Calendar | Menus | Graduations

"The little-known secrets behind the men & women who shaped America"

Secret agent's art imitated his lifestyle as a spy

By Paul Niemann

Send a link to a friend

[July 24, 2008]  With the "Get Smart" movie in theaters all over the country this summer, I think it's about time that we take a look at a truly great secret agent.

CivicThis story has nothing to do with Maxwell Smart, though.

This story is about a secret agent who, in real life, was a director of British naval intelligence during World War II. His name was Ian, which, if you're from Great Britain, you know is a fairly common name for a man.

After retiring from the Navy, Ian became a writer. He was a very successful writer, as his books have sold more than 30 million copies. Despite his success, the literary industry looked down on his books.

Ian's grandfather founded the Scottish American Investment Trust in his native Scotland in 1873, when he was just 28 years old. He also helped finance America's reconstruction after the Civil War. His business went on to become a huge success, and it is still doing well today as an investment and merchant bank.


Ian's father, whose first name was Valentine, was a member of British Parliament and a friend of Winston Churchill's. He served in World War I but was killed in combat. Churchill wrote an obituary for Ian's father which Ian kept with him for the rest of his life.

Ian was born in London, England, in 1908 and he had three brothers. Like his father, he served in World War II. After the war, Ian moved to the north coast of Jamaica and built his home, which he named Goldeneye. This is where he began writing the stories about his famous alter ego.

Not to change the subject, but have you ever wondered why certain movies feature new inventions and gadgets that seemed like they were created just for the movie? The 1968 children's film "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and the James Bond movies are two perfect examples. "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" featured a popular inventor played by Dick Van Dyke, while the Bond movies featured the coolest high-tech gadgets that were years ahead of their time.


[to top of second column]



Nursing Homes

Not really, because both of these shows were created by the same person. His name?

Fleming. Ian Fleming.

I mentioned earlier that Ian was a spy for British naval intelligence during World War II. As is the case with James Bond, it's easy for life to imitate art when the person creating the art is writing about his own life.

While his greatest "invention" was James Bond, Ian never invented any gadgets in real life. He commanded Desmond Llewelyn's character, Q, to equip Bond with all the coolest gadgets that any self-respecting spy could ever want, such as the ejector seat in his Aston Martin car, the specially equipped briefcase, the ski pole gun, the acid pen and the Omega watch with a laser. Here is some interesting trivia about Ian Feming's James Bond ... trivia that any loyal Bond fan already knows:
  • Ian Fleming named the James Bond character after the author of "Birds of the West Indies." He wanted a dull, plain name for the character.


  • Fleming attended Eton, which is the same school that Prince Harry attended.

  • Two of the Bond actors, Sean Connery and Roger Moore, have been knighted.

  • Cary Grant was one of the actors that Sean Connery beat out for the role of Bond.

  • As a boy, Sean Connery delivered milk to the school that the real-life James Bond attended -- Fettes School -- which is the same school that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair attended.

  • Sean Connery's son, Jason, portrayed Ian Fleming in the film "Spymaker."

  • There were five different actors who played James Bond during the first 19 official Bond movies, but there was only one actor who played Q during that time: Desmond Llewelyn. His Q character was also known as Maj. Boothroyd.


Paul Niemann's column is syndicated to more than 70 newspapers. He is the author of the "Invention Mysteries" series of books. He can be reached at

Copyright Paul Niemann 2008

(Other columns)

Auto Repair

< Recent articles

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor