Billionaire recluse portrayed effectively by Jimmy Dean in Diamonds Are Forever. Based loosely on Howard Hughes, who was producer Albert R. Broccoli’s boss in the 1940s, Whyte is the perfect kidnap victim for Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray), who is once again at work on an international blackmail scheme. Since no one has seen Whyte for five years, Blofeld finds it easy to take over his global empire, especially when he’s supplied with a computerized voice sampler that perfectly duplicates Whyte’s vocal patterns. Whyte is involved in many fields, but it is his aerospace business and ties to the US Air Force that help Blofeld easily launch a laser satellite powered by the diamonds he has been stealing from a crime syndicate. That satellite becomes the instrument of Blofeld’s latest blackmail scheme.
Whyte is finally rescued by James Bond (Sean Connery), who has to get past his two acrobatic bodyguards, Bambi (Lola Larson) and Thumper (Trina Parks). Returning to his penthouse in Las Vegas, Whyte takes one look at a huge map of his holdings and discovers one element he doesn’t recognize: an oil-drilling platform in Baja California, a clue that leads Bond to Blofeld’s final command post.
Broccoli’s familiarity with Howard Hughes was certainly a plus when it came time to create the character of Willard Whyte. In fact, a dream Broccoli had one night inspired the entire project. In the dream, Broccoli was paying a visit to Hughes in his permanent hotel suite at the Las Vegas Desert Inn. As Broccoli walked past a window, he saw the back of Hughes’s head. However, when the man turned around, it wasn’t Hughes. The vision jolted Broccoli and compelled him to contact Richard Maibaum, who was preparing the story for the new Bond film, and suggest the idea of someone replacing a reclusive billionaire. Maibaum had, at one point, considered introducing the evil twin brother of Auric Goldfinger as the villain in Diamonds, but Broccoli’s dream was a more attractive idea, and thus Willard Whyte was born.