Once again, we ask “Where Are They Now”, with a movie that was a Christmas Morning TV staple in England for many years - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Dick Van Dyke - Caractacus Potts
Van Dyke's turn as Caractacus Potts in CCBB ranks alongside “Bert The Chimney Sweep” from Mary Poppins as one of his most famous film roles. Still working, most recently recognized from his TV show, Diagnosis Murder. Dick's voice will be heard in the upcoming animated version of Curious George starring Will Ferrell.
Sally Ann Howes - Truly Scrumptious
Surprisingly enough, CCBB may have been the death knell for Howe's movie career, typecasting her in a saccharine musical role just as that type of movie was falling out of favor. Since then, she has appeared almost exclusively on the stage, being seen as somewhat of a Grand Dame of British Theater (even though she now makes her home in New York. Fun trivia: Mattel produced a Truly Scrumptious Barbie Doll.
Lionel Jeffries - Grandpa Potts
It's a testament to Jeffries' character acting ability than although he played Caractacus Pott's father in the movie, he was actually seven months younger than Dick Van Dyke when filming took place. Jeffries continued to work in British TV & movies, playing a memorable role in The Railway Children, and lending his voice to the children's TV show, The Wombles. His last public acting appearance was back in 1998. Couldn't find anything even remotely close to a contemporary photograph, but he allegedly has gained a lot of weight in his latter years.
Adrian Hall - Jeremy
Had a couple of brief roles after CCBB, then completely dropped out of the limelight. Now working as a Drama Teacher in England.
Heather Ripley - Jemimah
Memories of CCBB are not completely happy ones for Ripley - she blames the extended shooting schedule, during which her mother chaperoned her as they were split from her father, as the main reason for her parent's subsequent divorce. In adulthood, Jemimah became a miltant “eco-warrior”, living in a makeshift protest camp outside the Faslane nuclear submarine base near Greenock in Scotland, where she was once arrested and jailed. These days, as a mother of two, she limits her peace protesting to weekends, and spends the rest of her time creating craft items out of driftwood that wash up near her home in Broughty Ferry, Scotland.
Karl-Gerhart Fröber - Baron Bomburst
Fröber continued to work in his native Germany until a couple of years before his death in 1988 by heart attack, appearing in over 100 films. Yet it is for his portrayal as Auric Goldfinger, James Bond's nemesis and commander of Oddjob, that Fröber is best known. Throughout his career, Fröber attracted criticism for his wartime membership of the Nazi party, although it was later revealed that he had been involved in hiding jews from the Gestapo.
Anna Quayle - Baroness Bomburst
My thanks go out to a couple of YBNBY readers who helped me fill in the gaps on Anna Quayle, who had been incredibly difficult to track down. Anna, 69, is currently living near Brighton, England. Her last recorded public appearance was in 2002, at the London opening of the CCBB show, from which the picture above right is taken (This was kindly provided by Bill Haldenby who runs the Anna Quayle Yahoo Movie Group.) Her last entry in the IMDB for acting is for a British TV show in 1986, and I found one more reference to a children's TV appearance in 1987, and I assume after that, she retired to a quiet life of chu-chi, woo-chi, ooo-chi, coo-chi days.
Benny Hill - Toymaker
I probably don't need to tell you that Benny Hill died back in 1992. In my ten years living in the US, it's become obvious that Hill is to the Americans as Jerry Lewis is to the French. The son of a circus clown, Hill's role in CCBB is comparatively subdued when compared to the TV shenanigans that most people remember. Perhaps less well known except in England is the chart topper he recorded, Ernie (The Fastest milkman in the West), which was #1 on the British charts for most of December 1971. Hill died in his favorite armchair watching TV. And I can think of worse ways to go.
Sir Robert Helpmann - The Child Catcher
Here's a simple fact. It's over 30 years since I first saw CCBB, and I'm a grown man with children. Yet Helpmann's amazing portrayal of The Child Catcher so terrified me when I was young that even now, on hearing his voice say “Children, come get your lollipops - all... free.... today...!” I literally shudder. I'd argue it's one of the most beautiful-scary portrayals of a bad guy in movie history. World-renowned as a ballet dancer and choreographer, Helpmann died in his native Australia in 1986.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
A few models of the car were created for the movie, depending on the need for shots of it flying, driving or in the water, but there was only one version that was registered for roadworthiness with the plate GEN 11. That car is still in the ownership of Pierre Picton, who was responsible for maintaining it during filming. He still regularly shows it at charitable events, and it even appeared in a recent TV commercial for the British equivalent of the DMC.