Joseph Wiseman, the first actor to play a Bond villain on the big screen, died on Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 91.
Wiseman, a Canadian Jewish stage and screen actor who had roles in “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,” “The Night They Raided Minskys” and “Judgment at Nuremberg,” will – much to his frustration when he was alive – always best be remembered as the titular Eurasian evil genius opposite Sean Connery in “Dr. No” (1962).
From the L.A. Times:
The diabolical Dr. No was a formidable foe.
As Los Angeles Times movie critic Philip K. Scheuer put it: “Out pfui-ing Fu Manchu, Dr. No reveals himself to be the head of a vast underworld organization called SPECTER and dedicated to the destruction and domination of mankind. And, by gad, he has the equipment to pull it off.”
Wiseman hadn’t an inkling that he was participating in the launch of what became one of the most successful movie franchises of all time.
“I had no idea it would achieve the success it did,” he told The Times in 1992 with a laugh. “As far as I was concerned, I thought it might be just another grade-B Charlie Chan mystery.”
Although Wiseman was part of movie history, his daughter said he viewed “Dr. No” with “great disdain.”
“He was horrified in later life because that’s what he was remembered for,” she said. “Stage acting was what he wanted to be remembered for.”