Simanaitis Says

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WHAT DID THE 007 AUTHOR have in common with the man portraying Dr. John H. Watson in British movies in the 1930s? 

Nothing, except for sharing the name Ian Fleming. Here are tidbits on these two guys, together with another mistaken linkage, this one concerning Ann née Charteris Fleming and the author of The Saint/Simon Templar series. Both tales, it turns out, involve name changes; one of them, found in a telephone directory.

Talk about false leads. 

Arthur Wontner, left, and Ian Fleming in The Missing Rembrandt, 1932, the second of the pair’s five Sherlock Holmes films.

Ian Fleming, the Movie Actor. Sherlockian scholars recognize Arthur Wontner and Ian Fleming as portraying Holmes and Watson in a series of British flicks running from 1930 to 1936. Wontner and Fleming were far from the first pair to do so.

According to Sherlockian Ronald Burt De Waal, there were some 34 earlier Sherlock Holmes films, the earliest being Sherlock Holmes Baffled, April 1900, produced by the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company and released in 1903.

The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, by Ronald Burt De Waal, Bramhall House, 1974. 

This particular Ian Fleming, 1888–1969, was an Australian character actor with credits in more than 100 British films. He was born Ian Macfarlane. 

The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes, the penultimate of the series, 1935, available on YouTube. Below, Fleming appeared fifth in the cast credits.

Ian Fleming, The 007 Guy. Not to be confused with the Dr. Watson portrayer, this Fleming came by his name at birth. His father Valentine Fleming was a Member of Parliament for Henley from 1910 to 1917.

Ian Lancaster Fleming, 1908–1964, British writer, journalist, and naval intelligence officer.

As described in Wikipedia, “Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1952.… Eleven Bond novels and two collections of short stories followed between 1953 and 1966.”

This Fleming has also appeared here at SimanaitisSays as the author of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, 1964. It’s his sole children’s book, written for his son Caspar, 12 at the time. Fleming died August 12, 1964, age 56, of a heart attack.

Ann Charteris, Mrs. Fleming, Sorta Just in Time. According to Wikipedia, Ann Geraldine Mary Charteris “was a British socialite. She married firstly Lord O’Neill, secondly Lord Rothermere, and finally the writer Ian Fleming. She also had affairs with the Labour Party politicians Hugh Gaitskell and Roy Jenkins.”

Not to fret, though, as husband Fleming had a long-term affair with one of his Jamaica neighbors, Blanche Blackwell.

Wikipedia notes that “Rothermere divorced Charteris in 1951 because of her relationship with Fleming, and the couple married on 24 March 1952 in Jamaica, a few months before their son Caspar was born in August.”

A Charteris Link? Another notable person sharing Ann’s maiden name was Leslie Charteris, author of many books chronicling the adventures of Simon Templar aka The Saint. This Charteris has appeared twice here at SimanaitisSays: “Templar and his Hirondel” and “A Jeopardy Setup (and an R&T Road Test).” 

Were Leslie and Ann related? Uh, no. As noted in Wikipedia, “Charteris was born Leslie Charles Bowyer-Yin, in Singapore. His mother, Lydia Florence Bowyer, was English. His father, Dr S. C. Yin (Yin Suat Chwan, 1877–1958), was a Chinese physician who claimed to be able to trace his lineage back to the emperors of the Shang dynasty.”

Leslie Charteris, 1907–1993, British-Chinese author of adventure fiction, screenwriter. 

Wikipedia continues, “In 1926, Leslie legally changed his surname to ‘Charteris.’ In the BBC Radio 4 documentary Leslie Charteris—A Saintly Centennial, his daughter stated that he had selected the name from a telephone directory.”

There are times when unexpected research is every bit as satisfying as positive outcomes. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 


  1. Bob Storck
    January 13, 2022

    You may want to ask who was the original James Bond?

    • simanaitissays
      January 13, 2022

      Ha! Bob, a bird-brained question, right?

      • Bob Storck
        January 13, 2022

        You musta pecked!

  2. Pingback: THE SAINT & LIM PENG HAN - <RMA>

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