March 2012

Encounters

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

George Lazenby & Cubby Broccoli

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

The railway worker’s son from Goulburn had done pretty well for himself since arriving in London in 1964. Within three years, the knockabout car salesman, mechanic and ski instructor was one of the most expensive male models in the world. European Marlboro Man, no less. Life as a clothes peg was swinging. But at 28, George Lazenby had just one burning desire. He wanted to be James Bond.

The job was up for grabs. After five films, Sean Connery decided he was getting typecast and short-changed. But the franchise was a goldmine and plans for the next instalment proceeded, minus a star. It was an open field.

Although he had no acting experience, Lazenby was not short on he-man self-confidence. He bought a suit from Connery’s Savile Row tailor, a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and took to having his hair trimmed by the barber patronised by Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli.

Broccoli was the man to know. Once a gopher for Howard Hughes, he’d set up as a producer in London in 1951 to tap into British government film subsidies. After a string of forgettable but profitable action adventure movies, he went bust when his self-financed film about Oscar Wilde proved impossible to promote in America. Never saying never again, he formed a partnership with Canadian Harry Saltzman to secure the film rights to Ian Fleming’s bestselling books. United Artists agreed to stump up the cash.

Lazenby’s efforts eventually made an impression. Called to audition, he wore his snappy suit and 007 wristwatch. Tall, athletic, masculine, he bounded up the stairs, lied about his acting experience, demanded payment for a screen test, punched a stuntman in the face and, in the ultimate litmus test, turned heads in the typing pool.  

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has James Bond save the planet from Telly Savalas and his henchwomen, get groovy with Diana Rigg, and wear a kilt. But even before shooting began, the Australian action man was acting the prima donna. He wanted the international superstar treatment and he wanted it now. And anyway, this Bond thing was getting a bit passé. Sometimes he felt like the only man in England with short hair.

Cubby found him “a pain in the neck”, particularly when he announced on American television on the eve of the film’s release that he wouldn’t be doing any more Bonds. But he offered him a seven-movie deal anyway. Lazenby didn’t think $28 million was enough. He went on a cruise instead. Apart from the regrets, he has no regrets.

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Shane Maloney is a writer and the author of the award-winning Murray Whelan series of crime novels. His 'Encounters', illustrated by Chris Grosz, have been published in a collection, Australian Encounters.

Chris Grosz is a book illustrator, painter and political cartoonist. He has illustrated newspapers and magazines such as the Age, the Bulletin and Time.

Cover: March 2012
View Edition

From the front page

Scott Morrison is welcomed to the US Capitol, by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, September 22, 2021

Plus ça change

Morrison’s cackhandedness leaves him at the mercy of our allies, as French fury grows

Cover detail of Andrew O'Hagan’s ‘Mayflies’

There is a light

Andrew O’Hagan’s ‘Mayflies’ and what might endure from our irresponsible but spirited youth

Scott Morrison in the sheds after the NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys in Sydney, July 25, 2019

Birth of a larrikin

The disguised rise of Scott Morrison

Black Summer at Currowan

Lessons from Australia’s worst bushfires


In This Issue

Quarterly Essay 45, 'Us and Them: On the Importance of Animals', by Anna Krien, Black Inc., 125pp; $19.95

Us and Them: On the Importance of Animals

The Broken Hill 'Barrier Miner', 2 September 1952. Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

After the Dance

A 1952 Murder Mystery in Broken Hill

A quota success story: an elected female representative leads an Indian village meeting for local women. Courtesy of the Hunger Project.

Status Quota

Do Mandatory Gender Quotas Work?

Happier times: Rhys Muldoon and Kevin Rudd in January 2010. © Ella Pellegrini/Newspix

Kevin Rudd: A Coup By Any Other Name


More in Encounters

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Rupert Murdoch & Kamahl

Mark Oliphant & J Robert Oppenheimer

John Monash & King George V

John Howard & Uri Geller


Read on

Cover detail of Andrew O'Hagan’s ‘Mayflies’

There is a light

Andrew O’Hagan’s ‘Mayflies’ and what might endure from our irresponsible but spirited youth

Scott Morrison in the sheds after the NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys in Sydney, July 25, 2019

Birth of a larrikin

The disguised rise of Scott Morrison

Black Summer at Currowan

Lessons from Australia’s worst bushfires

Image of Paul Kelly

Unfinished business

Every Paul Kelly song so far, from worst to best