He attended?New York University?on a football scholarship, and earned a degree in Fine Arts. He spent the first year of World War II with the War Department's Corps of Engineers, building bridges in?Persia. He then returned to the Merchant Marine as an?Able Seaman?before enrolling in the deck officer course at Fort Trumbull. While making maritime training films, he took to the idea of acting.
Lord was the first actor to play the?character?of?Felix Leiter?in the?James Bond?film series, introduced in the first Bond film,?Dr. No. One story alleges that the?film producers?did not ask Lord to reprise the role in later films, since they felt that having the same actor playing Leiter would upstage the dominance of?Sean Connery?as the leading man.?There is another story that Lord demanded co-star billing, a bigger role and more money to reprise the Felix Leiter role?in?Goldfinger?which resulted in director?Guy Hamilton?casting the role to an older actor to make Leiter more of an American 'M'.
Two of his paintings were acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum of Modern Art by the time he was twenty. Lord was also known for being a very cultured man who loved reading poetry out loud on the set of his TV show and as being somewhat reclusive at his Honolulu home.
Jack Lord died of?congestive heart failure?at his home on?January 21,?1998?in?Honolulu, Hawaii, at the age of 77. He left an estate of $40 million, and being a philanthropist in his lifetime, the entire estate went to various Hawaiian charities upon his wife?Marie's death in?2005.?Portions of their estate were auctioned on eBay in March 2007.