‘Nobody Does It Better’ Book Excerpt: How Sean Connery Became James Bond in 1962’s ‘Dr. No’

For James Bond fans, the ultimate guide to the nearly 60-year-old film franchise has arrived in the form of Nobody Does It Better, an oral history of the only gentleman secret agent with a license to kill — and thrill — telling the incredible, uncensored true stories of the James Bond movie series.

This excerpt from the book, written by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, goes back to the early days of the series when the first film, Dr. No, was gearing up for production and the search was on by producers Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to find the perfect actor to bring author Ian Fleming’s agent 007 to the big screen. That actor would, of course, be Sean Connery. As the release date for the 25th Bond adventure, Daniel Craig‘s No Time to Die, approaches, we’re going back to the beginning with this inside look at the first film in the series, Dr. No.

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Two decades into the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine what it was like to first see Dr. No in a theater unless you were actually there. It was 1962, only 20 years after the end of World War II. The Cold War was heating up; the Soviet Union signed a trade pact with communist Cuba, triggering a U.S. trade embargo; downed U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was exchanged for convicted Soviet spy Rudolf Abel in Berlin on the Glienicke Bridge; and astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. In August, East German border guards murdered 18-year-old Peter Fechter as he attempted to make it over the Berlin Wall, while an assassination attempt was made against French President Charles de Gaulle, escalating global tensions.

Meanwhile, the glamorous Jackie Kennedy took viewers on a tour of the White House in a nationally televised special, AT&T put the first commercial communications satellite into orbit, Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain became the first basketball player to score 100 points in a game (and more than likely 100 women as well), Bob Dylan released his first album and West Side Story won Best Picture at the Oscars. Tragically, it was also the year in which Marilyn Monroe was found dead in bed from an overdose of sleeping pills.

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Ironically, it was also the year that Air France Flight 007 crashed on takeoff in Paris, while at movie theaters 007 first took off. In October 1962, only weeks before the Cuban Missile Crisis had the world on the brink of a nuclear exchange (and on the same day that The Beatles released their first single, “Love Me Do”), Dr. No debuted in theaters. As presidents such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both said many years later in explaining the appeal of 007, it was very reassuring for audiences to know a secret agent like James Bond was looking out for Queen and country and making the world safe for democracy.

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