Albert Broccoli, Film Producer, Dies at 87
By Dinitia Smith
Albert (Cubby) Broccoli who was a producer of one of the most successful movie series of all time, died on Thursday, at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 87
In the late 1950's, Mr. Broccoli (pronounced like the vegetable) and his partner, Harry Saltzman, bought the screen rights to the novels of Ian Fleming, and proceeded to make Mr. Fleming's character, James Bond Agent 007, a household name. The 17 Bond films Mr. Broccoli was associated with were reported to have earned $1 billion world wide.
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 gadegtry available to the modern industrial age.
He was the father of the modern action hero, the progenitor of characters played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.
Mr. Broccoli could not have been more different from his cinematic creation. Albert Romolo Broccoli was born in 1909, the son of immigrants from Calabria. He was nicknamed Cubby because he was the chubby child. The family was in the vegetable business, and Mr. Broccoli said one of his uncles brought the first broccoli seeds into the United States in the 1870's.
For a while, Mr. Broccoli, too, worked in the vegetable business. Then in 1933, he became manager of a family coffin business, but he found the work depressed him. While visiting a cousin, who was a Hollywood agent, he met Cary Grant, who became his friend.
Mr. 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 in the Howard Hughes's film "The Outlaw." He eventually became an agent and then, with Irving Allen, began producing films in England.
In the 1950's, when he and Mr. 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 agressive and too British for American audiences. Arthur Krim, then head of United Artists, agreed to give them $1 million to make the first Bond movie, "Dr. No," in 1962.
Mr. Broccoli and Mr. Saltzman auditioned several actors for the lead. But when Mr. Broccoli's wife 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 Mr. Connery a star, and he went on to appear on other Bond films, including "From Russia With Love," "Goldfinger," and "Thunderball."
In the films, Mr. Broccoli, together with Richard Maibaum, who was a writer of many Bond movies, transformed an essentially British character into an international figure.
In 1976, Mr. Broccoli and Mr. Saltzman, who died in 1993, broke up their partnership, and Mr. Broccoli retained the rights to produce the series. He went on to make "The Spy Who Loved Me," "For Your Eyes Only," "Octopussy" and "License to Kill." The most recent Bond film, last year's "Goldeneye," with Pierce Brosnan, was produced by his daughter Barbara Broccoli and his stepson, Michael G. Wilson.
Besides the Bond films, Mr. Broccoli's production credits included "Call Me Bwana," starring Bob Hope, and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," based on a children's story by Ian Fleming.
In addition to his daughter and stepson, he is survived by his wife, Dana; another daughter, Tina; a son, Tony, and five grandchildren, all of Los Angeles.
New York Times, Saturday, June 29, 1996, p. 26L