IT’S been more than half a decade since the iconic flying car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang burst onto our screens – and the Child Snatcher haunted our dreams.
The classic children’s film was released in 1968, with legendary actor Dick Van Dyke starring in the lead role as Caractacus Potts.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was able to travel on land, sea and airCredit: Alamy
The film is based on James Bond author Ian Fleming’s novel, and the screenplay was co-written by famous childrens’ author, Roald Dahl.
The two-and-a-half hour long film tells the story of Jeremy, Adrian Hall, and Jemima, Heather Ripley, Potts, and their eccentric father, the inventor Caractacus.
The pair become attached to a car in an garage, which is due to be scrapped, and they beg their father to buy it.
In his attempt to raise the funds, Caractacus runs into Truly Scrumptious, played by Sally Ann Howes.
A famous scene from the film shows the cast smuggled in to the castle as life-sized dollsCredit: Alamy
The quartet end up in the child-free land of Vulgaria, where the Baron and Baroness Bomburst set the notorious Child Catcher, played by Robert Helpmann, to hunt down the Potts kids.
Some 52 years after the iconic film was released, we look at where the main actors are today.
Caractacus Potts – Dick Van Dyke
Dick Van Dyke played the lead as the eccentric inventor Caractacus
Lead actor Dick Van Dyke has had an illustrious career in showbiz spanning decadesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Dick Van Dyke is one of the most famous actors in Hollywood, with a career spanning seven decades.
The 95-year-old was already a household name from Mary Poppins, but the success of Chitty cemented his legendary status.
Dick has won a Grammy, Tony and five Primetime Emmy Awards, has been recognised as a Disney legend, and he has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
In the years since the film’s release, he starred in the self-titled The Dick Van Dyke show, Night at the Museum, Curious George and Dick Tracy.
Truly Scrumptious – Sally Ann Howes
Sally played the charming character of Truly Scrumptious, and went on to have a glittering careerCredit: Alamy
Sally Ann Howe got the role after Julie Andrews turned it downCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Sally Ann Howe was cast in the role of Truly Scrumptious, after Julie Andrews – who starred alongside Dick in Mary Poppins – turned down the role.
Sally had a career on the stage before Chitty, but the film put her on the map.
Since the film’s release, she went on to star in the west end, appearing in numerous theatre productions including The Sound of Music, The King and I and Hamlet.
Child catcher – Robert Helpmann
The Child Catcher haunted the dreams of children for years to come Credit: Not known, clear with picture desk
Robert Helpmann was given a state funeral in Sydney upon his death in 1986Credit: Popperfoto – Getty
Robert Helpmann struck fear into the heart’s of children with his most famous saying “I smell children…” which has haunted the minds of children and adults alike.
He was an Australian ballet dancer, actor and choreographer, and went on to star in a number of blockbusters, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Don Quixote after the film.
While he played a fearsome role in Chitty, co-star Heather said he was: “The least scariest person I have ever met in my life. There was absolutely nothing about him that was scary.
“He was a sweet and charming gentleman. But the way he moved, could be very scary.”
He was so acclaimed in his native country that he was given a state funeral in Sydney upon his death in 1986.
Jeremy Potts – Adrian Hall
Adrian was just nine when he landed the role, and he’s now 61 and lives in Staines, south England Credit: Hulton Archive – Getty
Adrian has since given up acting and is the principal at a performing arts schoolCredit: ITV
Adrian Hall was just nine-years-old when he was cast as Jeremy in the smash-hit film.
After landing such a massive role Adrian went back to school to finish his studies, but found it difficult to land more acting jobs.
Eventually he took Chitty off his CV, over fear of being type-cast.
He said: “I know that it stopped me being considered for roles. People only think you’re a child actor. It wasn’t until I removed it that I got my first jobs.”
Adrian, now 61, gave up the limelight to work as a teacher, and is now the principal at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) .
Jemima Potts – Heather Ripley
Heather Ripley was just eight-years-old when she starred in the cult filmCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Heather had a troubled life after finding fame at such a young age Credit: Getty Images
Heather was just nine-years-old when she starred alongside Dick Van Dyke, but after the film’s huge success her personal life suffered.
The Scot ran away from her Dundee home when she was a teenager, and blamed her parents’ split on her global fame.
She became an activist and lived in makeshift peace camps where she raised her two children, daughter Josie, and son Cosmo.
Heather settled back into her hometown, but encountered a few legal troubles.
Now, the former child star, now 61, is writing a book about the movie and is hoping to return to acting.
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