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James Bond’s Long-Forgotten Connection to Upstate New York

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James Bond's Long-Forgotten Connection to Upstate New York
Sean Connery and James Bond author Ian Fleming on the set of ‘Dr No.’ (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

James Bond is as likely to be spotted in upstate New York as in downtown Berlin.

When Ian Fleming conceived of his spy novels, it’s clear that he used his skills as a former journalist and intelligence officer to sculpt his fictional plots.

One such plot was 1956’s Diamonds Are Forever, which saw Bond fighting a diamond-smuggling ring, and traveling to America to fight it.

According to The Saratogian newspaper, in August 1954, Fleming traveled to Saratoga Springs, New York, on a fact-finding mission. Saratoga is the home of one of the country’s oldest horse racing tracks, and Fleming would attend the summer meet, giving the event and its town literary fame in Diamonds. However, when the 1971 theatrical version came out, starring Sean Connery, the Saratoga connection was expunged (it wouldn’t have helped the film, one of the series’ weakest).

It’s not entirely clear if this same trip helped inspire Fleming’s ninth novel, The Spy Who Loved Me, but it stands to reason that a seed was planted. The 1962 novel was based “10 miles west of Lake George”—about a 40-minute car ride north of Saratoga. (Diamonds also makes mention of the Sagamore Hotel, a popular Lake George resort.) Like the Diamonds book-film disparity, the Spy film is entirely different from the book.

For more on Saratoga’s connection to James Bond—and a nice little horse racing twist involving the British spy’s famous name—click here.

Below, watch the trailers for Diamonds Are Forever and The Spy Who Loved Me.

—Will Levith for RealClearLife