You Only Live … then again, maybe not

16 Sep

Image“You Only Live Twice or so it seems,” was the beginning lyric to the fifth in the series of James Bond Films. Sean Connery announced this would be the last time he would play the role of Bond. Connery returned however, living twice more in the role, Diamonds Are Forever and the non-Eon Bond film Never Say Never Again. The film was developed out of sequence with the books. It was originally written to follow Dr. No.

The significance in writing this leads up to an event in which I missed the announcement of Kenneth Wallis death (1916-2013). Ken Wallis was the stunt double for Sean Connery in this movie, flying Little Nellie, a fully functional autogyro. It was a very clever tool in Bond’s arsenal.

Wallis flew 28 missions for the Royal Air Force over Germany, reaching the rank of wing commander. After the war he designed, built and flew autogyros, which he insisted were practical and not a toy. He attached a variety of apparatus including, ground-penetrating radar used to help investigators search for corpses and anthropologists find lost Roman settlements. He also used scanning equipment to search for the Loch Ness monster. In spite of his aid in the search, not one was found.

Ken_Wallis_stuntman_You_Only_Live_TwiceMr. Wallis was initially rejected by the Royal Air Force because he was blind in one eye, but cheated on the military eye test to get in. He became known as “Crasher Wallis” because he had so many crashes, however he and his crew always escaped safely. Several years after the war he was given a two-year assignment with the Strategic Air Command in the United States. His commanding officer, Gen. Curtis LeMay, liked the inveterate tinkerer. Wallis brought over a vehicle which had been converted into a tow truck from a 1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Wallis had rebuilt it as a one-of-a-kind vehicle, incorporating airplane equipment, and named it the “Long Dog”. General LeMay, also a sports car enthusiast, asked him to drive it with him around the country to auto shows and rallies.

Ken Wallis flying his autogyro

Ken Wallis flying in his autogyro

Bond: Little Nellie got a hot reception. Four big shots made improper advances toward her, but she defended her honour with great success.





 James Bond learning about the autogyro

Q educating Bond on Little Nellie

Blofeld: James Bond. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld. They told me you were assassinated in Hong Kong.
Bond: Yes, this is my second life.
Blofeld: You only live twice, Mr. Bond.


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2 responses to “You Only Live … then again, maybe not

  1. Chris Barfoot

    17/09/2013 at 00:35

    I didn’t know that… amazing character.

    • mlvngstn

      17/09/2013 at 01:10

      There were a lot of men and women that came out of the war with the ‘right stuff’. This served them well in later years. I was privileged to know a few of these WWII veterans.

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