Wiseman in 1950
May 15, 1918|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Died||October 19, 2009
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||(?-?; divorced; 1 child)
Nell Kinard (1943-?; divorced)
Pearl Lang (1964-2009; her death)
Joseph Wiseman (May 15, 1918 – October 19, 2009) was a Canadian theater and film actor, best known for starring as the titular antagonist of the first James Bond film, Dr. No, his role as Manny Weisbord on the TV series Crime Story, and his career on Broadway. He was once called "the spookiest actor in the American theater".
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Orthodox Jewish parents, Louis and Pearl Rubin (née Ruchwarger), Wiseman grew up in New York. At age 16, he began performing in summer stock and became professional, which displeased his parents.
Wiseman made his Broadway debut in 1938, playing a small part in Robert E. Sherwood's Abe Lincoln in Illinois. Among the many productions he appeared in during a long career in live theatre, were the title role in In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer on Broadway in 1968, and the role of Father Massieu in the original Broadway production of Joan of Lorraine, the Maxwell Anderson play which eventually became the film Joan of Arc.
Wiseman appeared in several films in the 1950s. He made his first major film appearance in 1951's Detective Story, where he recreated his performance from Broadway as an unstable small-time hood. Soon after, he played Marlon Brando's archenemy in Viva Zapata! (1952). Wiseman's most famous role as the titular Dr. No in the first James Bond film by Eon Productions came from producer Harry Saltzman, who cast Wiseman in the role in December 1961. It was Wiseman's performance in Detective Story that won him the part. (Later in his life, he viewed the film with disdain, and preferred to be remembered for his theater career.)
In 1967, he was cast as Billy Minsky's father in The Night They Raided Minsky's, later he appeared opposite Sir Laurence Olivier in The Betsy (1978). Wiseman had roles in a wide variety of other films: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Bye Bye Braverman, and guest-starring roles in the TV series The Streets of San Francisco, The Untouchables, Crime Story, an episode of The Twilight Zone ("One More Pallbearer"), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Night Gallery. His last film was made in 1988, though he appeared in TV shows such as MacGyver, L.A. Law, and Law & Order after that time. Wiseman's last appearance on television was the supporting role of Seymour Bergreen on a 1996 episode of Law & Order titled "Family Business". His last Broadway appearance was in Judgment at Nuremberg in 2001.
Wiseman married Nell Kinard on August 28, 1943; they divorced. He was married to dancer, teacher and choreographer Pearl Lang from 1964 until her death in February 2009. Wiseman died on October 19, 2009 at his home in Manhattan, having been in declining health for some time. He is survived by his daughter, Martha Graham Wiseman, and his sister, Ruth Wiseman.
- Greatest American Hero: Episode: "Don't Mess Around with Jim" (1981)
- The Untouchables: Episode: "The Antidote" (1961)
- The Twilight Zone: Episode: "One More Pallbearer" (1962) - Paul Radin
- Brustein, Robert (December 26, 1964). "Muddy Track at Lincoln Center". The New Republic 151 (26): 26–27.
- Bernstein, Adam (October 21, 2009). "Accomplished Broadway actor immortalized Bond's Dr. No". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- "Joseph Wiseman Biography (1918-2009)". mi6-hq.com. October 20, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
- McLellan, Dennis (October 21, 2009). "Joseph Wiseman dies at 91; actor played villain in first Bond film starring Sean Connery". latimes.com. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- Fox, Margalit (October 20, 2009). "Joseph Wiseman, James Bond’s Dr. No, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
- Joseph Wiseman at the Internet Movie Database
- Joseph Wiseman at the Internet Broadway Database
- Joseph Wiseman at AllMovie
- The O'Neill Theater Center