Desmond Llewelyn

Family tree of Desmond Llewelyn


AmericanBorn Desmond Wilkinson Llewelyn

Welsh actor

Born on September 12, 1914 in Newport, Wales , United Kingdom

Died on December 19, 1999 in Firle, East Sussex, England , United Kingdom

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Desmond Wilkinson Llewelyn (Welsh: [ɬɛˈwɛlɪn]; 12 September 1914 – 19 December 1999) was a Welsh actor. He was best known for his role as Q in 17 of the James Bond films between 1963 and 1999.

...   Desmond Wilkinson Llewelyn (Welsh: [ɬɛˈwɛlɪn]; 12 September 1914 – 19 December 1999) was a Welsh actor. He was best known for his role as Q in 17 of the James Bond films between 1963 and 1999.


Early life
Llewelyn was born on 12 September 1914 at Blaen-y-Pant House in Bettws, Newport, Monmouthshire, the son of Mia (née Wilkinson) and Ivor Llewelyn. Desmond's father was a coal mining engineer, who notably purchased the very first Bentley production automobile, a Bentley 3-litre from W. O. Bentley in 1921. His paternal grandfather, Llewelyn Llewelyn of Kings Hill was the High Sheriff of Monmouthshire as well as General Manager of the Powell-Dyffryn Steam Coal Company.
While Llewelyn originally wanted to be a minister, he became involved in theatrical productions during his education at Radley College. Initially working as a stagehand, he was encouraged to take on more acting roles by his fellow pupil Dennis Price. During his education, Llewelyn gained renown as a skilled sportsman, particularly as a rugby player and he remained a fan of the game throughout his life. The young Llewelyn would play rugby for Newport RFC and can be seen wearing the club tie in The Living Daylights as well as that of Malpas Cricket Club in Octopussy.Despite the objections of his father Llewelyn decided to pursue an acting career, and was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1934. In 1937 Llewelyn found work with a number of small stage roles, working with Matthew Forsyth and the Forsyth Players, and it was through this company that Llewelyn met Pamela Mary Pantlin whom he married in 1938. The following year, Llewelyn appeared in his first feature film, the British comedy Ask a Policeman.

Second World War
Llewelyn's nascent acting career was paused by the outbreak of war in 1939, when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. In 1940 his unit was engaged in fighting an entire Panzer division for several days near the French city of Lille, but they were overrun in attempting to retreat to Dunkirk, and Llewelyn was captured. He spent the remainder of the war in prisoner of war camps, first at Laufen, before he was transferred to Colditz Castle (Oflag IV-C) following his attempted escape from Laufen by tunnelling out. Llewelyn remained imprisoned at Colditz until it was liberated by Allied forces in 1945.

Acting career
After the war Llewelyn continued his career as an actor, returning to television work in Sir Robert Atkins' 1946 film of A Midsummer Night's Dream. He also acted on stage with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, before appearing in Olivier's 1948 film Hamlet. Llewelyn continued to gain work in television, notably portraying Mr Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as well as roles in TV series My Wife Jacqueline, The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Invisible Man.In 1950, Llewelyn drew on both his war experience and Welsh background to play a supporting role as "'77 Jones" a Welsh tank commander in the film They Were Not Divided directed by Terence Young. Throughout the 1950s Llewelyn appeared in a number of small roles in films such as The Lavender Hill Mob, Valley of Song, A Night to Remember, Knights of the Round Table, Sword of Sherwood Forest and an appearance in The Curse of the Werewolf the 1961 Hammer Horror film.

James Bond series

In 1963 Terence Young asked Llewelyn to read for the part of Quartermaster Major Boothroyd in the second official film in the Bond film series, From Russia with Love. Both Young and Ian Fleming wanted 'Q' portrayed with a strong Welsh accent (as Llewelyn used while working with Young on They Were Not Divided). Llewelyn disagreed, persuading them that the character should have an upper-class English accent. Despite this, Llewelyn was chosen for the role.Llewelyn would become a staple of the film series for over thirty years, playing 'Q' the quartermaster of the MI6 from 1963 until 1999. Llewelyn appeared in every EON film production except 1973's Live and Let Die, in which the character did not appear.
His last appearance as Q prior to his death was in The World Is Not Enough in 1999. During his briefing of 007 in the film, Q introduces John Cleese's character, R, as his heir presumptive, and the film alludes to Q's retirement, to which Bond, after seeing Q, expresses his hope that it will not be any time soon. Q's response is to admonish Bond to "always have an escape plan", after which he lowers himself through the floor of his lab. Llewelyn had stated not long before his death that he had no plans to retire and that he would continue playing Q "as long as the producers want me and the Almighty (God) doesn't."In 1967, Llewelyn portrayed 'Q' alongside Lois Maxwell's Miss Moneypenny in an EON produced television documentary entitled Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond. This promotional film was included in the 2006 Special Edition DVD release of You Only Live Twice. He would play the role of 'Q' in seventeen films, more than any other actor and playing opposite five iterations of the James Bond character in Sir Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Sir Roger Moore, fellow Welshman Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan.
Although Llewelyn became one of British cinema's most recognisable characters and an important and long-standing element in the 'Bond' franchise, 'Q' did not make Llewelyn rich—the actor was merely paid 'by the day' for his few hours of work on-set and did not share in the money made by the films. Nevertheless, because Llewelyn was considered one of the franchise's major institutions and also immensely popular among Bond fans, Llewelyn starred in several commercials, including ones to promote the video games GoldenEye 007 and Tomorrow Never Dies.

Other roles
Llewellyn continued to act in other roles throughout his tenure as 'Q', notably appearing the 1963 film Cleopatra (as a Roman senator), and the 1981 PBS production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and he had a small role in the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), which was itself based on a children's book by Bond author Ian Fleming. Llewelyn would also appear as Geoffrey Maddocks ('The Colonel') in the British television series Follyfoot from 1971 to 1973, and the BBC Wales production The Life and Times of David Lloyd George with Philip Madoc.
The Bond film Live and Let Die was filmed during the third series of Follyfoot, and Llewelyn was written out of the series for three episodes so he could appear in the film. However, the Bond producers ultimately decided to leave the character out of the film anyway, much to Llewelyn's annoyance.He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1995 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel at London's Hyde Park Hotel, during a press launch for the new Bond film, GoldenEye.

Personal life
Llewelyn married Pamela Mary Pantlin in Kensington in May 1938. The couple had two sons, Charles Ivor (b. 1949) and Justin Cather (1953-2012). Despite playing an inventor in the Bond films, Llewelyn always maintained that he was totally lost in the world of technology, a trait that also plagued his successors, John Cleese and Ben Whishaw. A biography entitled Q: The Biography of Desmond Llewelyn was written by Sandy Hernu, and subsequently released on 1 November 1999.

On 19 December 1999, Llewelyn was driving alone from a book signing event when his Renault Mégane collided head-on with a Fiat Bravo on the A27 near the village of Berwick, East Sussex. Llewelyn sustained massive internal injuries and was airlifted by helicopter to Eastbourne District General Hospital, where he died soon afterward at the age of 85. The driver of the Fiat, a 35-year-old man, was seriously injured but survived; a woman in her thirties was also in the Fiat and suffered minor injuries. An inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death.Llewelyn's death occurred three weeks after the premiere of The World Is Not Enough. Roger Moore, who starred with Llewelyn in six of his seven Bond films, spoke at his funeral on 6 January 2000 at St Mary the Virgin Church in Battle, Sussex. The service was followed by a private cremation at Hastings Crematorium, with the ashes given to Llewelyn's family.His widow, Pamela Mary Llewelyn, died in East Sussex in 2001, also aged 85. His son, Justin Llewelyn, died in 2012, aged 59.

Selected filmography

Other appearances


External links

Obituary at Archived 28 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine
Desmond Llewelyn at IMDb
Desmond Llewelyn at the BFI's Screenonline
The Follyfoot forum

Biography from Wikipedia (see original) under licence CC BY-SA 3.0


Geographical origins

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