(May 1, 1929–October 15, 2005; birth name: Frederick Allen Nutter): Handsome, silver-haired American actor, briefly in feature films, who portrayed Felix Leiter in Thunderball. Van Nutter (pronounced “Van NOOT-er”) was married to actress Anita Ekberg in the early 1960s, and it was through the couple’s friendship with Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and his wife, Dana, that Van Nutter was first considered for the role of Leiter.
“We were having one of those immense Italian dinners in London with Cubby and Dana,” recalled Van Nutter, “when Cubby suddenly came out and said that I looked just like Felix Leiter. Now, I had read all of the Bond books, and I knew that Felix had straw-colored hair, blue eyes, and long legs. So I fit the bill physically. I later met [Thunderball director] Terence Young, who tested me with some of the Bond girls. The tests worked out fine, and I made plans to travel to Nassau that spring of 1965.”
A native of Los Angeles, Van Nutter made his uncredited motion picture debut as Victor in the Italian horror comedy Uncle Was a Vampire (1959), which also featured future Bond player Christopher Lee as Baron Roderico da Frankurten.