By Bob Cameron
This article appeared in the Australian New Idea 10/11/1979
Some of the world’s top actors were more than a little miffed when the brash, rangy car salesman-cum-male model landed the role of James Bond, super spy.
George began his new life by selling used cars in an outer London suburb for 10 pounds a week. Then he was earning 30 pounds and, finally three or four times that figure selling Mercedes in Park Lane.
That was when a photographer spotted him. Most male models in London at that time were cast in the pretty-boy mould and this photographer was looking for someone rugged and aggressive.
George filled the bill. One cigarette company even paid him not to model – they were looking for a theme to suit him and didn’t want to lose him to rivals.
He bought an Aston Martin, made up the rules as he went along and thought that life was great. Then in walked James Bond with a martini, shaken not stirred in one hand and the inevitable beautiful girl in the other.
Cubby Broccoli had first seen George in an advertisement. There followed some fast talking by the boy from Goulburn.
George says those years were truly mad. He was offered $100,000 a day to appear in television advertisements but knocked it back. He left suitcases full of unworn clothes in hotel rooms as he headed for airports and his next slice of paradise.
He had a mania for buying wristwatches. Just about everyone wanted to know him, although tempers were flaring behind the scenes on the set.
And, of course, there were plenty of girls. Five of them were staying in his London house when Chrissie, the daughter of a three-times-married American socialite, came to dinner one night. She stayed, too, and unlike the others, she stayed when Bond walked out.
At that time, George was still being offered $300,000 to appear in Italian-made westerns. “But I was still on the Bond thing. I said no, what was $300,000 to me? Ironic, isn’t it – I ended up making Kung Fu movies in Hong Kong for less.”
Suddenly, the money was nearly all gone. He sank the last of his savings into a catamaran and he and Chrissie then went roving in the Mediterranean.
But George’s luck was still running out. He fell gravely ill with hepatitis and Chrissie nursed him back to health. “She’s the only real friend I’ve got,” said George.
Then Chrissie became pregnant despite the fact that doctors had told her she could never have a baby. They married and that little bundle of impossibility, Melanie, is now 5. Her brother Zachary is 4.
It’s 10 years since George and Chrissie met and they’re still very much living happily ever after.
During that time, George has been ‘broke’ twice and sunk some hard-earned money into lessons at a famous acting school in Los Angeles.
“The guy’s name is Charles Conrads. He’s terrific. The first thing he said to me was: ‘George you’re so boring I can’t stand it. If you’re going to keep on giving me those James Bond type looks, you’ll have to go.’
“I felt like punching him., of course, but he was only telling the truth. He took my ego apart and helped put me back together again.
“It’s hard to explain, but he shows you how to reach into your soul and really let go. And, when I finally did let myself go, it was terrific. All the kids in the class cheered. I’ve never felt anything like that before.”
George is now based in Sydney and, while he’s waiting for his second big break, he commutes to Hong Kong or America where he picks up some very handsome fees for cigarette or car advertisements.
Does he sometimes get the feeling that he’s come full circle?
“No, I feel I’ve got all that old rubbish out of my system. I’m trained now, not making up the rules as I go along, and I’m looking for something completely different. I want to do a George Segal or Cary Grant type comedy. Charles Conrads says I’ve got it in me.
“You know, I went to see this psychic once. I met her the day before it was announced I would be the next James Bond. It was a big secret. No one, least of all she, knew about it.
“But she predicted something very big would happen to me, then I would lose it all. She said I also would be very sick; and believe me, I was. She said lots of other things that have come about too. She said I’d have a second big break, and I believe her…”
It was time to close the interview. I asked for directions to the nearest bus stop. George looked bewildered, then appalled. “You’re not going to get the bus are you? I haven’t been on a bus since I first went to London.”
Bearing in mind his first profession, selling cars, I gently explained that I had never bothered learning to drive. He didn’t exactly go pale under his Californian tan, but said: “C’mon, I’ll drive you back to civilisation.”
No, there wasn’t a trace of an ejector seat.
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