James Bond is a fictional character created by novelist Ian Fleming in 1953. A British secret agent working for MI6 under the codename 007, he has been portrayed on film by actors Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig in twenty-seven productions.
From Ian Fleming, The New Yorker, 21 April 1962: “When I wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument … when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, [James Bond] is the dullest name I ever heard.”
Fleming actually took the name for his character from that of the American ornithologist James Bond, a Caribbean bird expert and author of the definitive field guide Birds of the West Indies; Fleming, a keen birdwatcher himself, had a copy of Bond’s guide and he told the ornithologist’s wife that he needed a dull Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name, and so a second James Bond was born”
The real James Bond (1900-1989) was an American ornithologist who served as curator of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Mr. Bond made his first scientific expedition in 1925 when he traveled up the Amazon River. He visited more than 100 Caribbean islands, collected 294 of the 300 bird species living there and wrote more than 100 books and scientific papers on Caribbean birds.
Ian Fleming did not ask permission to use the James Bond name and the real James Bond and Ian Fleming did not meet until years after the name became synonymous with 007. James Bond the ornithologist did not mind the use of the name and thought it was humorous. Ian Fleming later wrote Bond’s wife, saying ”I can only offer you or James Bond unlimited use of the name Ian Fleming for any purposes you may think fit. Perhaps one day your husband will discover a particularly horrible species of bird which he would like to christen in an insulting fashion by calling it Ian Fleming.”
The only reference to the real James Bond in any of 007’s movies is in the 2002 Bond film Die Another Day, in which 007, played by Pierce Brosnan, examines Birds of the West Indies in a scene that takes place in Havana, Cuba. The author’s name (James Bond) on the front cover is obscured.
I don’t know of any other ornithologist who became a fictional character in a book or movie, but there is a documentary movie about the real James Bond called The Real James Bond: Ian Fleming, Ornithology, and Conservation in the Caribbean. I also found a movie called The Ornithologist. I haven’t seen it and from the review, which makes it sound very strange, I don’t plan to see it. And then there is one called Soundman which is described this way.” A timid ornithology professor experiences technical difficulties during her PowerPoint presentation, leading to emotional unraveling and self-discovery in front of an impatient audience.” Maybe I better not watch this one.