(August 25, 1934–April 28, 1999): Two-time Oscar-winning British special effects expert who worked on the first six James Bond movies. Stears created and destroyed the miniature bauxite mine for Dr. No; blew up the SPECTRE helicopter and speedboats in From Russia with Love; flew the private and presidential jets in Goldfinger; and destroyed the Disco Volante hydrofoil and cocoon in Thunderball, for which he won his first Oscar. On You Only Live Twice, with its outer space sequences and helicopter chases, he would be kept particularly busy. And that space experience would be advantageous later in his career, when he was called on to create the effects for George Lucas’s Star Wars, for which he won his second Oscar for special effects. Stears also worked on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. His crew throughout his Bond association included Frank George (engineer and effects), Jimmy Snow (floor effects and engineer), Bert Luxford (engineer), Joe Fitt (prop man and effects), and Charlie Dodds (effects rigger).
A native of Uxbridge, Hillingdon, Middlesex, England, Stears made his motion picture debut as a model aircraft builder for future 007 director Lewis Gilbert on the biographical war drama Reach for the Sky (1956), a film that featured future Bond players Sydney Tafler (The Spy Who Loved Me), Eric Pohlmann (From Russia with Love), and Peter Burton (Dr. No). He returned to work with Gilbert on the splendid Sink the Bismarck! (1960), then made his special effects debut on producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman’s Bob Hope comedy Call Me Bwana (1963).