax!," was one such program - and the show happened to be the first to portray an iconic movie character on any screen.

James Bond author Ian Fleming was paid $1,000 (albeit, almost nine grand, today) to adapt his first novel, "Casino Royale," into a one-hour TV action-adventure episode that aired live in 1954. Actor Barry Nelson, perhaps looking more like a Marine than a sexy double agent, played “Jimmy” Bond. (Nelson played hotel manager Stuart Ullman in The SHINING.) The role preceded Sean Connery’s famous interpretation by almost a decade. Nelson had a famous co-star, too. Horror icon Peter Lorre starred as villain Le Chiffre, who is based on occultist Aleister Crowley. ("Hannibal’s" Mads Mikkelsen played the character in the 2006 adaptation of Fleming’s novel.)

Nelson was unaware that Bond was supposed to be an Englishman. “At that time, no one had ever heard of James Bond. . . . I was scratching my head wondering how to play it,” the actor said in 2004. “I hadn’t read the book or anything like that because it wasn’t well known. The worst part of it was that I learned it was to be done live. I thought I was finished with live TV. I was trying to get out of it, actually.”

Fleming had no traction with fans at that time, so the episode vanished from their minds. By the early 1960s, Bond was back with a vengeance, and his place in the pop culture landscape was assured. You can own this episode via the 1967 film adaptation of Fleming’s story, or watch it here with us (thanks to Dangerous Minds for spotting it).

SOURCE: Alison Nastasi
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