Published at: Oct. 22, 2009, 12:39 a.m. CST by headgeek
Hey folks, Harry here... Today's been a crazy day, waking up early for FANTASTIC MR FOX, then a full day of prepping for our annual Halloween Blow-out next week. When I got home at last about 45 minutes ago I discovered that Joseph Wiseman, the man who played James Bond's first villain... DR. NO ...has passed on.
Now I have to confess... I had never looked Joseph Wiseman up before. DR. NO - I've seen it maybe 20 times in my life, but I was always taken by Sean Connery and Ursula Andress. I like the character, but it never appealed to me nearly as much as the other villains in Bond's history.
But today, upon finding out about his death, I decided to look Wiseman up. Turns out he was born in 1918, making him 91 years old at his death. He began work in 1950 on the film WITH THESE HANDS, directed by Jack Arnold (who directed so many awesome B-SciFi films like CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON) - but he also had significant parts in DETECTIVE STORY, VIVA ZAPATA!, the 1952 LES MISERABLES. He played opposite Paul Newman in THE SILVER CHALICE. He also appeared in John Huston's criminally underrated film, THE UNFORGIVEN with Burt Lancaster & Audrey Hepburn. As I read his credits, I began flashing to the characters he played... like the awesome gangster in STILETTO - a fun little crime flick from 1969.
But... it was what he did in 1979 that blew my fucking mind. I had no idea at all that DR. NO was DRACO in Gil Gerard and Erin Gray's BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY! Really? Princess Ardala's "Daddy"? Emperor of the known universe? Henry Silva's boss? Really? How awesome is that?
Joseph Wiseman populated an endless variety of TV shows, throughout his career and at the end of the day he was a chameleon throughout his career - just playing the part written for him. He wasn't a STAR, he was a character actor... one of those Actors that never got awards or great recognition for his work. For most of us, he'll always be DR. NO. A film that ultimately he didn't greatly consider.
On behalf of Bond fans everywhere - he'll be missed. His wife died earlier this year, so let's hope he's building a radioactive nightmare in Heaven that threatens the existence of Paradise... So we can all witness Sean Connery deactivate it in 200 years when Connery goes... thus making Heaven safe for nude cherubs everywhere!