Skip to comments.Dana Broccoli -- obituary
Posted on 03/02/2004 5:56:45 PM PST by dighton
Dana Broccoli who died on Sunday aged 82, was the widow of Albert Cubby Broccoli, the producer of the James Bond films; during their 37-year marriage she was her husbands unofficial adviser and muse, and became, after his death, the custodian of the James Bond franchise.
Elegant and well-connected, Dana Broccoli was the perfect foil to her husband who was the son of an Italian-American bricklayer; but while the vast and affable Cubby - who liked to cook pasta for his cast and crew - was noted for his geniality, it was the chic, raven-haired Dana who had a more steely reputation. Im half Irish and half Italian, she would explain. Im just bloody-minded. Even her adoring husband described her as formidable several times in his autobiography. Dana, he wrote, takes no prisoners. She does not have the gift of forgiveness.
In 1959 Broccoli was already a successful producer when he married Dana Wilson, a divorcee, following a six-week courtship. A year later Broccoli and the Canadian producer Harry Saltzman set up a film company with the intention of putting Ian Flemings James Bond novels on the big screen. Broccoli was not the first film-maker to approach Fleming, but, aided by his shrewd and glamorous wife, the bear-like New Yorker struck up an unlikely friendship with Fleming, an Old Etonian with a marked disdain for Hollywood. I found him a lovely man, Dana Broccoli recalled years later, charming and intelligent.
Moreover, it was Dana Broccoli who decided that an unknown beefcake named Sean Connery was the right man to play Bond in Dr No (1962), the first of the Bond films. Connery had come to Cubby Broccolis attention playing a burly farmhand in a Walt Disney film about leprechauns.
One day, Dana Broccoli later recalled, Cubby called me and said: Could you come down and look at this Disney leprechaun film, Darby OGill and the Little People, at the Goldwyn Studios? I dont know if this Sean Connery guy has any sex appeal. I saw that face and the way he moved and talked, and I said: Cubby, hes fabulous! He was just perfect, he had star material right there.
But she had little sympathy with Connery after he referred, in 1966, to fat-slob producers living off the backs of lean actors, and after Connery issued a law-suit in 1984 against Broccoli demanding more royalties from the Bond films. Connery eventually abandoned the dispute after settling for merchandising rights.
But, following Cubby Broccolis death in 1996, Dana Broccoli was surprised and disappointed when Connery did not appear at the memorial service. I dont have to understand Sean, she said in 2000, and he doesnt need my understanding; hes doing very well without my understanding.
She was born Dana Natol in New York on January 3 1922. Having decided at an early age to become an actress, she attended Cecil Clovellys Academy of Dramatic Arts at Carnegie Hall in New York. There she met her first husband, Lewis Wilson, who was the first actor to play Batman. In 1942 she gave birth to a son, Michael, and three years later the family moved to California where Dana Wilson and her husband joined the Pasadena Playhouse.
After separating from Wilson, she moved to Beverly Hills where she became a screenwriter; in 1959, at a party, she met Broccoli, whose previous wife had died. Broccoli, had been born into an impoverished family of Italian immigrants in Queens, and was a self-made man, descended, apparently, from farmers who had invented broccoli by crossing a cauliflower and a pea.
A keen gambler, he had had a sketchy career, working as a vegetable packer and coffin polisher before getting a job as a tea boy at Twentieth Century Fox. In 1947, while trying to earn some extra dollars, he had got a job selling Christmas trees on a street corner and was particularly struck by a beautiful young woman who had bought one of the trees and for whom he had constructed a stand to hold it. When he was finally introduced to Dana Wilson, 12 years later, he realised that she was the same woman, and she too remembered the incident. Both believed that fate had brought them together.
Following their wedding in Las Vegas (Cary Grant was the best man), the couple returned to Cubby Broccolis house in London. Dana adopted Cubbys two children from his previous marriage and the following year gave birth to a daughter, Barbara.
In 1967, Danjaq LLC, the film company set up by Cubby and Dana Broccoli, produced Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, another of Flemings books; and in 2002 Dana Broccoli produced the successful stage version, which is still running in the West End.
Dana Broccoli also published two novels, Scenario for Murder, and Florinda. She adapted the latter for the musical, La Cava, which was staged in London in 2000.
The Broccolis lived in London for many years until, in 1977, they reluctantly sold their house in Mayfair and moved to Los Angeles for tax reasons. Although the couple enjoyed the wealth acquired through the Bond films (they had a large collection of paintings, including a Renoir and a Picasso) they also raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities, particularly the NSPCC, which benefited greatly from the Broccolis largesse.
In 1977 Dana Broccolis son, Michael G Wilson, and daughter, Barbara Broccoli, took over production of the Bond films, and after her husbands death Dana Broccoli took over as chairman of the board. It was all family, she explained, that was a large part of our success; the big extended family . . . We still see a lot of Timothy Dalton, and Roger [Moore] is always popping in. Roger always liked the pasta and the backgammon.
Cubby Broccolis death left her bereft but by no means bowed. I was very happy taking care of Cubby, she said recently, adding, I would never marry again. Cubby was irreplaceable. We went through so much together, ups and downs, but it has been a fabulous journey.
Dana Broccoli is survived by her two sons and two daughters.
Stroke of genius. There is no other Bond IMO. Sean Connery was the best. Smart woman.
as a tea boy at Twentieth Century Fox
Perhaps for Hollywood's English movie stars? Or a forgivable anglicism for the guy who pushed the coffee wagon?