James Bond -- the spy who loved Long Island
As last week's Oscar celebration reminded us, James Bond has been part of our culture for more than 50 years. In that time, Ian Fleming's Agent 007 has traveled the world -- from the Bahamas to Istanbul to Jamaica, Queens. While the character was hopscotching the globe, Bond's creator and some of the film franchise's vixens and villains were establishing roots right here on Long Island.
Fleming first visited Long Island during the early days of World War II. As part of his duties as an officer for Britain's Naval Intelligence Division, Fleming spent time at Salutations, which at the time was the Glen Cove estate of Junius Morgan, grandson of financier J.P. Morgan.
John Barry, the late Oscar-winning composer for many of the Bond films, may well have noodled many of those scores' first notes at his home in Oyster Bay, where he lived for more than 30 years beginning in 1980.
In a 1998 Newsday article, Barry, a native of England, explained that he chose Long Island over Los Angeles for his family's U.S. residence so he could be close to his good friend, famed lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. Barry died in Oyster Bay in January 2011.
Another notable link, which may have had the most significant long-range effect on the series, involves the late Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, a Long Island native who was co-founder and producer of the Bond films.
Broccoli's official biographies always mentioned that he was born and raised in Astoria, Queens. Indeed, in his own biography, "When the Snow Melts," Broccoli referred to it as Astoria, Long Island.
Broccoli's father toiled in construction in the early 1900s. The family lived in a home on, and helped cultivate, the Astoria farm belonging to Cubby's great uncle, whose prize crop was -- broccoli.
But eventually, Broccoli's parents saved enough money to buy their own field in Suffolk County.
"The farm my father bought was a modest spread of 25 acres at Lake Grove, close to Ronkonkoma," Broccoli would later recall. "It was right at the end of the Motor Parkway from Mineola. . . . Rough land which I guess at the time nobody wanted. But it looked good to the Broccolis."
Broccoli died in 1996 and is buried in California. His parents and a brother are buried in Sayville. His daughter, Barbara, and stepson, Michael G. Wilson, continue to run the 007 franchise.
When the film debuted, many moviegoers presumed that Bach, who portrayed Russian agent Anya Amasova, was a European model who had transitioned to acting, which indeed was the career path of many of Bond's female headliners.
In fact, Bach had worked extensively as a model in Europe since the late 1960s. But she was born in nearby Rosedale, Queens, the daughter of Marjorie and Howard Goldbach, and was well-acquainted with Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.
Moore's 'Live and Let' LI anecdotes
Actor Roger Moore's diary about the making of "Live and Let Die," which today is a rare Bond paperback collectible, shows that travel-related security headaches have been with us for quite a while, and that not even the world's longest-running film series is exempt:
" . . . A day of depression. I arrived at Kennedy Airport, where we were to film Bond's arrival at the Pan Am Terminal, to be greeted by long faces from Guy (Hamilton, the director) and Cubby. They had good reason for despair. Film of three days' work, including shooting in Harlem and expensive stunts, was at that moment being tested in a London laboratory with a worse-than-even chance that the film was ruined . . .
"Harry's [Saltzman] secretary, Sue Parker, carrying the rushes back to London, had been asked to open the canisters of film in a security check at Kennedy Airport, despite advance clearance from Customs. She refused to open them and explained that it would ruin the film. They were taken from her and put through the X-ray machine used to spot guns or bombs in baggage. The odds on undeveloped film going through an X-ray machine and coming out undamaged are low, and the first message was bad.
"By four o'clock we had moved to Central Park for some traveling shots and, after a miserably anxious day, the good news came. The film had been successfully screened in London."