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Producer Albert R. Broccoli (1909-1996)

By: Anders Frejdh
Published:
2004-09-06
Albert Cubby Broccoli James Bond
Albert R. Broccoli ("Cubby" for those who knew him), one of the producers behind the James Bond films, the most successful film series of all time, passed away at his home in Beverly Hills on 27th June, 1996. He was 87. (Cubby's birthday, 5th April, is also the birthday of his son, Tony Broccoli, and James Bond novelist Anthony Horowitz.)

Colleagues and co-workers from the James Bond films share their memories of Albert R. Broccoli with FSWL:

"In my career I have never worked with a producer that where as generous and kind and understanding as Cubby." – Britt Ekland (Mary Goodnight in The Man with the Golden Gun)

"Cubby was a larger than life character and a generous employer. Everybody on the movies lived in style." – Christopher Wood (screenwriter of The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker)

"Cubby was a wonderful family man and as such the whole crew were his family. He was much loved and respected." – John Glen (2nd Unit director for three Bond films and Director of five)

"Cubby was kind, considerate, friendly to all his crew and he loved to play backgammon with Roger on set." – Keith Hamshere (stills photographer on nine Bond films)

"A very large, happy and gentle gentleman who got on so well with Roger, the crew and me too."
Lynn-Holly Johnson (Bibi Dahl in For Your Eyes Only)

"He was a proper old-time film producer who understood movie making and understood how to treat actors and crews. He was a real human being, very understanding and was prepared to get to the highest mountain if his crew was there and also to play Backgammon with Roger Moore. I believe he would have gone to the top of Mount Everest for a game with Roger, and show me a producer who is prepared to make spaghetti in the desert to keep his crew happy."
Martin Grace (stuntman/stunt coordinator on eight Bond films)

"Cubby always worked so hard to make a bigger and better Bond movie each time out."
Richard Kiel (Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker)

"Cubby was always a welcome presence in whichever Bond film was shooting." – Shane Rimmer (Hawaii radar operator in You Only Live Twice, Tom in Diamonds Are Forever and Commander Carter in The Spy Who Loved Me)

"A great gentleman, very kind and very friendly." – Albert Moses (Bartender in The Spy Who Loved Me and Sadruddin in Octopussy)

About Albert R. Broccoli:
In the late 1950's, Broccoli (pronounced like the vegetable) and his partner, Harry Saltzman, bought the screen rights to the novels of Ian Fleming, and proceeded to make Fleming's character, James Bond, Agent 007, a household name. The 17 Bond films Broccoli was associated with were reported to have earned 1 billion dollars worldwide.

James Bond, played by a succession of actors - Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan - was the quintessential cold war hero, a dashing connoisseur of dry martinis (he liked them shaken, not stirred) and beautiful women, who fought a succession of monolithic enemies with all the gadgetry available to the modern industrial age.

He was the father of the modern action hero, the progenitor of characters later played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Broccoli could not have been more different from his cinematic creation. Albert Romolo Broccoli was born in on April 5 1909, the son of immigrants from Calabria. He was nicknamed Cubby because he was a chubby child. The family was in the vegetable business, and Broccoli said one of his uncles brought the first broccoli seeds into the USA in the 1870's.

For a while, Broccoli, too, worked in the vegetable business. Then in 1933, he became manager of a family coffin business, but he found that the work depressed him. While visiting a cousin, who was a Hollywood agent, he met Cary Grant, who became his friend.

Broccoli realized that he wanted to get into the movie business, and obtained a job in the mail room at 20th Century Fox. He later worked on the Howard Hughes's film The Outlaw (1943). He eventually became an agent and then, with Irving Allen, began producing films in England.

In the 1950's, when he and Saltzman tried to get financing for their first James Bond movie, they were turned down everywhere, according to Lee Pfeiffer, author of "The Incredible World of 007," because the character was thought to be too sexually aggressive and too British for American audiences. Arthur Krim, then head of United Artists, agreed to give them 1 million dollar to make the first Bond film, Dr. No, in 1962.

Broccoli and Saltzman auditioned several actors for the lead. But when Broccoli's wife Dana saw a film clip of an unknown actor named Sean Connery, she is said to have cried: "Take that one! He's gorgeous!"

Dr. No made Connery a star, and he went on to appear in other Bond films including From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964) (1964), Thunderball (1965) (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971).

In the films, Broccoli, together with Richard Maibaum, who was a writer of many Bond movies, transformed an essentially British character into an international figure.

In 1976, Broccoli and Saltzman, who died in 1994, broke up their partnership, and Broccoli retained the rights to produce the series. He went on to make The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979) (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983) (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989). The 16th James Bond film, GoldenEye (1995) (1995) starring Pierce Brosnan as 007, was produced by his daughter Barbara Broccoli and his stepson, Michael G. Wilson.

Besides the Bond films, Albert R. Broccoli's production credits included Call Me Bwana (1963) starring Bob Hope and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), the latter based on a children's story by Ian Fleming.

In addition to his daughter and stepson, he is survived by his wife, Dana Broccoli; another daughter, Tina Broccoli; a son, Tony Broccoli, and five grandchildren, all of Los Angeles.

Editor's note:
Essential reading if you want to read more on the life and career of Albert R. Broccoli is the biography he wrote with Donal Zec. The book, first published in hardback in 1998 under the title When the Snow Melts (now out of print), is available for the Kindle.

Photo above:
Producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli relaxes on one of the lavish sets of Octopussy. © 1983 Danjaq S.A. & MGM/United Artists Pictures. All rights reserved.

For more information about Albert R. Broccoli's film career, check out his profile on IMDB:

www.imdb.com/name/nm0110482/

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