Above, Cubby Broccoli, left, with Harry Saltzman early in their partnership. Below, Saltzman with wife Jacqueline.

Harry Saltzman

d. Sept. 28, 1994

Harry Saltzman, the producer who partnered with Cubby Broccoli to bring James Bond to the screen, died of a heart attack Sept. 28 at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris. He was 78.

Born in New Brunswick, raised in New York City, Saltzman spent much of his career in Europe. After working in vaudeville and American television (on NBC’s live drama anthology Robert Montgomery Presents, then producing the Buster Crabbe kids adventure, Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion) he got into movie production by forming Woodfall Films in England with director Tony Richardson and playwright John Osborne, filming Osborne’s play “Look Back in Anger,” “The Entertainer” and “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.”

Saltzman left the company in 1960 in search of more entertaining projects, and he was sure the James Bond stories were the vehicle he was looking for. Ian Fleming, who was recovering from his first heart attack and still smarting over the disastrous attempt to film the first Bond movie with Kevin McClory as producer, readily agreed to sell Saltzman a six-month option on all the available Bond books. Saltzman, however, was dismayed to find the major studios distinctly uninterested.

With less than a month remaining, Saltzman was introduced to Cubby Broccoli, who left his own company, Warwick Films, to pursue the Bond books, only to find someone had beaten him to the draw. Rather than let Saltzman’s option expire and chance losing the rights to someone else, Broccoli proposed a partnership. Together they were able to gain the backing of United Artists for a six-picture deal.

The Bond films became Broccoli’s professional life but Saltzman was on to other projects after the Bond series was successfully launched. He bought the film rights to Len Deighton’s spy novels and made a star of Michael Caine in “The Ipcress File,” following with “Funeral in Berlin” and “Billion Dollar Brain.” Saltzman also spent considerable time and energy producing “The Battle of Britain,” released in 1969.

It had been reported as far back as the production of “Thunderball” that Broccoli and Saltzman were not on the friendliest terms. To avoid clashes, they began to alternate direct supervision of the Bond movies. In November 1975, nearly a year after the release of their ninth Bond film, “The Man With the Golden Gun,” Saltzman revealed he was negotiating the sale of his Bond interests to Columbia Pictures, which must have pleased United Artists no end. UA chairman Arthur Krim (who died Sept. 21) soon changed Saltzman’s mind and United Artists (since purchased by MGM) wound up with Saltzman’s half of Danjaq, the Swiss-based company that holds the film rights from Fleming.

Saltzman produced no major screen projects after cashing out his Bond shares and his activities had been restricted since suffering a stroke in 1980.

Originally published in For Your Eyes Only #33.