British actor John Richardson, who once screen-tested for James Bond, dies

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

John Richardson, british, actor, dies, james bond

British actor John Richardson, probably best known for starring opposite Ursula Andress in She and Raquel Welch in One Million B.C., passed away on Tuesday from complications of COVID-19 at the age of 86.

"Cinema Retro" writer Mark Mawston was the first to report the actor's death and revealed that his death comes just two weeks before what would have been his 87th birthday. John's partner, Helen, felt it would be fitting that the announcement of his death came via "Cinema Retro" and Mawston because the writer had become very close to the actor after interviewing him. 

Richardson was born in Sussex on January 19, 1934, and the actor started out with small roles in such films as A Night to Remember, the 1959 remake of The 39 Steps, and The League of Gentlemen. He also had uncredited roles in Tender Is the Night and Lord Jim. His break out role would come in the film She, opposite Ursula Andress in 1965.

Richardson portrayed a doctor's assistant whose blood inadvertently brings vampiric witch (Barbara Steele) back to life in the Italian horror classic Black Sunday, released in 1960. In 1965, Richardson played an archeologist who discovers a lost city rule by the immortal queen Ayesha (Andress) in She, which also featured Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. She came from Hammer Films and Seven Arts producer Ray Stark which made it easy to cast him in another one of their projects called One Million Years B.C. In the film, Richard donned a loincloth and co-starred alongside Raquel Welch and stop-motion dinosaurs animated by Ray Harryhausen.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit about Richardson is that he screen-tested for James Bond after Sean Connery gave up the role, but model George Lazenby was hired instead to star opposite Diana Rigg in Our Majesty's Secret Service in 1969. If you look at pictures of Richardson during that time period, it's easy to see why he would've even been considered to play 007 as he definitely had the movie star good looks to take on the role.

Richardson last appeared onscreen in 1994 and, according to the piece written about the actor for "Cinema Retro", shifted his focus to photography in his later years. The article says "John's time as a movie star led to several iconic roles on screen but it was his work as a photographer that he was most passionate about and through this he has left us with many more iconic images that he took from behind a lens."

R.I.P. John Richardson

Source: Hollywood Reporter, Cinema Retro

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