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George Lazenby (1939)

George Robert Lazenby

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  Summary  

George Robert Lazenby is an Australian actor and former model, best known for portraying James Bond in the 1969 film On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

  Biography  

 early life
Lazenby was born in Goulburn, New South Wales, at Ovada Private Hospital, to railway worker George Edward Lazenby and Sheila Joan Lazenby (née Bodel), who worked at Fosseys. He went to Bourke Street School in his primary years, and Goulburn High until either 1953 or 1954. The young Lazenby was fond of guns, knives, and riding bikes, and is described by those who went to school with him as "a bit of a larrikin." His sister, Barbara, was an accomplished dancer. When he was about 14 or 15 he moved with his family from Goulburn to Queanbeyan, where he worked as a car salesman, mechanic and model before moving to England.

 career
 James Bond
In 1968, after Sean Connery quit the role of James Bond, and 22-year-old actor Timothy Dalton declined the role in On Her Majesty's Secret Service , believing himself too young for it, producer Albert R. Broccoli chose Lazenby after seeing him in a commercial. Lazenby dressed the part by sporting several sartorial Bond elements such as a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and a Savile Row suit . Broccoli offered him an audition. The position was consolidated when Lazenby accidentally punched a professional wrestler, who was acting as stunt coordinator, in the face, impressing Broccoli with his ability to display aggression. Lazenby won the role based on a screen-test fight scene, the strength of his interviews, fight skills and audition footage.

During the production of the film, Lazenby's voice was dubbed over with George Baker's in scenes in which Bond impersonated Sir Hilary Bray (Baker's character), something not traditionally done with a leading actor whose original language is English. According to an interview, Lazenby experienced difficulties on the set stemming from director Peter R. Hunt's refusal to speak directly with him, and Hunt's brusqueness in asking Lazenby's friends to clear the set before filming.

At the time of the release of OHMSS, Lazenby's performance received mixed reviews. Some felt that, while he was physically convincing, some of his costumes were inappropriate ("too loud" according to some) and that he delivered his lines poorly. Others, however, have developed differing views in the decades since the film. In the 1998 book The Essential James Bond, Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrell write: "Although OHMSS was routinely dismissed by critics who cited Lazenby as a brave but disappointing successor to Connery, the intervening years have been notably kinder to both the film and its star. Indeed, due in no small part to Peter Hunt's inspired direction, OHMSS generally ranks among the top films with fans. Likewise, Lazenby has emerged as a very popular contributor to the series and has enjoyed large enthusiastic audiences during his appearances at Bond related events. In summary, OHMSS is a brilliant thriller in its own right and justifiably ranks amongst the best Bond films ever made".

In Roger Moore's commentary for a 2007 DVD release of The Man with the Golden Gun, he referenced George Lazenby as follows : "I have a great deal of e-mail contact with George Lazenby; he's sort of on the joke circuit ... that we simply send jokes to each other. OHMSS – very well made film – Peter Hunt – excellent, excellent, excellent fight stuff, excellent snow effects ... but I think the end result for George was that it was one of the better Bonds".

In the pre-title sequence of OHMSS, Lazenby comments: "This never happened to the other fellow", an in-joke referring to his predecessor Sean Connery, which has been interpreted by some film critics as breaking the fourth wall.

Although Lazenby had been offered a contract for seven movies, his agent, Ronan O'Rahilly, convinced him that the secret agent would be archaic in the liberated 1970s, and as a result he left the series after the release of On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969. After this role Lazenby began to study drama at Durham University's College of the Venerable Bede. Lazenby has portrayed James Bond several times over the years in numerous parodies and unofficial 007 roles, most notably the 1983 TV movie The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and an episode of The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents, entitled "Diamonds Aren't Forever".

 Other work
Lazenby has portrayed The Marlboro Man in cigarette advertising.

Despite starring in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and 1977's The Kentucky Fried Movie (the combined gross earnings of which exceeded $100 million worldwide in the 1970s, then the standard establishing an actor as a box office success), Lazenby's acting career did not flourish. One notable TV role came in the BBC's Play For Today series in 1973, with Lazenby starring in Roger Smith's The Operation.

In 1973, Lazenby was set to work in Hong Kong with Bruce Lee. A planned meeting with Lee and Raymond Chow to discuss a movie project for the Golden Harvest film Game of Death collapsed after Lee's sudden death, although Lazenby would still go on to make three of the four films he signed to do with Lee in Hong Kong, The Shrine of Ultimate Bliss , The Man from Hong Kong , and A Queen's Ransom . Lazenby was only featured with archive footage when Game of Death was finally released in 1978, after a five-year delay caused by Lee's death while it was still in production.

Lazenby also made a guest appearance on the popular TV series Superboy, playing Jor-El, Superboy's biological father, during the show's second season in 1990. He appeared with Sylvia Kristel in several new Emmanuelle films in the 1990s, many of which appeared on cable TV.

Lazenby's autobiography, The Other Fella, is scheduled to be released in hardcover by Century in 2012, the year of James Bond's 50th feature film anniversary, and in paperback by Arrow in 2013.

 personal life
In August 2008, it was reported that Lazenby's wife, former tennis player Pam Shriver, had filed for divorce from Lazenby. Documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court cite "irreconcilable differences" for the end of the couple's six-year marriage. The couple has three children, including twins born in 2005.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "George Lazenby", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.