The James Bonds Who Won’t Be at the Oscar Tribute

David Niven, left, with John Huston on the set of ‘Casino Royale’ in London in 1966. (AP Images)

After weeks of speculation that all six James Bonds might appear at the Oscars, the latest word is that there will not be a 007 reunion this Sunday.

“It’s something else, something very unique and very exciting but no, we’re not getting the Bonds together,” show producer Craig Zadan told Deadline.

The “something very unique” could very well involve a different kind of reunion – of Bond theme music performers. It was announced last month that Adele will be singing the Skyfall theme song at the ceremony, and, more recently, producers said that Shirley Bassey, who sang the famous title song for Goldfinger, as well as the opening songs for Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker, will make her first appearance at the Academy Awards. This week, there have been some unconfirmed rumors that Tom Jones, who sang Thunderball, will also be joining the 50th James Bond celebration segment.

But let’s go back to the “no, we’re not getting the Bonds together” statement for a moment, shall we?

Mr. Zadan’s statement doesn’t mean that there will be no Bonds at the Academy Awards, does it? Would it even be possible to have a Bond-free 007 Oscar tribute? As we pointed out last week, it would be a big deal if Sean Connery showed up – and there have been no reports to contradict the ones from last month that he had not turned down an invitation. So we’re thinking that could still happen.

But in the interests of accuracy here, we feel compelled to point out what any Bond fan knows: the six James Bond actors everyone had been hoping would attend the Oscars are, of course, the official, or, shall we say canonical, Bonds. They’re the ones in the movies produced by Eon Productions, the company of Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, now run by Broccoli’s family. But there have been other Bonds outside of the Eon aegis – Sean Connery himself was one when he made Never Say Never Again in 1983.

David Niven was another. Niven, who was reportedly Ian Fleming’s early choice to play 007, was cast as a stuttering James Bond in the tedious 1967 spoof Casino Royale, which had been optioned early on by non-Eon producer Charles Feldman. Niven was joined by five other actors who played Bond, including Peter Sellers and – not a misprint - Ursula Andress, Dr. No‘s legendary Bond girl. “Casino Royale is too much…for one James Bond,” boasted the tagline for the movie. Woody Allen plays 007’s nephew, Jimmy Bond.

Speaking of Jimmy Bond, that was the name given to the character in the first screen adaptation of one of Fleming’s books. The very first person ever to play James Bond on screen – and thus the answer to one of pop culture’s greatest trivia questions – was actually an American. Actor Barry Nelson played 007 in a 1953 television adaptation of Casino Royale, which also starred Peter Lorre as the bad guy Le Chiffre.

Of course, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that none of the “apocryphal” Bonds will show up in Hollywood on Sunday. Niven and Sellers died in the 1980s, and Nelson died in 2007. Woody Allen, despite three Oscars and 21 nominations, has only gone to the Academy Awards once, to honor New York City after September 11. And although we suspect Ursula Andress might actually be there, it would certainly be for an altogether different reason.