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'Dr. No' Dies

Adam Bernstein

The stage actor Joseph Wiseman, who died Monday at 91, had an acclaimed career on Broadway and was a memorable supporting actor in films such as "Detective Story," "Viva Zapata!" and "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz."

But Mr. Wiseman was forever linked to "Dr. No," the first entry in the Bond action-spy franchise, despite his initial view that the movie "might be just another Grade-B Charlie Chan mystery." Mr. Wiseman played the talon-fingered title villain.

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His initially dismissive view of the film not without reason. Producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli chose the largely unknown Sean Connery as the British super spy, and he selected Mr. Wiseman for what the producer thought was his ability to convey "cold, sadistic menace." Mr. Wiseman reportedly took the role of the title villain after British entertainer Noel Coward declined.

We'll have a complete obituary tomorrow. Meanwhile, feel free to discuss why Mr. Wiseman may have been your favorite Bond villain.

By Adam Bernstein  |  October 20, 2009; 10:57 AM ET
Categories:  Actors, actresses , Adam Bernstein , Movies  
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Comments

But he should also be remembered for his role in the quintessential New York Jewish intellectual comedy, Bye Bye Braverman, one of Sidney Lumet's first films. A classic.

Posted by: jslaff | October 20, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Joe was a friend of our family for more than 50 yrs. He was a great actor and a very funny guy. He scared the heck out of us when he came to dinner just after "Dr. No" came out and my brothers & I were petrified that "Dr. No is coming to dinner!"

Posted by: fendertweed | October 20, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh, what sad news.
I'm 69.
When I was about 12 or 14, my family went to see the movie, "The Detective" starring Kirk Douglas and Frank Sinatra, I think.
Joseph Wiseman played the part of a petty criminal brought into the squad room awaiting processing.
He was handcuffed to a chair and proceeded to mouth off about everything going on, talking to anyone and everyone who passed by.
His character was a complete nut with a lot of Eastern European ethnic characteristics.
It was a wonderful performance, which earned rich praise from my father, a Texas engineer.
My father explained to me about the role of supporting character actors to make a movie more interesting.
He taught me to look for interesting performances in the movies I saw, a lesson I have never forgotten.
Mr. Wiseman was a professional genius as a character actor.
I have never seen a movie in which he held a part that I didn't pay close attention to his skills and enjoy his work.
May God bless him and give his family peace after such a long life full of rich talent and work that will long endure.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | October 20, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

My two favorite appearances of Joseph Wiseman on celluloid are 1)The Twilight Zone : One More Pallbearer (1962) and 2)The Unforgiven (1960) with Burt Lancaster & Audrey Hepburn....Wiseman was one of the greatest character actors ever...

Posted by: AlberichNibelung | October 20, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Great role, no doubt. Both Dr.No and Bond. Without being dis-respectful to anybosy let us be honest- the real crowd puller was Urusulla Andress.

Posted by: rksingh1987 | October 21, 2009 4:11 AM | Report abuse

That would be Ursula UNdress. God Bless the creator of the bikini.

Posted by: georgieporgie2 | October 21, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

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