George Lazenby – A One Off Bond

George Lazenby – A One Off Bond

George Lazenby is an Australian actor best known for his role as the legendary spy, James Bond. Lazenby appeared in only one movie in the Bond franchise – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – but despite his brief tenure as 007, he left a lasting impression on Bond fans.

Lazenby had only worked in TV commercials before casting for James Bond, and actually beat future James Bond Roger Moore to the role after impressing with his ruggedness during the audition.

He took on the role from Sean Connery and many fans and critics were overly critical. Lazenby didn’t do himself any favours with the way he left the role immediately after one movie. This would no doubt have had some influence on the critique of his performance, because as time has moved on, there are many more favourable comments on his performance.


In this biography post, we’ll take a closer look at George Lazenby’s life before, the brief time during, and his life after Bond.

George Lazenby young and recent

George Lazenby – His Time in the James Bond Role

George Lazenby had only starred in TV commercials before he won the casting for James Bond for the sixth instalment On Her Majesty’s Secret Service at the grand old age of 29.

Bond producer Albert Broccoli first met Lazenby while they were both in the same barbers, and later invited him to audition for the Bond role after seeing him and in the Big Fry chocolate bar ad.

For the audition, Lazenby went along in a tailor made suit, a similar Rolex Submariner wristwatch that Sean Connery had worn in the movies, and tried his best to look like Bond.

Ironically, he impressed Broccoli and Hunt after accidentally punching a stunt coordinator during the audition. This prompted Broccoli to cast Lazenby as James Bond before many other possible candidates including Timothy Dalton and Roger Moore.

At the time when On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was released, critics were indecisive about the film’s standing among the Bond movies. The movie wasn’t a Box Office smash, and critics questioned why producers cast Lazenby when he had never starred in a film and had only done TV commercials.

Although Lazenby was an amateur actor new to the business, he certainly did justice to the Bond role. The ski action sequences are nothing short of spectacular and something that audiences had never witnessed in any of Connery’s flicks before.

With Diana Rigg, George Lazenby’s portrayal of Bond was unlike any other before it. His character exhibited a sense of heart and emotion that is reminiscent of Daniel Craig‘s performances today – especially in the tragic end scene where Tracy is murdered. The acting throughout this sequence is powerful and truly touching to watch. Not bad for a first timer!

But Lazenby’s problems lied more within his own self-esteem during filming than the media post release. He’s admitted that he was hard to work with, and he had a strained relationship with director Peter Hunt and his on-screen love interest Dianna Rigg which made things difficult for the inexperienced actor.

George Lazenby and Diana Rigg in movie

Dianna Rigg, who played Tracy, the only Bond girl to ever marry 007, had a difficult time working with the former model, and accused him of being obsessed with himself.

‘I can no longer cater for his obsession with himself. He is utterly, unbelievably … bloody impossible,’ said Rigg.

Their bickering went on for years afterwards, and she even wrote an open letter to him published in a British newspaper, calling him ‘paranoid, inexcusable and crude,’ and admitted that he was treated with hostility during filming, but she blamed it on Lazenby’s ‘extreme behaviour.’

George Lazenby had intended to sign the contract and star in more Bond movies, but decided not to star again even before On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was released.

Lazenby said he’d be giving up the role as James Bond as the producers hadn’t respected him and disregarded everything he suggested because he was new to acting.

For the world premiere, he grew his hair longer and a beard and did everything to disassociate himself with Bond, a character Lazenby labelled a ‘brute’.

Lazenby left the Bond set up with a bitter taste. He was hard to work with, that can be of no doubt, and in hindsight, it’s probably something he regrets, because the work didn’t come flooding in afterwards.

George Lazenby and Diana Rigg

But in his one-off James Bond movie, he did well. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is an excellent film. Lazenby may not have the sophistication of Connery, but the action scenes are excellent, and the end scene showed he really is a better actor than the contemporary critics tried to label him.  

George Lazenby Before and After Bond

George Robert Lazenby was born on 5 September 1939 in Goulburn, New South Wales, which is about 200km south west of Sydney. His father George was a railway worker and his mother, Sheila worked in retail. He has one sister called Barbara, who became a successful dancer.

He attended all his schooling in Goulburn, and then when he was 14 his family moved to Queanbeyan, which is about 100km south of Goulburn. After leaving school Lazenby joined the Australian Army where he served as sergeant and taught martial arts.

After serving his time int he army, Lazenby got a job working as a car salesman, before moving to London in 1963 to be with a woman he’d met in Australia.

When he got to London, however, he never managed to find her. In London, he worked as a car salesman at a Mercedes Benz showroom in Park Lane, and while there he met a photographer that encouraged him to take up modelling.

Lazenby took up modelling and became the highest paid male model in Europe and voted model of the year in 1966. This led him into acting where he starred in a few advertisements, most notably for a Big Fry Chocolate Bar and Lyon’s Maid Ice Cream ads.

Watch George Lazenby in Lyons Maid Ice Cream commercial

After starring in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, George Lazenby had a somewhat tumultuous career in the entertainment industry. After declining a contract to star in 7 more Bond films, he struggled to get much work after starring as Bond, but he did star in Universal Soldier (1971) and Italian giallo film Who Saw Her Die? (1972).

After this, he spent the next 15 months sailing around the world with girlfriend Chrissie Townson, but they had to stop after she became pregnant with their daughter Melanie. They married and had another child, Zachary. Horrifically, Zachary was diagnosed with a brain tumour at 11 years old, and he passed away when he was just 19 years old.

In 1973, broke and out of work, Lazenby went to Hong Kong and signed a deal to star in Bruce Lee’s upcoming film Game of Death. However, Bruce Lee died suddenly just days before filming was to start.

George Lazenby had some success in Hong Kong starring in a few films, before moving to Australia to work in TV, but there was no notable roles. He then moved to Hollywood and got some parts in some lesser known movies, and starred in TV shows Hawaii-Five-O, and in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, aptly named Diamonds Aren’t Forever.

Lazenby married for a second time in 2002 to tennis legend Pam Shriver. They had 3 children together – George Jr., and twins Kate and Sam, but they divorced in 2008.

In later years, Lazenby has occasionally made appearances at James Bond-related events and conventions. He has also published a book about his experiences playing Bond, entitled The Man Who Would Be Bond. Despite the challenges he faced in the industry, Lazenby is still considered a cult icon among fans of the James Bond franchise.

Bond and Blofeld On her Majesty's Secret Service

Random Facts About George Lazenby

George Lazenby is a black belt in karate and became firm friends with Bruce Lee after he moved to Hong Kong.

He was supposed to have dinner with Bruce Lee the same night Lee passed away.

He was the highest paid model in Europe before making his acting debut in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

He’s an accomplished skier and won ski contests in Australia before moving to London.

George Lazenby is the youngest actor to play James Bond.

He beat off 400 actors, including Roger Moore to the James Bond role.

George Lazenby – A One Off James Bond

George Lazenby’s portrayal as James Bond is an underrated gem of the 007 franchise. From his action sequences to his emotional scenes, he left a lasting impression on audiences and eventually the media.

He may have been awkward to work with, and he probably regrets not taking on the contract to star in more Bond movies. That said, his performance should not be overlooked and deserves recognition for the great job he did in portraying one of the most iconic characters in cinema.

Despite his limited career as Bond, George Lazenby will be remembered fondly by fans. It is a shame that he only appeared in one movie, but it certainly is still worth watching today.

George Lazenby FAQs

How old was George Lazenby when he played James Bond?

George Lazenby was 29 when he was cast to play James Bond, making him the youngest actor to have played 007.

Why did George Lazenby only do 1 Bond movie?

George Lazenby only made 1 Bond movie because he turned down the offer to do more. During filming of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Lazenby regularly fell out with the producers and co-stars, and decided that he wouldn’t continue as James Bond.

What year did George Lazenby play James Bond?

George Lazenby was cast to play James Bond in 1968, and the only Bond movie he starred in, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was released in 1969.

How tall is George Lazenby?

George Lazenby stands at an impressive 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm) tall, which contributed to his commanding presence on the screen as James Bond.

When and where was George Lazenby born?

George Lazenby was born on September 5, 1939, in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia, making him the first Australian actor to take on the iconic role of James Bond.

What was George Lazenby’s profession before becoming an actor?

Before taking on the role of 007, Lazenby was one of the highest-paid models in the world during the 1960s.

Why did George Lazenby leave the James Bond franchise after only one film?

Lazenby decided to leave the James Bond franchise after just one film due to concerns that the character would not remain popular in the changing cultural landscape of the 1970s. He also had disagreements with the producers and wanted to explore other acting opportunities.

How many times has George Lazenby been married?

George Lazenby has been married twice. His first marriage was to Christina Gannett in 1971, with whom he has two children. His second marriage was to former tennis player Pam Shriver in 2002, and they have three children together. Lazenby and Shriver divorced in 2011.

What is George Lazenby’s net worth?

As of 2021, George Lazenby’s estimated net worth was approximately $20 million.