Earl Cameron, who was one of the first Black actors to perform in mainstream British films and played supporting roles to enduring entertainment icons such as James Bond and the title character in Doctor Who before appearing in the UN thriller The Interpreter in his 80s, has died. He was 102.
Cameron died Friday, according to The Royal Gazette, a newspaper in his native Bermuda. The British newspaper The Guardian, quoting the actor’s agent, said he died at home in Warwickshire, England.
Cameron stumbled into acting as a way to earn money during World War II and kept at it with repertory theater roles and training from the granddaughter of Ira Aldridge, an American who became a renowned Shakespearean actor in England, according to Cameron’s British Film Institute biography.
His break into movies also broke barriers for British cinema. Cameron was cast in one of the starring roles in Pool of London, a 1951 crime noir movie that was the first British film to feature an interracial relationship. His character, Johnny Lambert, is a merchant seaman who meets a white woman while on shore leave.
He earned his 007 stripes in the fourth James Bond film, Thunderball, in 1965, playing an intelligence operative in the Bahamas opposite Sean Connery. During the 1950s and 1960s, he supplemented his film work with frequent British TV roles, including two episodes of Doctor Who in 1966.
Cameron appeared in a number of major Hollywood and British films late in his life, including The Interpreter with Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn (2005); The Queen with Hellen Mirren (2006) and Inception (2010).
Queen Elizabeth II named him a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2009 for his contributions to British entertainment.