James Bond was turned into the American “Jimmy Bond” for the American production of “Casino Royale” as part of CBS’s Climax!. As a result, the CIA agent Felix Leiter became the British agent Clarence Leiter, played by Australian actor Michael Pate. This version of Leiter in his black dinner suit follows the traditional look of James Bond more than Barry Nelson’s “Jimmy Bond” does in his buff dinner jacket. Though Leiter is not the main character, he is slightly better-tailored than the main character.
Leiter wears a black dinner suit and is the only of the main characters in “Casino Royale” to wear such. The dinner jacket is in the traditional style with a black satin silk shawl collar, a single button fastening on the front, jetted pockets, four buttons on each cuff and no vent in the rear. The trousers have tapered legs. The jacket’s cut is very trendy for 1954, with straight and padded shoulders, a full cut through the chest and body, and a long length. The cut of Leiter’s dinner jacket is similar to what Barry Nelson wears as Bond, but the full cut of Leiter’s dinner jacket is not as exaggerated.
The worst aspect of Leiter’s dinner jacket, however, is an incredibly low button stance. The button is placed only one-third of the jacket’s length from the bottom of the jacket. The dinner jacket’s only button is where the bottom button of a button two or button three jacket should be, and it’s over the hips! A low button stance lengthens the torso and gives it a more athletic look. But it also shortens the length of the legs and can make a man look top-heavy. Since Leiter is seen mostly from above the hips, the low button stance doesn’t present much of an issue on screen. And somehow Leiter is able to sit with the jacket buttoned, since such a low button stance does not allow the jacket to spread open in front when seated.
Leiter’s dress shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a wide placket with three black onyx studs. The front is not pleated, and it looks too soft to be marcella. Leiter wears a narrow black satin silk batwing bow tie, a puffed white handkerchief in his jacket’s breast pocket and a black satin silk cummerbund.
Michael Pate was in a lot of films and Tv series. He was Victorio the Apache chief in Hondo with John Wayne the same year he filmed this. Must of been one of the busiest supporting actors in Hollywood. One of the first Aussies in Hollywood, well Errol Flynn was there first of course.
I wonder if it would have worked if Pate and Nelson had swapped roles. Neither actor was particularly star material, but Pate looks more the Bond part with 50 years of hindsight. If you had to guess who was playing whom just from the pictures alone…
I’d like to see more of the adventures of this Clarence Leiter. I wonder if he ever made it into the double o-s….
You’re right about that jacket, he should’ve just worn it open.
I was wondering the same myself. But apparently Barry Nelson didn’t even know Bond was supposed to be English. He also wasn’t given much of a background for the character he was playing. Keep in mind most Americans hadn’t heard of the character at this point, Casino Royale wasn’t actually a big seller at bookstores until the films became an international hit. He also didn’t care for doing live television and was in fact trying to get out of it according to a later interview. All this may have contributed to his performance being “off”.
That said, it would have been better to swap roles indeed. I’d rather have the Australian playing an Englishmen, a la George Lazenby.