Professor Joe Butcher is a fictional televangelist and front-man for Franz Sanchez's drug smuggling operation. He appears in the 1989 James Bond film Licence to Kill, portrayed by actor Wayne Newton and also appeared in John Gardner's accompanying novelization[1].

Film biography

"Bless your heart!"
― Prof. Joe Butcher[src]

Professor Butcher is an American televangelist who operates the Olympatec Meditation Institute in the Republic of Isthmus; a front organization for drug lord Franz Sanchez's illicit operations. Originally started by Sanchez merely as a cover, he later notes that Professor Joe manages to turn a 'tidy profit' from it.

Butcher's methods would be transmitting messages from Sanchez to his international distributors by code. He would appear on TV asking for donations and announcing a goal. In actuality, the "goal" was Sanchez's asking price for a kilogram of cocaine. The middlemen would respond with an amount signaling how many kilograms they wanted. One distributor wanted 500 kilograms, to which Butcher said that a branch "just sent in $500". It is unknown how Butcher discriminated drug orders from those who legitimately donated to the Meditiation Institute, but he clearly has some method as Sanchez remarked Butcher has had the institute make money even without Sanchez's backing.

During the course of the film, James Bond learns that Sanchez's scheme involves dissolving cocaine in petrol and then selling it to Asian drug dealers (disguised as fuel). The buying and selling are conducted via Butcher. The re-integration process will be available to those underworld clients who can pay Sanchez's price.

After some brief television appearances, Prof. Butcher is seen again as Sanchez takes Bond to his base of operations under the meditation retreat. Out of concern for Bond's safety, Pam Bouvier is also attempting to infiltrate the site and personally approaches Professor Joe. Posing as an eager young fan with a bag full of cash, Bouvier is led to Butcher's 'private meditation chamber' and an attempt is made to seduce her. After declaring that she has another surpise for him, he finds himself staring down the barrel of a Beretta Jetfire. She demands the keys and leaves.

The meditation retreat is subsequently destroyed after Bond starts a fire in the laboratory and Butcher is seen fleeing from the building on foot with Bouvier's bag of cash. Driving past him in a golf buggy, Bouvier snatches the bag from the exhausted televangelist and drives off in pursuit of Sanchez. He was last scene Saying "Bless Your Heart." to Pam Bouvier.

Behind the scenes

License to Kill was one of the few films that did not deal with conspiracies such as SPECTRE or having Cold War themes like the previous three Bond films. Many fans consider it to look at the social problems of the 1980s. While drug abuse was the most prominent, being seen in the main antagonist, other problems were seen in Sanchez's underlings. Colonel Heller had teamed up with Sanchez to avoid being court-martialed by the US military after he was supplying various guerilla forces in Central America while making shady deals with Islamic terrorists, a reference to the Iran-Contra affair. Truman-Lodge was a whiz with the numbers who became Sanchez's accountant after fleeing charges of insider trading in the United States, a reference to the fast buck culture of Wall Street and the crash that came a few years earlier. Joe Butcher represented the televangelist scandals, as well as civil rights groups that started to come under fire in the 1980s for making baseless and fraudulent accusations of "racists behinds every bush" to make a fast buck frightening people in making donations.



  1. Gardner, John (2012). Licence to Kill. Orion. ISBN 978-1409135760.

See also