Images: The Everett Collection
Everyone has a favorite James Bond. But your taste in Bonds might have more to do with the films themselves than the men in the role. Those who prefer a grittier, knotty spy tale might gravitate towards Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig and George Lazenby. Those looking for laughs along with their gadgets opt for Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Of course, the popular choice is the original, Sean Connery, who tonally sits somewhere in between.
James Bond adventures have always been a blend of humor and action. 007's aims his wit just as well as his Walther PPK. That mix was hardly novel. Maverick perfectly balanced punches and punchlines in the Wild West for five seasons, from 1957 to 1962. The beloved series ended just before Dr. No, the first Bond flick, premiered. In some way, the Maverick boys passed the torch to Bond, in term of luring audiences with a taste for clever action heroes. Not to mention a fair amount of gambling. Maverick and Bond are both known for their card skills.
The parallels are all the more evident when you remember that a James Bond star played one of the Maverick clan. Roger Moore joined the Western in season four, in 1960, as Beau Maverick, cousin to brothers Bart (Jack Kelly) and Bret (James Garner). Moore hopped aboard just as Garner was leaving the series. The British actor literally filled the clothes of Garner. He recalled the name "James Garner" being scratched out on his wardrobe.
But Moore was not the only actor from the U.K. considered for a part. Producers first offered a role to a certain Scottish up-and-comer. His name was Connery, Sean Connery.
Biographer Michael Feeney Callan explained in his book Sean Connery: "[Connery was] offered long-term Hollywood television contracts, for Maverick and Wyatt Earp. Those proposed deals were financially modest, but either would have guaranteed him the permanent access to Hollywood he sought."
The studio flew Connery across the Atlantic. The actor enjoyed his free trip — but turned down the role. Callan explained that Connery felt he would be "short-selling himself to American television." And he wanted to be closer to his flame, Diane Cilento.
This, Moore landed the gig. Connery went on to become James Bond… until Roger Moore filled his shoes. But hopefully, this time, the studio got him his own new clothing.