Best known to Bond fans worldwide as the first silver
screen villain "Dr
actor Joseph Wiseman has died aged 91...
Joseph Wiseman (1918-2009)
20th October 2009
Joseph Wiseman was born in Montreal, Canada
on May 15th, 1918. Undoubtedly, Wiseman is most recognised as
007’s very first
arch enemy in 1962 the film "Dr.
No", yet Wiseman had
been acting since the 1930s. He moved with his family to the
United States when he was a boy.
Wiseman landed his first Broadway role
in the company of "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" in 1938.
He went on to perform in a steady string of Broadway productions,
of Lorraine" (1946), "Antony
and Cleopatra" (1947), "Detective Story" (1949),; "The
Lark" (1955) and the title role in "In
the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer" (1969).
He was critically
hailed for his performance in Shakespeare’s “King
Lear”, Clifford Odets' "Golden Boy" and Anton
Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya".
Prior to his stint with 007, Wiseman has acted
on screen opposite Marlon Brando in "Viva Zapata!" (1952)
as his archenemy, and with Burt Lancaster in "The Unforgiven" (1960).
His other pre-Bond villain film credits included "Detective
Story" (1951) and "The Garment Jungle" (1957).
Above: Joseph Wiseman demonstrates
the "palms up" gesture for Kirk Douglas and
William Bendix in William Wyler's "Detective Story"
His most famous role as the titular Dr.
the first big screen James Bond movie by EON Productions came
by the way of producer Harry
Saltzman, who cast Wiseman as 007's
first nemesis in December 1961. It was his role as a drug fiend
in "Detective Story" which reportedly singled him out as the
front runner. All of his scenes were shot in Pinewood on Ken
Adam's impressive sets, where along with Sean
Connery, he met 007's creator Ian
After Bond Fever struck around the world in
the early 1960's, Wiseman appeared in "The Night They Raided
Minsky’s" (1968) and "The Apprenticeship of Duddy
Kravitz" (1974). Later he appeared opposite Sir Laurence
Olivier in "The Betsy" (1978).
"East, West - just points of
as stupid as the other"
Later in his career, Wiseman enjoyed many guest
roles on popular television shows, including "Law & Order," "L.A,
Law," "MacGyver," "Buck Rogers in the 25th
Century," "The A-Team," "The Streets of San
Francisco," "The Untouchables" and "The Twilight
Zone." In the late 1980s, he had a recurring role as the
crime boss Manny Weisbord on the NBC drama "Crime Story.”
In 1994, he appeared Off Broadway in the Tony Kushner play "Slavs!" in
the role of Prelapsarianov, "the world’s oldest living
Bolshevik." In a review for The New York Times, Vincent
Canby said Mr. Wiseman played Prelapsarianov “to frail
perfection.” Back on Broadway, Wiseman's appeared in Arthur
Miller's "I Can't Remember Anything" in 1997. His last
role was as a witness for the prosecution in Abby Mann’s
stage adaptation of his film drama "Judgment at Nuremberg" in
had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I had no
idea it would achieve the success it did. I know nothing
about mysteries. I don't take to them. As far as I was
I thought it might be just another Grade-B
Charlie Chan mystery" -- Joseph Wiseman on his role
as Dr. No
Wiseman died on Monday 19th
October 2009 at his home in Manhattan. He was 91, and the last
main villain of the James Bond films that Sean
Connery made for
EON Productions. His daughter, Martha Graham Wiseman, confirmed
the death, saying her father had recently
been in declining health. His first marriage, to Nell Kinard,
ended in divorce; his second wife, the choreographer
Pearl Lang, died in February. In addition to his daughter,
Martha, from his marriage to Ms. Kinard, Mr. Wiseman is survived
sister, Ruth Wiseman.