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Where are the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cast now?

Fans of enduring children’s Christmas classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang have been paying tribute to Sally Ann Howes, who played Truly Scrumptious in the film, after her death on Sunday at the age of 91. 

The actress, who made her first appearance on screen aged just 12, passed away just months after the death of her husband of 48 years, British literary agent Douglas Rae, in September. 

During a glittering career on stage and screen, Ms Howes, who was born in London in 1930 to actress Patricia Malone and actor Bobby Howes, was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in 1963 musical Brigadoon and starred in My Fair Lady as Eliza Doolittle.

However, for many, it will be for the role of Truly Scrumptious in the Disney classic that Ms Howe will be remembered. The 1968 film, which has been reinvented for global stages including the West End and Broadway in the decades since, was based on a novel by Bond writer Ian Fleming – and adapted for screen by Roald Dahl. 

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It tells the story of a charismatic inventor Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) who creates a magical flying car. The plot follows the adventures of Potts, newly widowed, and his two children Jeremy and Jemima, played by Adrian Hall and Heather Ripley, as they recount a story to Truly Scrumptious about the evil Baron Bomburst (Gert Frobe) and his attempts to steal the Potts’ fantastical flying machine. 

Here, FEMAIL looks at what happened to the film’s cast after Chitty Chitty Bang Bang made them household names in the late Sixties…   

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cemented the career of Dick Van Dyke (pictured as Caractacus Potts) as one of Hollywood’s greats…and Howes would also go on to enjoy a lustrous career. However, the child stars in the film both turned their backs on fame in adulthood 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang star Sally Ann Howes has died aged 91 following a stage and screen career that spanned six decades. The actress, who made her first appearance on screen aged 12, passed away on Sunday

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang star Sally Ann Howes has died aged 91 following a stage and screen career that spanned six decades. The actress, who made her first appearance on screen aged 12, passed away on Sunday

She starred in children's classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as Truly Scrumptious alongside Dick Van Dyke in 1968. Pictured, Ms Howes as Truly pictured on set during filming of the Disney classic film - which has spawned stage show on the West End and Broadway

She starred in children’s classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as Truly Scrumptious alongside Dick Van Dyke in 1968. Pictured, Ms Howes as Truly pictured on set during filming of the Disney classic film – which has spawned stage show on the West End and Broadway

Caractacus Potts, played by Dick Van Dyke

Missouri-born Dick Van Dyke, cast in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang while in his early forties, was already a major star when he agreed to take on the role of inventor Caractacus Potts in the Disney classic – a 1964 appearance as loveable chimney sweep Bert in Mary Poppins alongside Julie Andrews had made him instantly A-list. 

Five decades on the actor, singer and dancer, who has just celebrated his 96th birthday, is still going strong – with acting work still apparently pouring in. 

When he was honoured earlier this year for his work at the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, he quipped he ‘never thought’ he would ‘live this long’ and he told Showbiz411 in April that he was ‘circling the drain’ when asked how he was coping with pandemic. 

A heavy smoker for much of his life, Van Dyke has also known addiction, he no longer drinks alcohol and in the early Seventies was treated for an addiction to drink that saw him in hospital for several weeks. 

The Hollywood legend now lives under the sun in Malibu with makeup artist wife Arlene Silver, who at 50 is more than 40 years his junior. 

Dick Van Dyke, then in his early forties, played charismatic inventor Caractacus Potts in the Disney classic; he was already a global star thanks to his role as chimney sweep Bert in 1964 film Mary Poppins alongside Julie Andrews

Still going strong! Now 96, the actor, singer and dancer is still working. He was honoured at the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC in May this year - and was introduced to the stage by Julie Andrews

Dick Van Dyke, then in his early forties, played charismatic inventor Caractacus Potts in the Disney classic; he was already a global star thanks to his role as chimney sweep Bert in 1964 film Mary Poppins alongside Julie Andrews. Right: Still going strong! Now 96, the actor, singer and dancer is still working. He was honoured at the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC in May this year

His career now spans more than seven decades and Van Dyke has earned five Emmys, a Tony, a Grammy, a BAFTA, the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Television Hall Of Fame. 

His ventures in TV saw him also win awards; he played Rob Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966), as well as The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971-1974) and appeared on The Carol Burnett Show in 1977. 

The actor’s most recent project is a role in the upcoming film, Capture The Flag, which is currently in pre-production. Van Dyke and Silver will celebrate 10 years of marriage next February.

The star, who was born Richard Wayne Van Dyke in West Plains, Missouri, has four children: sons Barry and Christian and daughters Stacy and Carrie that were born during his first marriage to Margie Willett, which lasted from 1948 until their divorce in 1984 – although they were separated by the mid Seventies. 

The Hollywood legend lives in Malibu with his wife of nine years, professional makeup artist Arlene Silver, 50. Pictured, with Ms Howe in October 2010 in Los Angeles

The Hollywood legend lives in Malibu with his wife of nine years, professional makeup artist Arlene Silver, 50. Pictured, with Ms Howe in October 2010 in Los Angeles

After his split from Willett, he embarked on a long love affair with US actor Michelle Triola Marvin until her death from lung cancer in 2009 at the age of 75 – the pair had been together for more than 30 years. 

A proud family man, he now has five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He first met his current wife of nine years Silver, when she was working as a make-up artist at the SAG Awards in 2005. And like many people and fans, she was initially drawn to him, in part, by his infectious and beaming smile. 

She recalled to The Huffington Post‘I remember seeing Dick at the catering table with his bow tie and his big smile. Right when I sat down, he was sitting next to me. 

He said, “Hi, I’m Dick.” The first thing I asked him was, “Weren’t you in Mary Poppins?”‘

Earlier this summer, Van Dyke’s career in entertainment was celebrated at the 43rd annual Kennedy Center Honors, where he was introduced by his longtime friend and colleague, Julie Andrews. 

On his longevity, Van Dyke quipped during an interview with Showbiz411 in April that he was 'circling the drain' when asked how he was faring amid the COVID-19 pandemic (Pictured in his break-out role as Bert in Mary Poppins, with Julie Andrews, right, in 1964)

On his longevity, Van Dyke quipped during an interview with Showbiz411 in April that he was ‘circling the drain’ when asked how he was faring amid the COVID-19 pandemic (Pictured in his break-out role as Bert in Mary Poppins, with Julie Andrews, right, in 1964) 

Kennedy Center honorees are recognized for their contributions to American culture through the performing arts in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television, and are confirmed by the Executive Committee of the Center’s Board of Trustees. 

During the ceremony, Van Dyke reflected on his time in show business, and how he has truly lived up to the old saying: ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!’

‘All those numbers reminded me of how much fun I had over the years,’ he said at the prestigious event, adding, ‘I wasn’t working for a living – they were paying me to play!’     

The secret to his apparent longevity? In his 2016 memoir, Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Living Well Longer, he said that ’embracing the moment’ was the ‘ultimate elixir of youth’.

Jemima Potts, played by Heather Ripley

Heather Ripley, who starred in the film aged just eight, is now 62 but her elfin features still exude the same mischievous defiance that made her an instant child star as Jemima Potts. 

Her acting career was short-lived though. The Scot has largely shunned publicity in adulthood.

Despite appearing bound for Hollywood, and even presenting flowers to the Queen at the film’s premiere at London’s Odeon Leicester Square on December 16, 1968, Ripley has always maintained that she regretted starring in the film; she would eventually drop out of society and reinvent herself as an eco-warrior, peace campaigner and anti-roads protester.

At one point, Ripley lived rough for six months in a ‘bender’ (a shelter made from branches and tarpaulin) to try to stop the building of the Newbury bypass. Another time, she was arrested after lying down in the road and blocking traffic at the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the River Clyde in Scotland and spent 15 hours in a police cell.

Heather Ripley shot to fame as Jemima Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; she was just eight when she took on the role - but has spent much of the rest of her life shunning fame, saying she regrets making the film

Heather Ripley shot to fame as Jemima Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; she was just eight when she took on the role – but has spent much of the rest of her life shunning fame, saying she regrets making the film

The children in the film, Heather Ripley and Jeremy Potts, enjoyed a taste of the Hollywood working alongside Dick Van Dyke, who was already an A-lister - but both the films' child stars have turned their backs onthe limelight in adulthood

The children in the film, Heather Ripley and Jeremy Potts, enjoyed a taste of the Hollywood working alongside Dick Van Dyke, who was already an A-lister – but both the films’ child stars have turned their backs onthe limelight in adulthood 

Now a grandmother, she insists such wildness is behind her, having long since re-trained as a massage therapist based at the Findhorn Foundation, the spiritual community on the Moray Firth which has offered a haven for so many of life’s untamed souls. 

‘I’m a hippy and proud of it,’ she previously said. ‘I never liked fame,’ she says. ‘I don’t understand what kids’ big thing is about wanting to be famous. It just means you have no privacy and you are constantly being asked the same questions.

‘I do regret being in that film. I regret the effect it had on my mental health. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of attention I got after the film came out. I had photographers trying to snap me in the school playground and follow me down the street.

‘This was after working for 14 months solidly on the film when I was so lonely. I had no friends apart from Adrian [Hall, who played her screen brother Jeremy Potts] and he would usually go home after filming each day.’

After years of therapy and counselling, she describes herself as a survivor of post-traumatic stress, adding: ‘I was only eight at the time. I was away from most of my family and all my friends for more than a year and felt completely isolated. It’s not good for any child.’ 

Overwhelmed: The Scottish former actor said the role wreaked havoc on her mental health because there was so much attention from the film on its young stars (Heather Ripley pictured in 2013) - she's now a massage therapist

Ripley, now in her early 60s, was cast just before her eighth birthday in the film...but says she regrets doing it and was lonely on set. She's dedicated much of her life to campaigning to save the environment - and once spent 15 hours in a police cell for lying down in the road and blocking traffic at the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the River Clyde in Scotland

Overwhelmed: The Scottish former actor said the role wreaked havoc on her mental health because there was so much attention from the film on its young stars (Heather Ripley pictured in 2013) – she’s now a massage therapist. Right: Ripley, now in her early 60s, has dedicated much of her life to campaigning to save the environment – and once spent 15 hours in a police cell for lying down in the road and blocking traffic at the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the River Clyde in Scotland

She was plucked from obscurity when she stood in for a sick cast member at Dundee Rep Theatre, where her mother Nanette was wardrobe mistress. Her performance was spotted by a talent scout, who sent a note south to casting agents who were looking for confident youngsters for a new film based on a children’s novel by 007 author Ian Fleming.

Six months before filming began, Ripley and her family went to London for a screen test with producer Cubby Broccoli and director Ken Hughes. She said: ‘The first question he asked was, “How old are you?”, and I said, “Seven and three-quarters!” They just fell about laughing.

‘Ken almost immediately said: “I think we’ve found Jemima, but what are we going to do about the Scots accent?”

‘Cubby said: “Oh don’t worry, we’ll fix that.” I was worried they meant brain surgery.’

What they actually meant was elocution lessons, provided initially by a woman called Paddy O’Neill, a friend of her mother, who just happened to be having an affair with Heather’s father. 

Aged 16, Heather ran away to London in the hope of securing acting or modelling work but, crushingly, no one was interested. Instead, she survived by waitressing and working as a chambermaid. Her fee for Chitty, after ten years’ investment, was worth just £7,500 when she received it at 18.

Disillusioned and broke, she decided to train as an optician before returning to Scotland to work for her father’s business. It was here that she met the man who was to be the father of her children, William Hall, a labourer and oil-rig worker. 

After ten years living in a tenement flat with their two children, with Heather reduced to taking cleaning jobs and William labouring, she bolted again — this time with the children in a gipsy caravan. 

Not long after being photographed trying to throw himself on to a mechanical digger at the Newbury protests in 1997, Cosmo, then aged 12, asked his mother if he could go back to live with his father. Her daughter, Josie, lasted until she was 11 before heading back to the family home. 

Heather had a brief role in a short film called The Interview screened at 2004’s Edinburgh Film Festival and helps film the foundation’s occasional live-streaming events.

Recently, she lent her voice to a short animation by amateurs from the Scottish Borders. She phoned in her performance — all two lines of dialogue.

Jeremy Potts, played by Adrian Hall

Playing blonde haired Jeremy Potts (pictured right), Adrian Hall seemingly had the world at his feet, but after performances on stage and in TV in his teens, he turned his attentions to teaching

Playing blonde haired Jeremy Potts (pictured right), Adrian Hall seemingly had the world at his feet, but after performances on stage and in TV in his teens, he turned his attentions to teaching

Caractacus Potts played by Dick Van Dyke, (centre) Heather Ripley as Jemima Potts and Jeremy Potts played by Adrian Hall in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Caractacus Potts played by Dick Van Dyke, (centre) Heather Ripley as Jemima Potts and Jeremy Potts played by Adrian Hall in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Adrian Hall, now 62, was aged nine when he appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – and his performing career peaked with the Disney film. 

He said he had no clue how big the film was when he was shooting it at Pinewood, and went back to school straight after filming.  

Playing blonde haired Jeremy Potts, he won audiences over with his cheeky smile and in went on to appear in several UK television programs and performed on stages in London’s West End through his teenage years in the early 1970s.

Mr Hall became an acting teacher and eventually, principal at a the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts before his resignation earlier this year (appearing on Lorraine in 2018)

Mr Hall became an acting teacher and eventually, principal at a the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts before his resignation earlier this year (appearing on Lorraine in 2018)

However, he made the decision to turn his attention to teaching acting, instead of performing and held the role of Principal of The Academy Of Live and Recorded Arts, in Wigan, before handing in his resignation earlier this year. He admitted on the Lorraine show in 2018 that he made it clear to students at the school about his famous past and said his two sons, now grown up, are at the ’embarrassment stage’ when it comes to discussing their father’s child star status.

Hall has continued to appear at fan conventions and is a regular at new productions of the show on Broadway and in the West End. 

In 2018, he told Wigan Today: ‘Chitty is part of my history and I would never try to hide it or deny it. It’s a piece of British film history and in the course of my life I’ve met some incredible people and been to some brilliant places, all because of it. It has done nothing but good for me.’

The child catcher, played by Robert Helpmann 

Australian ballet dancer Sir Robert Helpmann, known as ‘Bobbie’ was anything but graceful in the role of the child catcher, a whole generation of children lived in fear of such a character after Helpmann’s portrayal in the film. 

When the camera’s stopped rolling though, Helpmann was the opposite of his macabre on-screen persona, with co-stars reporting the then 60-year-old as kind and friendly.

A child star himself, he was heralded as one of his country’s greatest young dancers; later he would try his hand at burlesque too. 

The stuff of nightmares! The child catcher terrified children who watched the film...but Sir Robert Helpmann, who was 60 at the time he played the role, was said to be kind and charming on set

The stuff of nightmares! The child catcher terrified children who watched the film…but Sir Robert Helpmann, who was 60 at the time he played the role, was said to be kind and charming on set 

Heralded as one of the greatest young dancers in Australia when he was a teenager, Helpmann had a troubled relationship with his home country, describing how he was once 'dumped in the sea' for wearing nail polish on Bondi Beach

Heralded as one of the greatest young dancers in Australia when he was a teenager, Helpmann had a troubled relationship with his home country, describing how he was once ‘dumped in the sea’ for wearing nail polish on Bondi Beach

After Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Helpmann focused again on his first love of ballet, returning to his native Australia and becoming a co-director of the Australian Ballet Company. By the early Seventies though, he fled back to London, slamming the country’s approach to arts: ‘It has been made abundantly clear that I am not wanted in Australia’, he said at the time.  

Celebrated as an early advocate for LGBT+ rights, he was open about his sexuality and lived with partner Michael Benthall, until the latter’s death in 1974. In the 60s, he revealed how he’d been ‘dumped in the sea’ at Bondi Beach by homophobic thugs who were affronted by his painted nails and plucked eyebrows.

His fractured relationship with his home country took a better turn, he returned to live in Sydney, where he died aged 77 in 1986.  

Grandpa Potts, played by Lionel Jeffries

A 40-year-old Grandpa Potts - Lionel Jeffries grew a beard and shaved his head to look older for the film

He continued to act in his later years, pictured here in an episode of the BBC television series 'Casualty' in 1992 - he died in Dorset at the age of 83 in 2010

A 40-year-old Grandpa Potts – Lionel Jeffries grew a beard and shaved his head to look older for the film. He continued to act in his later years, pictured right in an episode of the BBC television series ‘Casualty’ in 1992 – he died in Dorset at the age of 83 in 2010

Although he was playing a grandfather in the film, Lionel Jeffries, born in London in 1925, was actually younger – by half a year – than Dick Van Dyke, born in 1926, at the time of filming.

Already an established character actor, Jeffries had starred in films such as The Colditz Story (1955) and Camelot (1967), playing King Pellinore in the latter.

Smitten with children’s movies after Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, he turned his attentions to writing, and penned 1970s children’s favourite The Railway Children, and The Amazing Mr Blunden in 1972.  

A brush with death came via a TV appearance in the comedy Tom, Dick and Harriet in 1983; he was involved in a stunt scene that plunged a car into a lake…but Jeffries struggled to get out and dodged drowning by seconds.    

The actor died in 2010 at the age of 83 in 2010.

Baron Bomburst, played by Gert Frobe 

A symbol of the aristocracy gone wrong, Gert Frobe played Baron Bomburst, who was hated for his attempts to steal the Potts' Chitty Chitty car

A symbol of the aristocracy gone wrong, Gert Frobe played Baron Bomburst, who was hated for his attempts to steal the Potts’ Chitty Chitty car

Remember this? German actor Gert Frobe left Bond fans unnerved after appearing as Goldfinger in 1964...his role as Baron Bomburst didn't help enhance his image either...

Remember this? German actor Gert Frobe left Bond fans unnerved after appearing as Goldfinger in 1964…his role as Baron Bomburst didn’t help enhance his image either…

The child-hating Baron Bomburst saw German actor Gert Frobe rival Robert Helpmann’s child catcher as the most loathed star in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  

He made a career out of playing baddies, just four years earlier he’d appeared as the villainous Auric Goldfinger in 1964.

Born in Saxony, Germany, Frobe starred in 100 films during his career. His politics were controversial; he was a member of the Nazi party during the war and negative sentiment lingered towards him – even after it was revealed he’d helped shield Jewish people from German police. 

In 1965, he was reported to have told the Daily Mail: ‘Naturally I was a Nazi’ but later denied it, saying: ‘What I told an English reporter during an interview was that during the Third Reich I had the luck to be able to help two Jewish people, although I was a member of the Nazi party.”

The German star passed away in 1988 from a heart attack while staying at a spa resort near Munich at the age of 75. 

Baron Bomburst, played by Anna Quayle  

Another crook! Birmingham-born Anna Quayle played obnoxious Baroness Bomhurst, who decides to hire the child catcher to try and steal Chitty

Another crook! Birmingham-born Anna Quayle played obnoxious Baroness Bomhurst, who decides to hire the child catcher to try and steal Chitty 

The actor, who had worked as a model in her youth, enjoyed a string of hit shows - and won a Tony for Stop the World – I Want to Get Off

Many will remember Quayle's role as Miss Monroe in British school drama Grange Hill; she died in 2019 at the age of 86

The actor, who had worked as a model in her youth, enjoyed a string of hit shows – and won a Tony for Stop the World – I Want to Get Off. Many will remember Quayle’s role as Miss Monroe in British school drama Grange Hill; she died in 2019 at the age of 86

Birmingham-born Anna Quayle took on the slapstick role of obnoxious Baroness Bomhurst, who decides to hire the child catcher to try and steal Chitty.

She’d worked as a fashion model and starred in Beatles’ film hit A Hard Day’s Night and Casino Royale. Her role in the original 1963 production of the musical Stop the World – I Want to Get Off won her a Tony. 

The star’s career peaked in the 60s and 70s but she was a regular on screens in the 80s too – appearing on quizzes including Give Us a Clue with Lionel Blair. 

Children of the 80s will recognise her as the strict but secretly kind Miss Monroe in Grange Hill, a role she played for four years. 

Quayle had one daughter with her husband Donald Baker, who she wed in 1976 although the marriage later ended in divorce. She died at the age of 86 in October 2019. 

AND A CAMEO FOR BARBARA WINDSOR… 

Nothing like a Dame to be! Barbara Windsor also claimed a small role in the film...but many fans might have missed her. The actor, who died in December 2020 was cast as a 'blonde'

Nothing like a Dame to be! Barbara Windsor also claimed a small role in the film…but many fans might have missed her. The actor, who died in December 2020 was cast as a ‘blonde’ 

Windsor, who died last year, pictured with her husband Scott Mitchell in 2019, continued to enjoy huge success as an actor

Windsor, who died last year, pictured with her husband Scott Mitchell in 2019, continued to enjoy huge success as an actor

Blink and you’ll miss her but Barbara Windsor, who went on to be a British national treasure also scored a tiny role in the children’s film. 

The Carry On and EastEnders star played, unsurprisingly for the time, ‘blonde’ and was seen wearing a pretty red and white polka dot dress and a straw boater. The Dame to be, who died in December 2020, played the part with her usual exuberance though, showcasing a Carry On-esque expression. 

Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014 and kept her fight with the illness private for four years.  

The star, who died aged 83 following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, left her husband of twenty years, Scott Mitchell, £4.6million in her will. 


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