AFTER 50 YEARS, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CAST...
1. BENNY HILL - ‘THE TOYMAKER’
His cameo role in Chitty came after he had already found success with The Benny Hill Show. As The Toymaker, he stood by helplessly as The Child Catcher raided his workshop. Hill, who died in Middlesex, England, in 1992, had become a huge star on US TV and had a hit record in 1971 with Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West). He never married or had children.
2. DICK VAN DYKE – ‘CARACTACUS POTTS’
Despite being celebrated for his moves in Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Van Dyke did not start dancing until he was in his thirties. He struggled with alcoholism and finances throughout his career. But his fortunes turned after his performance as the district attorney in Dick Tracy (1990). In a cameo role in the new Mary Poppins sequel, he reprises his tap-dancing skills – and his dubious Cockney accent.
3. HEATHER RIPLEY – ‘JEMIMA POTTS’
Born in Dundee to a wardrobe mistress mother, she was around the theatre from an early age. However, Chitty was her only major acting role. After her parents’ divorce, she moved to Ireland with her mother, returning to Dundee at 14. But two years later she ran away, blaming the film for robbing her of a normal life. She did odd jobs and became an environmental protester. A mother of two, she is now a massage practitioner.
4. LIONEL JEFFRIES – ‘GRANDPA POTTS’
Following his beloved role in Chitty, he became a director. In 1970 he wrote and directed the film adaptation of the classic novel The Railway Children. He died in 2010 at the age of 83.
5. ADRIAN HALL – ‘JEREMY POTTS’
Now 59, he was plucked from his Saturday morning stage school to play Jemima’s brother Jeremy. After Chitty, he failed to land various roles and took his most famous acting credit off his CV. After a moderately successful career in West End theatre, he became a drama teacher.
6. SALLY ANN HOWES – ‘TRULY SCRUMPTIOUS’
Born in London, her first starring role was on stage in Glasgow, aged 20. As Truly Scrumptious, Ms Howes, by then 38, was adored by children and adults alike but her film roles became sporadic. A frequent guest on TV game shows in the 1960s, she eventually returned to theatre. Now 88, she lives in New York.
7. ROBERT HELPMANN – ‘THE CHILD CATCHER’
Known as ‘Sir Bobby’, Helpmann was a worldrenowned ballet dancer who had starred alongside Margot Fonteyn, Vivien Leigh and Moira Shearer. His glittering career included being made CBE and KBE. A long-time smoker, The Child Catcher, left, died in 1986, aged 77.