James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is …William Stephenson.
The Times of London, October 21, 1962
The True Intrepid… a Book and now a Documentary. Known by the code name Intrepid, Sir William Stephenson started off as a poor Winnipeg hardware salesman and ended up a Second World War spy legend and the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s martini-swilling hero, James Bond.
The True Intrepid: Sir William Stephenson and the Unknown Agents
written by: Bill Macdonald
The World War II intelligence exploits of William Stephenson-the mysterious man known simply as “Intrepid” who is said to be the real-life model for Ian Fleming’s James Bond-were celebrated in his lifetime in espionage lore the world over. As head of the British Security Coordination, a predecessor of the CIA, Stephenson was responsible for the hugely successful covert political war against all sources of Axis strength and support. Subsequently, though, some observers questioned certain aspects of Stephenson’s career. Others attempted to discredit his reputation or reduce his role in history.
He died relatively forgotten. In this fascinating re-examination of the historical record, Bill Macdonald documents Stephenson’s clouded early life and unravels the tangled strings of information that run through secret papers and previous books to reveal the astonishing details of the man who said: “Nothing deceives like a document.”
There were a number of British appointments at the BSC, but essentially, Stephenson contacted his friends, put them to work and had them find staff. They recruited thousands-many of them Canadian women. Included in this volume are many interviews with former members of the BSC: secretaries, cipher clerks, covert operatives and with former BSC agent, British author, Roald Dahl.
The True Intrepid weaves its way through deception, treachery, war, espionage and a search for the “true” James Bond.
Book dust jacket cover
The True Intrepid
- directed by Terry McEvoy and produced by Kevin Dunn
Last night, in support of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, MidCanada Entertainment presented an hour-long documentary The True Intrepid, based on Winnipegger Bill MacDonald’s biography, premiered at the IMAX in Winnipeg. (click here to view a commercial for the event). If you live in Canada you can catch The True Intrepid on Prime TV in June, on Global in July or later this summer on Mystery.
“It’s an amazing story of this spymaster who really changed the course of history and he was born right here in Winnipeg,” says The True Intrepid’s producer Kevin Dunn.
The film was shot across Canada and the U.S., including Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and in Winnipeg. Dunn and crew tracked down friends, relatives and associates of Stephenson, including a former chief historian for the CIA. Just before his retirement, Stephenson shared his stories with another spy named Ian Fleming. Fleming was inspired by the stories, and went on to create 007 James Bond.
Ian Fleming himself was quoted as saying that James Bond was based on the life of a true spy,” says Dunn. “I think Winnipeggers will once again realize that you don’t have to come from New York or Washington or London to be a major influence on the world. All it takes is the true desire to do good. That’s what Sir William did.