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Bernard Lee (10 January 1908 – 16 January 1981) was a British actor, best known for his role as M in the first eleven James Bond films from 1962 until 1979.

Born in either County Cork, Ireland[2] or Brentford, London[1] on 10th January 1908[1], he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. During the 1930s he acted mostly on stage, but after World War II developed a successful film career, including The Third Man (1949), Beat the Devil (1953), The Battle of the River Plate (1956), Dunkirk (1958) and Whistle Down the Wind (1961).

Bond involvement

In the Bond films, Lee's character, M, is Bond's superior who dispatches him on assignments. Lee, was succeeded in the role by Robert Brown. Judi Dench, a friend of Lee's, would later take over the role of M starting in 1995.

On 16 January 1981, Lee passed away after a battle with cancer.[4] Out of respect, no new actor was hired to take over the role of M in the forthcoming James Bond film For Your Eyes Only as producer Albert R. Broccoli refused to recast the character. Instead the script was rewritten so the character is to be said on leave. In the film, M's lines were transferred to the Minister of Defence, Sir Fredrick Gray and Bill Tanner, M's Chief of Staff.

Bernard Lee starred in eleven James Bond films:

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Parker, John (1981). Who's who in the theatre, volume 1. Bristol: Pitman. ISBN 0-8103-0235-7. p.413.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Lee, Bernard". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  3. Two reliable and independent sources (the British Film Institute (BFI) and John Parker's 1981 reference work Who's Who in the Theatre, Volume 1) have differing locations for Lee's place of birth, with Parker showing London and the BFI listing Cork, stating "Some sources give London as birthplace".
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Spy Chief M Dies". United Press International. 17 January 1981.