2023 saw Ian Fleming Publications and our man James celebrated the literary 007’s seventieth anniversary in various bespoke ways, 007 – Road to a Million heralded a new and vital Amazonian reality show adventure for the movie franchise, Charlie Higson wrote On His Majesty’s Secret Service for the King’s coronation, new documentary feature The Other Fellow took a wholly new and original approach to the Bond phenomenon, and a year of press speculation reminded audiences of the fever for Bond 26 and the next spy to don the tux.
Yet, as those gunbarrel white dots prove, the circle of life is a curious one and 2023 saw some Bond alumni exit stage left…
‘You’ll never know how I watched you from the shadows as a child.’‘Goldeneye’, tina turner, 1995
With those dripping Bob Mackie silhouettes, an amazing sense of personal agency, a wholly unique stage command and career fight, Bond’s private dancer Tina Turner was the legend and Edge that 007’s 1995 revival needed.
A rare Bond performer who had already been a face of cinema herself way before Pierce Brosnan (an accolade she shares with Bond’s Lulu – who penned ‘I Don’t Want To Fight’ for her), Tina Turner crossed the decades like she crossed a stage. In the 1960s she was a proud Mary whose sound elevated black politics with no city limits, in the 1970s she made the gay Marys proud and became a queer icon, in the 1980s she was one of a select few who personified American pop culture across the world, and in the 1990s she returned to cinema with not just the influential What’s Love Got To Do With It (1993), but also Bond. The Nutbush duchess gifted Pierce Brosnan’s 007 reboot GoldenEye (1995) with style, presence and just the right amount of legend as she flanked Brosnan at the world premiere and appeared in a promotional video directed by Jake Scott (Ridley Scott’s son).
From the roofs of a 1970s classic via the matinee caper of 1980’s Flash Gordon and one of the best Bond allies and plot twists in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, Chaim Topol was a master of story gravitas and movie charm. A friend of the Broccoli family, Topol lent the Bond series great grace and could have probably played any 1980s Bond villain rather well.
Anyone who had a heart for a tune knows the titan of lounge left the stage in 2023. A true king of culture, music, good looks and style, the legendary Burt Bacharach also gave Bond’s jukebox a wholly immortal score in 1967’s Casino Royale. He discovered Dionne Warwick (‘Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Thunderball), collaborated like lyrical knights with Hal David (Moonraker), married Carole Bayer-Sager (‘Nobody Does it Better’, The Spy Who Loved Me) and got an Oscar nomination for Dusty Springfield’s smoky Bond classic, ‘The Look of Love’.
Culture – and Bond culture – is immeasurably better for his work, notes, smile and command of music and life.
Other lesser known Bond alumni to have passed this year includes MGM and United Artists Releasing distribution boss Erik Lomis. A vital, instinctual cog in Bond exhibition, the figure who held firm during lockdown to ensure Bond remains a big screen hero and an industry mind watching 007’s new adventures with Amazon Studios, Lomis was a key 007 and EON ally.
Other sad losses from the Bond world in 2023 include the guitarist and songwriter Denny Laine (co-founded Wings and performed bass guitar and backing vocals on 1973’s Academy Award nominated hit ‘Live and Let Die’), actor Julian Sands (‘Q’, BBC Radio Four / Jarvis & Ayre’s radio adaptations of Ian Fleming’s novels), Tomorrow Never Dies advisor Henry Kissinger, director Hugh Hudson (who adapted his own film classic Chariots of Fire for the stage in 2012 with EON Productions and was married to Bond actress, Maryam D’Abo), underwater director Ricou Browning (Thunderball, Never Say Never Again), stuntman Dinny Powell (Casino Royale ’67, The Spy Who Loved Me, A View to a Kill), stuntman Chris Webb (Octopussy, A View to a Kill, For Your Eyes Only and many more Bond titles), stunt man Richard Hammatt (GoldenEye), assistant director Jamie Christopher (GoldenEye), A&M Records co-founder Jerry Moss (Casino Royale ’67, Octopussy), and fashion and costume designer Paco Rabanne (Casino Royale ’67).