Sir Ken Adam, 1921-2016
Oscar-winning production designer Sir Ken Adam, who gave the James Bond films of the 1960s and ’70s such a distinctive and expansive look, died last week, aged 95. As well as his sets for seven 007 movies, including
Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice and The Spy Who Loved Me, he also created the ‘War Room’ for the black comedy Dr Strangelove. Less well-known is that he was also responsible for designing the flying car for Chitty
Chitty Bang Bang, as well as James Bond’s gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5 and submersible Lotus Esprit.
Born Klaus Adam in Berlin, his Jewish family fled to England before World War II. He was one of only three German pilots to fly for the RAF during the war.
He started working in film from 1948, and after becoming involved with the James Bond series with Dr
No in 1962, Ken was sent with special effects supervisor John Stears to wrestle a DB5 from a very reluctant Aston Martin for 1964’s Goldfinger. Most of the gadgets developed by Adam and Stears genuinely worked.
When the 007 team filmed Ian Fleming’s children’s book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968, Adam was the natural choice to design the automotive star. ‘Wet Nelly’, the aquatic Lotus Esprit driven (or should that be sailed?) by Roger Moore’s 007, followed in 1977.
Adam was knighted for services to cinema and Anglo-German relations in 2003. Richard Gunn