George Leech, prolific stunt performer, arranger
and veteran of eleven James Bond films, has
George Leech (1921-2012)
18th June 2012
Veteran stuntman George Leech has died at the
age of 90. He performed stunt double and arrangement duties,
as well as appearing on screen himself as various goons and henchman,
in multiple James Bond films from "Dr.
No" in 1962
up to "A View To A Kill" in 1985.
Above: George Leech holds Caroline
Bouquet at knife point in "For Your Eyes Only"
Born in London, England, on December 6th, 1921, George Leech
started his film career in 1947 as the stand-in for James Mason
in "Odd Man Out". By the mid-1950s he landed small
roles in films such as the Pier Angeli film "Port Afrique",
and soon found himself in great demand. A few years later his
first big action film came with "The Guns Of Navarone".
The following year he was engaged on a modest film called "Dr
No" - it was to be the first of eleven James Bond films,
which took him through to Roger Moore's last outing in "A
View To A Kill" in 1985. Leech doubled for George
Lazenby and Roger
Moore, as well as having a few fisty-cuffs with Sean
Connery and his adversaries. His other credits include "Chitty
Chitty Bang Bang", "A Bridge Too Far", "Kelly's
Heroes", "The Eagle Has Landed", "Revenge
Of The Pink Panther", "Superman" and "North
In the mind 1990s, Leech reflected on his work as stunt arranger
on Lazenby's sole outing as 007 in "On
Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969). With regular Bond
stunt arranger Bob Simmons in Spain working with Connery on "Shalako",
Leech was promoted to his role and one of his first responsibilities
conducting screen tests for the potential 007s, and in particular
a brutal fight sequence. "Before [Lazenby] had done a couple
of scenes in tests and then they said, 'Well, we want to see
if he's any good at action' - so I had to arrange a fight scene.
I had a set built by the art department and I arranged a fight
scene there with Yuri Borienko. In fact, I think that was a better
fight - the test - than the one we did in the film, although
the one in the film was very good," Leech recalled. Lazenby,
who broke Borienko's nose performing the scenes, passed with
flying colours and was hired largely on the strength of that
Above: Lazenby shooting
the studio close-ups for the cable car wheel house scene.
Also on the same film, Leech
suffered an injury whilst doubling for Lazenby. For the scenes
where Bond escapes Piz Gloria via
the cable car wheel house, Leech wanted to ensure that he was
in top physical condition to hang from the cables for prolonged
periods. "The cables went right inside the building itself.
They were the thickness of a piece of metal scaffolding and I
used to practice on that all day when there was a break, swinging
on it and climbing hand over hand and doing pull ups. So I thought
to myself, 'Well, I've got all the strength to do this,' but
I never reckoned that I would slip and dislocate my arm. That
finished my tricks on the cable. My hand slipped because the
cable was greasy. I grabbed hold of it and having missed with
one hand, still hanging on, you twist around. That's it. You
can't stop yourself twisting and the shoulder just goes 'crunch'
and off I came. But one of our jobs is to try to get things safe
so that you don't have accidents. So I had prepared a bed underneath
of boxes and mattresses in case myself or anyone else fell off.
And, of course, I hurtled down and 'splosh!' - that was it." The
accident lead to the moment in film that was not originally scripted,
when Bond rips out his trouser pockets to use them as makeshift
gloves to get a better grip on the slippery cable.
Above: An alternative shot where
Leech's character uses a boat hook to keep Melina in
As well as his stunt arrangement and doubling
work on "Majesty's",
sharp-eyed fans can see George Leech on screen as the strangled
SPECTRE skier. Also, as Joseph
Wiseman's double in "Dr No",
wearing a machine gun-proof vest in "Goldfinger",
fighting 007 at the climax of "Thunderball" on
board the Disco Volante, and holding Melina at
knife point in "For
Your Eyes Only". Aside from Sean Connery, he was one
of only a few regular Bond crew members to work on the rogue
Say Never Again". His final Bond credit was as Willoughby
Gray's double in "A View To A Kill". He also worked
Only Live Twice", "Diamonds
Are Forever", "The
Spy Who Loved Me" and "Octopussy".
George Leech passed away on Sunday 17th June 2012. He is survived
by two daughters. One of them, Wendy Leech, who was one of the
first stunt-women in the business, is married to fellow 007 stuntman
extraordinaire Vic Armstrong.