(March 12, 1923–October 16, 1992): Sleepy-eyed character actor of Armenian, Scottish, and Austrian descent who portrayed SPECTRE master planner and chess wizard Kronsteen in From Russia with Love. When the film was released in 1963, a number of moviegoers who had never seen a James Bond movie before thought that Sheybal was Bond. After all, his character is introduced at the beginning of the film in an intense chess match, looking like a secret agent with his enigmatic expression and dapper attire, and he’s summoned to a luxurious yacht anchored in the harbor in Venice. However, when he starts talking, you soon realize that this is one of a long series of Bond villains. Sheybal was perfectly cast in the role as the man who treats espionage as a chess game.
He also appeared in the 1967 spoof version of Casino Royale, playing the associate of Le Chiffre (Orson Welles) who is sent to West Berlin to auction off compromising photographs and state secrets, only to find his scheme short-circuited by Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet).
A native of Zgierz, Lódzkie, Poland, Sheybal made his motion picture debut in Kanal (1957), a Polish film that dramatized the events of the Warsaw Uprising during World War II. From Russia with Love was his English-language film debut. Sheybal’s additional feature credits include Billion Dollar Brain (1967); Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969); The Last Valley (1971); Puppet on a Chain (1971); Scorpio (1973); S*P*Y*S (1974); The Wind and the Lion (1975), as the Bashaw of Tangier; Avalanche Express (1979); and Red Dawn (1984), as Bratchenko the Russian.