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Bernard Lee

Lee as M in The Man with the Golden Gun.
Born 10 January 1908(1908-01-10)
London, England, UK
Died 16 January 1981 (aged 73)
London, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1934–1979
Spouse(s) Gladys Merredew (?-?)

Bernard Lee (10 January 1908 – 16 January 1981) was an English actor, best known for his role as M in the first eleven James Bond films.



Born in London, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. During the 1930s he acted mostly on stage, but after World War II developed a successful film career, including The Third Man (1949), The Blue Lamp (1950), Beat the Devil (1953), The Battle of the River Plate (1956), The Spanish Gardener (1956), Dunkirk (1958), Web of Evidence (1959), Whistle Down the Wind (1961) and The L-Shaped Room (1962).

Lee also starred in the 1976 television show Beauty and the Beast with George C. Scott. A year later he starred in the television show A Christmas Carol as the Ghost of Christmas Present. He is the grandfather of British actor Jonny Lee Miller.



In January 1981, Lee died in London after a battle with stomach cancer, an illness which ruled him out of the filming for For Your Eyes Only after he had been cast to appear in the film. Out of respect, no new actor was hired to take over the role of M. In the film, M's lines were transferred to the Minister of Defence and Bill Tanner, M's Chief of Staff. In Octopussy, the M of Lee is succeded by the M of Robert Brown


James Bond films

In the Bond films, Lee's character, M, is Admiral Sir Miles Messervy (only ever named, besides as 'M', as 'Admiral' and 'Miles' on screen in his appearances), Bond's irascible boss who sends him out on assignments. He also portrays M along with Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny in the 1975 French comedy Bons baisers de Hong Kong. Lee was succeeded by Robert Brown, though not necessarily playing the same character (Brown had played another admiral in the series previously). Judi Dench, a friend of Lee's, would later take over the role of a brand-new M, starting in 1995 with some references to her predecessor, including an oil painting of Lee in the role seen in MI6's secondary HQ (a Scottish castle).

Bernard Lee starred in eleven James Bond films.

Other films

External links

Preceded by
M (James Bond) actor
Succeeded by
Robert Brown


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