R.I.P. David Hedison, captain on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and ally of James Bond
Before David Hedison played Captain Lee Crane on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, he turned down the role. Hedison had starred in The Lost World, the 1960 big-screen adventure from pioneering sci-fi producer Irwin Allen. One year later, he was reluctant to jump back on a set with Allen for his next motion picture, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Irwin offered Hedison the role of Crane. Instead, Hedison jumped aboard a Korean War film called Marines, Let's Go. Robert Sterling instead played Crane in the movie.
But Allen would eventually get his man. When Voyage journeyed to television in 1964, Hedison finally stepped into the uniform and the role as the Captain. Of all the sci-fi shows on 1960s television, the underwater adventure Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is perhaps the most underrated. Not only was it the first TV endeavor of legendary action producer Irwin Allen, who would later create Lost in Space, but it was also his longest-running.
With four seasons to its name, it even outlasted Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek, which managed a mere three.
On the air (and, well, in the seas) in the heart of the 1960s, the series quickly evolved with the times. At first a black-and-white thriller rich with Cold War spy themes, Voyage eventually exploded with color and fantasy plots, bringing in werewolves, aliens, time travel, kaiju monsters and more.
Hedison appeared in all 110 episodes, alongside Richard Basehart, who played Admiral Nelson.
In his early television work, the Rhode Island native was billed as Al Hedison. He was billed as such when he landed the lead role — and turned into an insect — in The Fly (1958), the eerie metamorphosis horror film that spawned a John Carpenter remake decades later.
The following year, NBC forced a name change on the actor, who became known as David when he appeared in the network's espionage series Five Fingers (1959–60).
Speaking of spies, James Bond junkies will recognize Hedison as CIA buddy Felix Leiter in both Live and Let Die (1973) and License to Kill (1989).
Last week, Hedison passed away in Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 92.