San Jose Mercury News - Actor Barry Nelson, first on-screen James Bond, dies at 89
LOS ANGELES- Barry Nelson, an MGM contract player during the 1940s who later had a prolific theater career and was the first actor to play James Bond on screen, has died. He was 89.
Nelson died on April 7 while traveling in Bucks County, Pa., his wife, Nansi Nelson, said Friday. The cause of death was not immediately known, she said.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1941, Nelson was spotted by a talent scout and signed to MGM. He appeared in a number of films for the studio in 1942, including "Shadow of the Thin Man," "Johnny Eager" and "Dr. Kildare's Victory." He also landed the leading role in "A Yank on the Burma Road," playing a cab driver who decides to lead a convoy of trucks for the Chinese government.
Nelson entered the Army during World War II and went on the road with other actors performing the wartime play "Winged Victory," which was later made into a movie starring Red Buttons, George Reeves and Nelson.
After the war, Nelson starred in a string of movies, including "Undercover Maisie," "Time to Kill" and "Tenth Avenue Angel."
He is the answer to the trivia question: Who was the first actor to play James Bond? Before Sean Connery was tapped to play the British agent on the big screen in 1962's "Dr. No," Nelson played Bond in a one-hour TV adaptation of "Casino Royale" in 1954.
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