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Obituaries

Dana Broccoli, 82; Producer Owned Film Rights to 007 Novels

March 04, 2004|Dennis McLellan | Times Staff Writer

Dana Broccoli, the widow of movie producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and the president of the company that owns the film rights to Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, has died. She was 82.

Broccoli, a novelist and theatrical producer, died of cancer Sunday at her home in Beverly Hills.

Danjaq, the film company that Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman founded in 1961, bought the film rights not only to Fleming's Bond novels but to his whimsical novel "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," which became a 1968 movie starring Dick Van Dyke.

Dana Broccoli became president of the Los Angeles-based Danjaq, which produces the Bond films and co-owns them with MGM, after her husband died in 1996.

During her tenure as president, three Bond films starring Pierce Brosnan as the dashing spy have been released: "Tomorrow Never Dies," "The World Is Not Enough" and "Die Another Day."

The Bond films, now numbering 20, are the longest-running movie series of all time.

Dana Broccoli also was the creative force behind turning "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" into a musical, for which she served as lead producer. The musical opened in London's West End in 2002 and is still running. It is scheduled to open on Broadway in spring 2005.

In a 1978 interview with The Times, she described her role as "primarily a wife and a mother." But she also was known for her charity work, for being a hostess par excellence and for being "a sounding board for my husband's ideas. Like most wives, I've been a partner."

When Cubby Broccoli was searching for the actor to play Bond, he attended a screening of the Walt Disney film "Darby O'Gill and the Little People." He was impressed with the young Scot actor, Sean Connery, who played the love interest and who had a victorious fistfight with a village bully at the climax of the film.

Broccoli felt he had found the ideal man's man to play Bond, but he had one reservation.

"He phoned me and asked, 'Can you come here? I think I've found the guy, but I don't know if he has sex appeal,' " Dana Broccoli told The Times. "I went and watched [the film], and I said, 'He's fantastic.' "

Born Dana Natol in New York City in 1922, she attended Cecil Clovelly's Academy of Dramatic Arts at Carnegie Hall, where she met her first husband, Lewis Wilson, with whom she had a son, Michael.

After World War II, she and her husband joined the Pasadena Playhouse. After they divorced, she concentrated on her writing.

She met Cubby Broccoli when she brought him an idea for a movie. "He never bought the story, but six weeks later, we were married," she told The Times in 1978. Soon after their 1959 marriage, they moved to London.

Dana Broccoli wrote two novels, "Scenario for Murder" and "Florinda." The latter was adapted as a musical, "La Cava," for which she wrote the book. It opened in London's West End in 2000.

She is survived by her children, Michael Wilson, Tony Broccoli, Tina Broccoli and Barbara Broccoli; and five grandchildren.

A funeral will be held at 12:30 p.m. today in Church of the Hills at Forest Lawn, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, in Los Angeles.

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