James Bond, 007, is probably the most famous fictional character of all time. He is the British secret agent that with the license to kill who has been appearing regularly on movie screens around the world since 1962, when the first Bond movie, Dr No, was released. The 007 character was created by Ian Fleming, who wrote 11 Bond novels and a number of short stories. Fleming himself lead almost as a colourful life as the secret agent character he created and many of the characters in the books were based on real people that Fleming met during his time working for the British Naval Intelligence. You may think that you know all that there is to know about James Bond, but here are ten facts about Ian Fleming, the man who created 007, that you may not have known.
1. There is a lot Fleming in Bond
The similarities between the fictional James Bond and the real life Ian Fleming are quite astonishing. Fleming was a heavy drinker and smoker and he was known for being a womaniser too. Fleming was a naval intelligence officer and, just like Bond, he did get sent all around the world on secret missions. Fleming lived in a house in Jamaica called Goldeneye, and even his Fleming’s golf handicap of 9, is exactly the same as James Bond.
2. He didn’t like America
James Bond movies are possibly the only movie franchise where it’s the Brits that save the world and not the Americans. That could well be because Ian Fleming didn’t have a lot of time for the USA and he once said of Americans that they were “Totally unprepared to rule the world that is now theirs”.
3. He had friends in high places
Ian Fleming was extremely well connected. When the Suez crisis developed in 1956, The British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden was a house guest at Fleming’s home in Jamaica. Fleming is also said to have given American President John F Kennedy some tips on how to deal with the Cuban crisis of 1962.
The famous Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie, starring Dick Van Dyke, was based on books written by Ian Fleming. Fleming wrote the stories while he was recovering from a serious heart attack and they were based on bedtime stories that he told his son Caspar in the evenings.
5. Ian Fleming was related to Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee, who played Scaramanga in the 1974 Bond movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, is the step cousin of Ian Fleming. Christopher Lee was served in the British Special Forces, though never with Fleming, and the two played golf together and were good friends.
6. James Bond was named after an ornithologist
Ian Fleming was a keen bird watcher and he got the name for his secret age character from the author of some bird watching books that he had read. Fleming chose the name of James Bond, because, in his own words, "It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed”.
Ian Fleming explains how he chose the name James Bond
7. Fleming called his mother ‘M’
A lot of the names that are used in the James Bond novels were taken from people that Ian Fleming knew in real life. ‘M’, for example, was what he used to call his mother and it was also the code for Fleming’s commander during the Second World War. The character ‘Q’ is said to have been taken from a James Bond fan that used to write to Fleming about the author’s choices of weapons that were used in the Bond books.
The Bond novels were extremely popular and some his fan base surprised even Ian Fleming. It is said the Fleming grew tired of writing about James Bond, and he wanted to kill the character off, but with a fan base that included Prince Philip and President John F. Kennedy, he was convinced to continue writing the books.
9. Ian Fleming was involved in ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’
Ian Fleming was involved with the initial ideas that were behind the TV series ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’, and the spin off from that, ‘The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.’. Fleming was approached to write the series, but had to pull out for fear that it would overlap with the Bond movies. He did, however, put forward several ideas for the show, which included the names of Napoleon Solo and April Dancer.
Ian Fleming died, aged 56, following a heart attack in August 1964. He sold thirty million books in his lifetime, and twice that volume of Bond books were sold in the two years following his death. The Bond movies, to date, have grossed over $12,360,000,000 and the franchise is still going strong. Ever the English gentleman, Ian’s Flemings last recorded words were when he spoke to the ambulance crew that picked him up after his final heart attack. He said "I am sorry to trouble you chaps. I don't know how you get along so fast with the traffic on the roads these days."
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