Did you know Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was actually the ultimate Bond car? The children’s book was written by Ian Fleming and adapted for the screen by Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes.
The plot lurches all over the place, it’s really long and most of it seems to be in a dream sequence (or is it?) – but despite being a slog to get through as an adult it was one film we all had on repeat when we were children.
But what happened to the kids, Truly Scrumptious and the Childcatcher? Which two cast members were also huge Bond stars?
We catch up with everyone after the jump!
Dick Van Dyke – Caractacus Potts
Is he still alive? Yes. Dont’ be rude.
Dick Van Dyke was a huge star in the states with his own TV show before gaining worldwide fame (and a dodgy cockney accent) in 1964’s Mary Poppins. Four years later he kept his own American accent (despite the film being set in England) for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Today you’ll still see him as the interfering Dr Mark Sloan in Diagnosis Murder (why do criminals ever answer his questions, he’s just the doctor!) The show ended in 2001 but it’s always repeated on some channel. His son Barry Van Dyke played the other main role of a square-jawed detective.
More recently Dick also appeared as a villain with Ben Stiller in Night at the Museum and in 2010, he rapped on a chidren’s album called Rhythm Train, with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.
Now aged 86, Dick has had four kids with his first wife and then lived with partner Michelle Triola for 30 years. After her death in 2009 he met 40 year old make-up artist Arlene Silver, they married in 2012.
Sally Anne Howes – Truly Scrumptious
Sally was born into a showbiz family with both parents on stage. She started out as a child star and appeared in films like Nicholas NIckleby and Anna Karenina.
After becoming a hit on West End and Broadway musicals Sally had her biggest breakthrough role in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Julie Andrews was offered the part but turned it down because it was so similar to Mary Poppins.
The film didn’t relaunch her screen career though and Sally returned to the stage. She’s semi retired now but recently had a role in the stage version of ‘My Fair Lady’.
Now 82, she’s been married twice and had two adopted son from her first marriage to Richard Adler.
Adrian Hall and Heather Ripley as Jeremy and Jemima
Scottish actress Heather Ripley landed the part of Jemima after being spotted in a local play. She said Dick Van Dyke was hilarious on set and adds, “I didn’t know for years that he was an alcoholic then.” Her parents marriage broke down while she was filming and she lived in South Dublin with her mum and step-dad until she was 14. Now living near Dundee with her two children Heather is an activist and campaigner.
Adrian Hall got the part of Jeremy after going to a Saturday stage school. He stuck with acting and picked up occasional TV jobs in the 70’s and 80’s. He is now a co-director of the drama institute ALRA.
Here they are with Sally at a more recent premiere of the Chitty stage musical in London.
Robert Helpmann – the Child Catcher
Easily the creepist character ever committed to film. Just take a look at the way his head appears in the window…
Robert was actually a hugely acclaimed Australian dancer and choreographer. He trained in London as a ballet dancer and toured the US. He later worked with Australian Ballet and Australian Opera. He lived with his partner Michael for 36 years and died in 1986. He was given a State funeral in Sydney.
Gert Fröbe – Baron Bomburst
The fat, childish and murderous baron – German actor Gert had actually played a pretty similar role in Goldfinger –
Yes he also played the ultimate Bond baddie Goldfinger – though his voice actually dubbed in the role as his German accent was too thick.
Gert got lots of criticism for being a member of the Nazi party during the war but it later transpired he had actually helped Jews hid from the Gestapo.
He died in 1988 aged 75.
Desmond Llewelyn - Mr Coggins the scrap yard owner
Another connection to Bond! The Welsh actor Desmond Llewelyn was best known for playing Q in 17 Bond films. Despite playing the gadget master Desmond said in real life he knew nothing about technology.
in 1999, just two weeks after the premiere of ‘The World Is Not Enough’, Desmond died aged 85 after a car accident. His wife Pamela died two years later.
Anna Quayle – Baroness Bomburst
Anna Quayle was a British stage actress who also popped up as teacher Mrs Monroe in Grange Hill (1989 -1994), pictured here. She’s now aged 76 and hasn’t acted in over 15 years.
Lionel Jeffries – Grandpa Potts
Despite playing his dad in the film, Lionel was actually six months younger than Dick Van Dyke. He moved from acting into directing and made the classic children’s film ‘The Railway Children’. He later had guest roles in Minder and Inspector Morse.
He was married from 1951 till his death in 2010 aged 83, he had three children with his wife Eileen.
Benny Hill – the Toymaker
Though he played a serious role in this film, Benny Hill was better known for chasing around bikini-clad women on his hit TV show.
Benny apparently fell into a depression when the show was cancelled and died alone in his home in 1992. Despite leading a very humble lifestyle he left a £10 million inheritance.
Barbara Windsor – ‘Blonde at Fair’
A young Barbara Windsor pops up as a screeching fairground customer at one point. She’s a household name in the UK and Ireland after starring in the Carry On film franchise and playing Peggy Mitchell in Eastenders. She has recently retired from the soap to spend time with her third husband Scott Mitchell.
Also starring in that scene with Barbara is Arthur Mullard as Cyril. Here they are getting a haircut at the fairground –
Arthur Mullard often played the straight-man in sketches with the likes of Benny Hill, Frankie Howard and Tony Hancock. He later starred in a sitcom called ‘Yus, My Dear’ and performed this infamous cover of ‘You’re The One That I Want’ on Top of the Pops with Hylda Baker –
He died in 1995 aged 85. His daughter Barbara later alleged he had abused her for years and driven her mother to suicide.
And on that disturbing note – that’s what happened to the cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. We salute (most of) you!
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