Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

(December 5, 1923–November 29, 2003): American character actor who portrayed CIA operative Felix Leiter in Diamonds Are Forever. Burton’s Leiter was similar to the version of the character introduced by Cec Linder in Goldfinger. In Diamonds Are Forever, however, Leiter is a little funnier and a bit more exasperated with his buddy 007 (Sean Connery). The fact that Bond has broken every law in the Las Vegas vehicle code has something to do with Leiter’s annoyance.

A New York City native, Burton made his feature debut as Thompkins the reporter in director W. Lee Wilder’s horror film Fright (1956). Moving frequently between increasingly more important film and television assignments (he played an office worker in “Miniature,” the Robert Duvall episode of The Twilight Zone), Burton put on full ape makeup as the hunt leader in the original Planet of the Apes (1968), and later was featured as Will Giddings opposite Paul Newman in The Towering Inferno (1974).

Sadly, Burton was killed in a car crash on the California/Arizona border while returning to his home in Mexico.


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