Joseph Wiseman

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Joseph Wiseman
Wiseman in 1950
Born(1918-05-15)May 15, 1918
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
DiedOctober 19, 2009(2009-10-19) (aged 91)
Years active1950–2001
Nell Kinard
(m. 1943; div. 1964)

(m. 1964; died 2009)

Joseph Wiseman (May 15, 1918 – October 19, 2009) was a Canadian-American theatre, film, and television actor who starred as the villain Julius No in the first James Bond film, Dr. No, in 1962. Wiseman was also known for 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 theatre".[2]

Early life[edit]

Wiseman was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to parents Louis and Pearl Wiseman and was raised in New York City, United States.[3] At age 16, he began performing in summer stock and became professional, which displeased his parents.

He was an alumnus of John Adams High School, Queens, New York, and was graduated June 1935,[4] as was his Dr. No co-star, Jack Lord.


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 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 role as the titular Dr. No in the first James Bond film by Eon Productions was a decision of producer Harry Saltzman, who cast Wiseman in the role in December 1961. It was Wiseman's performance in Detective Story that gained him the part.[5] (Later in his life, he viewed the film with disdain, and preferred to be remembered for his theater career.[6])

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, Seize the Day, Bye Bye Braverman. In addition to being a regular on the series Crime Story, he had guest-starring and cameo roles in TV series including The Westerner; The Streets of San Francisco; The Untouchables; The Twilight Zone ("One More Pallbearer"); Magnum, P.I.; Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; and Night Gallery. His last film was released 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.

Following the death of Charles Gray in 2000, Wiseman was the last surviving main villain of the James Bond films that Sean Connery made for United Artists.

Personal life and death[edit]

Wiseman married Nell Kinard on August 25, 1943, in New York, but they eventually divorced May 15, 1964, in Durham, NC.[7] He was married to dancer, teacher, and choreographer Pearl Lang from 1964 until her death in February 2009.[8] He had a daughter with Kinard, Martha Graham Wiseman.[8]

Wiseman died on October 19, 2009, at his home in Manhattan aged 91, having been in declining health for some time.[8]


TV (Selected)[edit]

  • The Untouchables: Episode: "The Antidote" (1961) as Russell Shield
  • The Untouchables: Episode: "The Tommy Karpeles Story" (1961) as Albert Maris
  • The Twilight Zone: Episode: "One More Pallbearer" (1962) as Paul Radin
  • Wagon Train: Episode: "The Santiago Quesada Story" (1964) as Jim Case
  • Men of the Dragon (1974 ABC Movie of the Week) as Balashev
  • QB VII (1974, Mini-series) as Morris Cady
  • Zalmen or the Madness of God (1975, Broadway Theatre Archive) as Rabbi
  • Greatest American Hero: Episode: "Don't Mess Around with Jim" (1981) as James J. Beck
  • Magnum, P.I.: Episode: "Birdman of Budapest" (1983) as Dr. Albert Tessa
  • A-Team: Episode: "The Bells of St. Mary's" (1984) as Zeke Westerland
  • The Equalizer: Episode: "The Confirmation Day" (1985) as Eddie Vanessi
  • Crime Story (1988) as Manny Weisbord
  • MacGyver: Episode: "The Battle of Tommy Giordano" (1989) as Joe Catano
  • L.A. Law: Season 8, Episode 22, "Finish Line" (1994) as Isidore Schoen
  • Law & Order: Season 7, Episode 8, "Family Business" (1996) as Seymour Bergreen (final appearance)


  1. ^ Bernstein, Adam (21 October 2009). "Joseph Wiseman, Broadway actor who played Dr. No, dies at 91" – via
  2. ^ Brustein, Robert (December 26, 1964). "Muddy Track at Lincoln Center". The New Republic. Vol. 151, no. 26. pp. 26–27.
  3. ^ Bernstein, Adam (October 21, 2009). "Accomplished Broadway actor immortalized Bond's Dr. No". Retrieved December 19, 2010.
  4. ^ John Adams Clipper Yearbook June 1935
  5. ^ "Joseph Wiseman Biography (1918-2009)". October 20, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
  6. ^ McLellan, Dennis (October 21, 2009). "Joseph Wiseman dies at 91; actor played villain in first Bond film starring Sean Connery". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
  7. ^ "Join Ancestry®".
  8. ^ a b c Fox, Margalit (October 20, 2009). "Joseph Wiseman, James Bond's Dr. No, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2009.

External links[edit]