Meet the Forgotten James Bond as ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ Celebrates 50 Years (Exclusive)

The big “will he or won’t he” question until recently was whether or not Daniel Craig would be reprising the role of James Bond for the fifth time. The answer now, of course, is that he will be, as the still-untitled Bond 25 is currently shooting. Had he chosen not to, the search would have been on for new 007 as the so-called “changing of the Bond” is something that generates a lot of media attention and fan excitement. That wasn’t always the case, though, particularly when it came to 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Back in 1967, the search was on for an actor to replace Sean Connery, who had announced he was leaving the Bond role after the fifth entry in the series, You Only Live Twice. Through a worldwide casting process, Australian model and mechanic George Lazenby was chosen by director Peter Hunt and producers Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to be the next 007 in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (more popularly know as OHMSS).

Back in the day, this was actually a really big deal, as the Bond films had become such a global success that few believed anyone but Sean could play the part. Indeed, George voluntarily stepped away from the series following OHMSS and Sean was lured back one more time for 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. This was followed by Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and now Craig. George, who did continue acting, slipped back into relative obscurity. A few years ago, Hulu brought his story to life in the documentary Becoming Bond, which is available for streaming.

OHMSS was a change-of-pace 007 film, getting away from gadgets and larger-than-life machinations of the villain, focusing instead on a more human Bond (though action was everywhere). Over the course of the story, he meets, falls in love with and marries Countess Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg), who ultimately ends up being shot to death by the henchwoman of villain Ernst Stravro Blofeld (Telly Savalas).

Scroll down to read our exclusive interview with George Lazenby.

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