Bernard Lee

Active - 1933 - 1991  |   Born - Jan 10, 1908 in Brentford, Middlesex, England  |   Died - Jan 16, 1981   |   Genres - Drama, Action, Crime, Comedy, Adventure

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Biography by Hal Erickson

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.

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  • His father was a stage actor, and the two first appeared together in a sketch at the Oxford Music Hall in London in 1914.
  • Served with the Royal Sussex Regiment during World War II until he was discharged in 1946.
  • Passed away before filming his scenes as M in the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only; out of respect, his character was written out of the picture instead of being recast.
  • Grandfather of actor Jonny Lee Miller.