Born into a theatrical family, British actor Bernard Lee first trod the boards at age six. Supporting himself as a fruit salesman, Lee attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, making his West End stage bow in 1928. In films from 1934, Lee showed up in dozens of bits and minor roles, his screen time increasing throughout the 1950s. He showed up prominently as the resident police inspector in several of the "Edgar Wallace" "B"-picture series of the early 1960s. In 1962, Lee was cast as M, the immediate superior to Secret Agent 007 James Bond, in Dr. No. Bernard Lee continued to portray M in all subsequent Bond endeavors, up to and including 1979's Moonraker; he also essayed the role in the 1967 Bond spin-off, Operation Kid Brother, which starred Sean Connery's younger brother Neil.
photo credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment
by Hal Erickson biography