Sally Ann Howes stars in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968
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The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie is often thought of as one of the best family films of all time, but its origins are unexpectedly dreadful. By 1961 Fleming had written and released ten James Bond novels, but in April of the same year, he had a heart attack at the age of 53. Doctors ordered him to take some time to rest, and during this time his only child, eight-year-old Caspar Fleming, told the author how unloved he was feeling.
Caspar reportedly told Fleming: “Daddy, you love James Bond more than you love me!”
In response to this horrible statement, Fleming decided to show his affection to his son in the only way he knew: by writing.
Fleming wrote a novel titled The Magical Car, dedicated to his son, otherwise known as his “003-and-a-half”.
Once the writer had finished penning the series its name had been changed to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – but the worst was still yet to come.
Three years later, on August 11 1964, Fleming had another heart attack. This time it was extremely serious, prompting medical professionals to take him to the hospital immediately. The following morning, on August 12, 1964, the author died. He was 56-years-old. His last recorded words were taken in the ambulance, where he said: “I am sorry to trouble you chaps. I don’t know how you get along so fast with the traffic on the roads these days.”
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Fleming was buried in Sevenhampton near Swindon.
The day of his death, August 12, was also the 12th birthday of his son Caspar.
Fleming never got to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang go to print, as it was due to be published October that year.
Four years later a Bond boss, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, produced the cinematic version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang starring Dick Van Dyke.
Fleming’s death deeply affected his son, Caspar, however.
His mother, Ann Fleming, was especially worried about him. She once wrote to her friend, novelist Evelyn Waugh, with her fears for the youngster.
Ann reportedly said: “Caspar hates me and talks of little but matricide. What shall I do?”
11 years after Fleming’s death, on October 2, 1975, Caspar died by suicide aged 23.
Caspar reportedly left a note behind in his pyjama pocket telling of his despair.
It included the line: “If it is not this time it will be the next.”
Caspar was buried next to his father in Sevenhampton.
Ann died in 1981 and was buried with her husband and son.
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