Friday, April 13, 2007

Barry Nelson, R. I. P.

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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Randy Johnson said...

TNT or TBS ran the Casino Royale show years ago and I watched it. I love springing the trivia question on Bond fans. Right away, most answered Sean Connery to the question.

Anonymous said...

The original Casino Royale -- live TV! -- is quite a mixed bag. 100% American, crew-cut Barry Nelson is kinda disorienting, as is his being called "Jimmy Bond". However, Peter Lorre is in fine villainous form as Le Chiffre, and the torture-interrogation scene is startlingly gruesome.

Art Scott

Benjie said...

I've been looking for years for this original Casino Royale with no success. I'd just like to watch it once. It's one of the few holes in my total Bond experience.