Joseph Wiseman, the Canadian-born actor best known for his deliciously evil portrayal of the James Bond villain, Dr. No, passed away yesterday at age 91. Wiseman appeared in a slew of Broadway productions, television shows, and movies such as Viva Zapata! with Marlon Brando and The Unforgiven with Burt Lancaster. But he will always be remembered for locking horns with Sean Connery’s agent 007 in 1962’s Dr. No. Wiseman’s character, a mad scientist with an arsenal of fiendishly wry quips, a charter membership in SPECTRE, and a nasty atomic-powered radio-beam weapon, became the prototypical Bond villain. Later in his life, the reclusive actor said of his most famous role: “I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I had no idea it would achieve the success that it did. I know nothing about mysteries. I don’t take to them. As far as I was concerned, I thought it might be just another Grade-B Charlie Chan mystery.” How wrong he was.
It’s hard to imagine what the subsequent 007 movies would have looked like without his invention of the Bond baddie archetype. But we suspect they wouldn’t have been nearly as enduring or indelible. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at this clip from the film where Connery (in a sweet Nehru jacket) and Ursula Andress’ foxy Honey Rider square off with Dr. No in his groovy island lair.
Was Dr. No your favorite Bond villain PopWatchers? What are some of Wiseman’s most moments?