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Bernard Lee Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (15)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 10 January 1908Brentford, Middlesex, England, UK
Date of Death 16 January 1981Hampstead, London, England, UK  (stomach cancer)
Birth NameJohn Bernard Lee
Height 6' 0½" (1.84 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Best remembered as 'M' in the James Bond films, Bernard Lee was a popular character player in British films throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Born into a theatrical family, he made his stage debut at age six and later attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He first appeared on the West End stage in London in 1928, and continued to work in the theatre during the 1930s, taking only occasional film roles.

It was only after World War II that he concentrated his efforts on the cinema, and was much in demand in British films of the 1950s as friendly authority figures, including army sergeants, police detectives or navy officers. Detectives became a particular specialty, and he played this role in more than a dozen films, including The Blue Lamp (1950), Beat the Devil (1953) and The Detective (1954). In the early 1960s, he also made regular appearances as police detectives in the The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre (1960) second feature series, usually as "Inspector Meredith". He also made memorable appearances in The Third Man (1949), Operation Disaster (1950), Glory at Sea (1952), Pursuit of the Graf Spee (1956), Dunkirk (1958) and Whistle Down the Wind (1961).

He was effectively cast against type in only two films, as the union agitator in The Angry Silence (1960), and as a disgruntled civil servant who becomes a spy for the Russians in Ring of Treason (1964).

In 1962, he made his first appearance as the head of the British secret service in the first James Bond film, Dr. No (1962). He went on to be featured in the next ten films in the series, appearing with Sean Connery, George Lazenby and, later, Roger Moore as Bond, and will probably be considered the definitive "M" by more than one generation of Bond fans.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jeff Watts <jeffwattsuk@yahoo.co.uk>

Spouse (2)

Ursula G. McHale (1975 - 16 January 1981) (his death)
Gladys Emily Merredew (1934 - 1972) (her death) (1 child)

Trivia (15)

Grandfather of Jonny Lee Miller
Most famous for playing 'M' in the first 11 James Bond films.
He worked as a fruit porter to fund his drama studies.
A portrait of him (in the character of "M") can be seen briefly in the background of the MI6 castle in the 007 film The World Is Not Enough (1999).
He was notorious for enjoying a drink, but never let this affect his work. During filming of The Third Man (1949), Lee went missing and the director sent crew to trawl the local bars to find him.
While making On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), George Lazenby, who portrayed Bond in the film, was fooling around on horseback and caused Lee to fall into a fence and tear his leg open. As no doctor was available, the local vet stitched the gash up.
He was seriously ill during the filming of Live and Let Die (1973), causing the producers to consider replacing him with Kenneth More. However Lee recovered sufficiently to play the character M until Moonraker (1979), the last Bond film made before his death from stomach cancer in 1981.
He and Desmond Llewelyn were the only actors in the James Bond series who never retired or were fired from their roles. Their respective roles of M and Q were only recast because of their deaths.
Was preparing to reprise the role of "M" in For Your Eyes Only (1981) at the time of his death. As a sign of respect, the script was changed to say that "M" was on leave, rather than recast the role with another actor (which did not occur until Octopussy (1983) in 1983), and scenes originally meant to include "M" were rewritten with other characters, such as "Q" for the confession booth meeting with James Bond (Roger Moore).
After losing his wife Gladys in a house fire and most of his money in a mugging, he became suicidally depressed and took to drinking. By chance, he met Richard Burton in a pub shortly thereafter. After hearing of his troubles, Burton wrote Lee a check for $6,000 on the spot. Lee snapped out of his depression, cleared his debts, remarried and continued working up till his death in 1981.
He worked with Christopher Lee in Pursuit of the Graf Spee (1956), Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) while his grandson Jonny Lee Miller worked with him in Dark Shadows (2012).
He appeared in ten films with Geoffrey Keen: The New Lot (1943), The Fallen Idol (1948), The Third Man (1949), The Spanish Gardener (1956), Nowhere to Go (1958), Web of Evidence (1959), Sink the Bismarck! (1960), The Angry Silence (1960), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).
He appeared in three films with Robert Brown, his eventual successor as M: The Third Man (1949), Sink the Bismarck! (1960) and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Coincidentally, Geoffrey Keen appeared in all three films.

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