The James Bond mantle has only been passed down to a handful of people throughout the entirety of history. While Sir Roger Moore is perhaps the most prolific of the 007 actors, he still looked up to some of the former Bond stars, including David Niven, whose birthday is , March 1, 2023.
Niven played countless characters in Hollywood across his 50-year career. But the most notable role he ever took on was that of Bond, James Bond, in the 1967 hit Casino Royale.
This version of Bond was not produced by Eon, and became the first off-brand version of 007 for the big screen. In it, Niven played Sir James Bond in a comedy parody adaptation of Ian Fleming’s original novel. In the movie he worked alongside some massive stars including Deborah Kerr, Orson Welles, Woody Allan and Peter Sellers.
Years later, Niven and Moore worked together in two films, Escape to Athena and The Sea Wolves. While shooting these pictures, the two Bonds became very good friends and frequently hung out when the cameras had stopped rolling.
Niven died on July 29, 1983, aged 73. He suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Moore later looked back on working with Niven and admitted getting emotional when watching his films.
The saddest thing about ageing is that most of my friends are now ‘in the other room,'” Moore told The Guardian in 2014.
“I miss David Niven the most,” Moore continued. “I still can’t watch his films without shedding a tear.”
He also revealed he was gifted a keepsake after Niven died: “There’s a bronze bust of him in my study. Given to me by his son, David Jr.”
Even though Niven was never involved in the “official” James Bond cinematic universe, he was actually the first choice for 007 when a film adaptation was brought up.
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