Cubby Broccoli: 50 years of 007 on the big screen

Earlier this week we took a look at the life of Harry Saltzman, who was one of the principal driving forces behind putting James Bond on the big screen. In this article we look at his partner, Cubby Broccoli, with whom he formed Eon Productions and Danjaq.

Albert “Cubby” Broccoli was born on Long Island in 1909 to Italian-American parents, living in Florida until his father passed away, after which he moved back to New York to live with his grandmother in Queens. He did a variety of odd jobs before moving to Hollywood in the 1930s where he started working in the movie industry, working his way up from the bottom.

In 1940 he married the actress Gloria Blondell, and in 1941 worked on the Howard Hughes movie The Outlaw; by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the same year Broccoli was working as assistant director. During the war Broccoli served in the US Navy, after which he returned to the movie industry.

While Broccoli’s marriage ended in divorce after five years, his movie career was gathering momentum; he worked in various capacities as a director, assistant director, second unit director and producer and he was in close proximity with many of the famous and successful actors of his time.

In 1951 he married Nedra Clark, and moved to London due to the subsidies being offered by the British government to produce films, setting up Warwick Films with Irving Allen and producing a series of successful films. However, the end of the decade was touched with sadness as his wife died in 1958 soon giving birth to a daughter, but shortly after that Albert married Dana Wilson, a novelist and actress who already had a teenage son, Michael; together, they also had a daughter Barbara.

It was during this period that Cubby Broccoli read Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and became interested in bringing the character to the big screen. However, after approaching Fleming, he discovered that Harry Saltzman, who was also interested in producing a film, had already bought the rights for the movie. After a mutual friend arranged a meeting, Broccoli was able to reach an agreement with Saltzman where both would co-produce the movies together.

Their alliance led to the formation of Eon Productions (as well as Danjaq), and in the months that followed they worked on releasing what would be the very first Bond movie, Dr No. Following the success of the next few installments, his commitment to the Bond franchise grew, although Saltzman invested some of his energies elsewhere, creating conflict between them.

Finally Saltzman was forced to sell his share of Eon thanks to debts incurred in other movie projects. However, Saltzman came to an agreement with UBS, who believed they were purchasing Eon in its entirety, and Broccoli was forced to sue. He won the case and United Artists instead purchased Saltzman’s share.

Although he would later produce other movies such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968, Cubby Broccoli dedicated the bulk of his career to producing Bond movies. In all, he produced over a dozen bond movies and even had a cameo in 1979’s Moonraker.

In 1996, Cubby Broccoli underwent a triple heart bypass but despite the apparent success of the operation, he suffered heart failure several months later and died in Beverly Hills at the age of 87.

Since his death he is remembered at the start of the James Bond films: “Albert R Broccoli’s Eon Productions presents”, while his daughter Barbara and stepson Michael continue the family business of producing the James Bond films.

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