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Sean Connery speaks in 1983 about taking the James Bond role
James Bond has done everything from going into space, infiltrating enemies in an alligator submarine and taking part in Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations. In his various adventures, he has been played by different actors, with the character reincarnating every few years. When it comes to who was the original James Bond, the answer is not so simple.
Who was the original James Bond?
The answer to this question is complicated and based on one’s view of the franchise as a whole.
The first Eon film adaptation of a James Bond book, which was produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli, known as Cubby Broccoli, was Dr No.
Dr No was released in 1962 and had the then fairly unknown Scottish star Sir Sean Connery in the leading role.
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As this was the first Eon movie, which is considered to be the official James Bond canon, it would make sense for Sir Sean to be the original James Bond.
However, there were other visual and audio versions of the Bond books made years before this, which had a different man in that role.
One of these was the CBS TV series of Casino Royale, which was screened only a year after the original book by Ian Fleming was released.
The live TV adaptation was broadcast in 1954 as part of the Climax! drama anthology series, and starred American actor Barry Nelson in the leading role.
While this is not part of the official canon, it marks the first on-screen appearance of James Bond, however different Barry’s version may have been to the 007 we know today.
Given the show was broadcast on American TV, it was made to suit an American audience, meaning Barry played an American spy working for the CIA rather than the MI6 version we see in later versions, and the original books.
As well as this, he was not referred to as Bond, James Bond, or anything similar, and was instead called ‘Jimmy’ by his friends.
But along with Connery and Nelson, some experts say there may have been a real life agent who could be the original Bond.
Ian Fleming, the author of the Bond books, worked in intelligence during the Second World War and is believed to have come across a rather extraordinary character.
Sophie Jackson, a historian, revealed Ian had some contact with an agent known as White Rabbit, who went on many dangerous and exciting missions during his time in the war.
White Rabbit, AKA Wing Commander Forest Frederick Edward Yeo-Thomas, known as Tommy, did several dangerous missions, reportedly escapes from a concentration camp, infiltrated Nazi-occupied France multiple times and even had direct contact with Winston Churchill.
Sophie found a letter from Ian to colleagues about this agent, believing he was the true ‘original’ Bond.
She told Business Insider: “It shows that Fleming was interested in the case of Yeo-Thomas and had been following it. Fleming picked up the story and was interested in it.
“On top of that, there are other significant parallels between Yeo-Thomas and Bond, in their personal life, their relationships with women and attitudes towards women and the way Yeo-Thomas acted as a secret agent.
“He acts in a way we think of fictional spies acting.
“Some of the sequences that Yeo-Thomas went through are things which are then portrayed in James Bond. And these were experiences that Fleming knew about.”
While the real life inspiration could be the ‘original’ Bond, Ian’s time working in intelligence and his incredible way with words, which showed how sophisticated and debonair he was, could also show how Ian took parts of himself and turned them into the character.
As a result, it may be that Ian is the original Bond as well.
However, while all these Bonds may be inspirations or versions we enjoy, Sir Sean, with the help of the Broccolis, has truly turned this franchise into something millions know and love.
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