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

(March 10, 1921–April 10, 1992; birth name: Cecil Yekuthial Linder) Canadian character actor of Polish heritage—his first name is pronounced “CEESE,” short for Cecil—who portrayed CIA field agent Felix Leiter in Goldfinger. Always dapper in a business suit and fedora, Linder’s Leiter is a very businesslike, by-the-rules kind of guy who respects 007 (Sean Connery) and his risky, no-holds-barred form of espionage. In many ways, he’s probably the quintessential working CIA man of the Kennedy era, more apt to make a phone call than use his fists. Leiter keeps track of Bond when he’s captured by Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), and it is Leiter who calls the shots during the US Army’s counterattack on Goldfinger’s Operation Grand Slam at Fort Knox.

Linder was actually originally cast as Mr. Simmons, the mark whom Goldfinger cheats at cards, but at the last minute he was switched with the actor cast as Leiter, Austin Willis. Willis wasn’t pleased to be moved into the much smaller role of Simmons. “He had a right to be upset,” remembered Linder. “He got a few days on the picture, but I ended up with twelve weeks.”[1]

Linder and Willis were the only two actors sent to Florida for the US shoot. Guy Hamilton’s crew shot at the Fontainebleau Hotel pool, where producer Harry Saltzman loaned Linder his fedora for his introductory walk-by. They filmed the chase between Leiter and Oddjob, which concluded at a wrecking yard, with a double standing in for Harold Sakata. They also shot a brief sequence in front of a diner, where Leiter gets the word from his partner that Bond’s signal is moving. Everything else with the actors was shot in England, including the thrilling assault on Fort Knox, which was built full size on the backlot at Pinewood Studios.

Unfortunately, Linder was not asked to play Leiter on the next film, Thunderball; he was replaced by the hunky Rik Van Nutter. Recalled Linder, “I guess they wanted a younger guy, someone who could fight sharks and that kind of thing.”

A native of Timmons, Ontario, Linder appeared in a number of television shows before making his motion picture debut as Captain Dan Carver in director Sam Newfield’s western Flaming Frontier (1958), which also featured future Bond player Shane Rimmer as Running Bear. Linder’s additional feature film credits include Crack in the Mirror (1960), with his future Goldfinger mate Austin Willis; Lolita (1962), with fellow Bond players Irvin Allen (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), Lois Maxwell, and Ed Bishop; The Verdict (1964), with fellow Bond players Zena Marshall and Paul Stassino; Zabriskie Point (1970); A Touch of Class (1973); Age of Innocence (1977), with fellow Goldfinger veterans Honor Blackman and Lois Maxwell; and Atlantic City (1980).

[1] Cec Linder, telephone interview by Steven Jay Rubin, July 17, 1989.


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