This never happened to the other fella! A one off Bond from nobody to star and back again.
Sean Connery’s very public disassociation from the role he had created left as gap that the world couldn’t wait to see who would fill. The honour fell to unknown Australian George Lazenby who won the part because he punched a stuntman by mistake, impressing the producers with this mistimed show of aggression.
I had no idea where I was going when I got into the Bond film. When I became famous I didn’t know how to handle it, so it almost drove me crazy.
Born in 1939, Lazenby had played only bit parts and had appeared in commercials so casting him was a big risk. He was brilliant with the action scenes but less impressive delivering dialogue, lacking the magnetism of Sean Connery and spent a third of the film being dubbed for plot reasons by George Baker. He was supposed to have had a rocky relationship through the making of “Oh Her Majesty’s Secret Service” with co star Diana Rigg though publicly both have denied this, Lazenby has let slip that from time to time there was tension.
She was a serious actress, I was a nobody who suddenly had one of the cherry roles in acting. So you can imagine how someone like her would feel about that.
He was offered a contract for seven movies but, unbelievably, his agent persuaded him that Bond would be anachronistic in the 70s and so Lazenby turned his back on fame and fortune and went quietly back into obscurity. He was married to tennis player Pam Shriver but their marriage ended in 2008 with Lazenby accused of abuse.
Fame is short-lived and you’re the last to know when you are no longer hot. I used to be able to stroll into London clubs like Tramp. But one day I turned up and the doorman blocked my way. Suddenly I was no longer Bond, I was just plain old George Lazenby.
His film career after Bond never really took off though he made appearances in a number of movies, including a planned series of films with Bruce Lee, which alas for Lazenby never happened due to the Kung Fu star’s death. He now lives in retirement in California and has lent his name to anyone who is labelled a “one off wonder”.
Most extraordinary appearance
This is probably going to be in the made for TV movie “Return of the Man from UNCLE” in 1983 where Lazenby plays Bond again, though unnamed for legal reasons being referred to as “J.B.” He makes a cameo appearance assisting Napoleon Solo and looks hardly a day older than in 1969!
- Espionage in Tangiers (1966)
- James Bond Movie – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
- Universal Soldier (1971)
- Who Saw Her Die? (1972)
- Life and Legend of Bruce Lee (1973) (archive footage)
- The Last Days of Bruce Lee (1973)
- The Shrine of Ultimate Bliss (1974)
- The Man from Hong Kong (Alternate title: The Dragon Flies) (1975)
- A Queen’s Ransom (1976)
- The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
- Bruce Lee, The Legend (1977)
- Game of Death (1978) (archive fighting footage)
- Death Dimension (Alternate title: Black Eliminator) (Alternate title: Freeze Bomb) 1978)
- Saint Jack (1979)
- The Nude Bomb (1980)
- Never Too Young to Die (1986)
- The Evil Inside (1992)
- Gettysburg (1993) – as Confederate Brig. Gen Johnston Pettigrew
- YuYu Hakusho: Eizo Hakusho (1993) (voice)
- Four Dogs Playing Poker (2000)
- Spider’s Web (2001)
- Winter Break (Alternate title: Sheer Bliss) (2003)
- Emmanuelle’s Secret (1998)
- Emmanuelle’s Revenge (1992)
- Emmanuelle’s Perfume (1992)
- Emmanuelle’s Magic (1992)
- Emmanuelle’s Love (1993)
- Emmanuelle in Venice (1993)
- Emmanuelle Forever (1993)
- General Hospital (1982) (TV Series)
- The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1983) (TV Movie) – as the Bond-like character “JB”
- The Master (1984) (TV Series)
- Superboy (1988) (TV Series) – recurring guest role as Jor-El
- Batman Beyond (1999) (TV Series) – recurring role as King (voice)
- Batman Beyond: The Movie (1999) (TV Movie) (voice)
- The Pretender (1999–2000) (TV Series) – recurring guest role as the hero Jarod’s father Major Charles
- YuYu Hakusho: Ghost Files (2002) (TV Series) (voice)