Bernard Lee

Bernard Lee
Bernard Lee

TCM Overview:

An English actor whose screen career spanned more than 100 roles on film and television over nearly five decades, Bernard Lee was best remembered for his recurring appearances as ‘M,” the no-nonsense head of the British Secret Service in the first 11 James Bond films. The son of a music hall performer, Lee trained with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art prior to launching a prolific stage career in London’s West End. Early film roles usually saw him cast as either a policeman or military officer in such features as “The Third Man” (1949) and “Seagulls over Sorrento” (1954), but it was with a relatively minor appearance as Bond’s superior in “Dr. No” (1962) that indelibly linked him to Ian Fleming’s legacy. For most of the two decades that followed, Lee steadily took on roles in projects like “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” (1965), but increasingly it appeared as though audiences and producers alike only saw him as the authoritarian MI6 chief. Two years after appearing as M for the final time in “Moonraker” (1979), Lee succumbed to cancer. Although he was eventually replaced in the role, for the majority of die hard Bond fans, Bernard Lee would always be considered the one true personification of M.


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