Canadian stage and screen actor Joseph Wiseman has died at the age of 91.
The New York Times reports that Wiseman, known best for his memorable role as the villainous Dr. No in the very first James Bond film, passed away on Monday at his home in Manhattan, New York.
His daughter, Martha Graham Wiseman, confirmed the death, saying her father had recently been in declining health.
Born in Montreal on 15 May 1918, Wiseman and his family moved to the United States when he was a boy. He made his Broadway debut in 1938 with Abe Lincoln in Illinois. This was followed by several other stage performances in the 1940’s and 50’s, including Journey to Jerusalem (1940), Candle in the Wind (1941), Joan of Lorraine (1946), Antony and Cleopatra (1947), Detective Story (1949) and The Lark (1955).
In 1969, he took the title role in In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, which earned him a Drama Desk Award. His later performances included Zalman or The Madness of God in 1976, The Tenth Man in 1989 and Judgment at Nuremberg in 2001. Off-Broadway work included the premiere of Tony Kushner’s Slavs in 1994.
Prolific for his talent in projecting villainy, critic Robert Brustein called him ‘the spookiest actor in the American theatre. He would be ideally cast as Dracula.’
Wiseman put this talent to use in his film work, which is clearly evident in his restrained, but memorable portrayal of Dr. Julius No opposite Sean Connery’s 007 in the 1962 debut of James Bond. The performance made him an iconic Bond baddie.
His other film credits included Detective Story (1951), Viva Zapata! (1952), The Garment Jungle (1957), The Unforgiven (1960), The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968) and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974).
Wiseman’s wife, choreographer Pearl Lang, died in February of this year. He is survived by his daughter, Martha, and sister, Ruth Wiseman.
CommanderBond.net wishes the best to the family and friends of Joseph Wiseman.