Albert Romolo Broccoli, CBE (Hon) (5 April 1909 – 27 June 1996), nicknamed "Cubby," was an Academy Award-winning American film producer, who made more than 40 motion pictures throughout his career, most of them in the United Kingdom, and often filmed at Pinewood Studios. Co-founder of Danjaq, LLC and EON Productions, Broccoli is most notable as the producer of the iconic James Bond films. He and Harry Saltzman saw the films from relatively low-budget origins to large-budget, high-grossing extravaganzas, and Broccoli's heirs continue to produce new Bond films.
Broccoli was born into an Italian-American family on Long Island. The family moved to Florida, and on the death of his father Giovanni, Broccoli moved to live with his grandmother in Astoria, Queens in New York City. Having worked many jobs, including casket maker, Broccoli then became involved in the film industry. He started at the bottom, despite his new found fortune, working as a gofer on Howard Hughes' The Outlaw (1941), which starred Jane Russell. Here he met his life-long friend Howard Hughes for the first time, while Hughes was overseeing the movie's production after director Howard Hawks was fired. Broccoli rose quickly to the level of Assistant Director by the time the U.S. entered World War II.
During his early period in Hollywood, Broccoli may have taken part in a bar room brawl which took the life of comedian Ted Healy. According to E. J. Fleming's book The Fixers, Broccoli, his cousin, gangster Pasquale 'Pat' DiCicco, and film star Wallace Beery fought with Healy and beat him to death. Fleming asserts that MGM executives Eddie Mannix and Howard Strickling, in an attempt to save the reputation of their star Beery, fabricated a story about college students attacking Healy, immediately followed by a four-month trip to Europe for Beery. Immigration records confirm a four-month trip to Europe on Beery's part immediately after Healy's death, ending April 17, 1938.
Broccoli joined the United States Navy following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and afterward worked several years as an agent at the Famous Artists Agency. He returned to production crew work again as an assistant director, a second unit director, then director and producer doing several films a year and continually working his way up the ladder while establishing many key personal contacts with Hollywood luminaries and movie moguls.
London subsidy and the origins of Bond
At the beginning of the 1950s Broccoli moved once more, this time to London, where the British government provided subsidies to film productions made in the UK with British casts and crews. Together with Irving Allen, Broccoli formed Warwick Films that made a prolific and successful series of films for Columbia Pictures.
When Broccoli became interested in bringing Ian Fleming's James Bond character into features, he discovered that the rights were already tied up by another American, Harry Saltzman, who had long wanted to break into film, and who had produced several stage plays and films with only modest success. When the two were introduced by a mutual friend, screenwriter Wolf Mankowitz, Saltzman refused to sell the rights but agreed to partner with Broccoli and co-produce the films, which led to the creation of the production company EON Productions and its parent (holding) company Danjaq, LLC, named after the two wives' first names—Dana and Jacquiline.
Saltzman and Broccoli produced the first Bond movie, Dr. No, in 1962. Their second, From Russia With Love, was a breakout success and from then on, the films grew in cost, action, and ambition. With larger casts, more difficult stunts and special effects, and a continued dependence on exotic locations, the franchise became essentially a full-time job. Broccoli made one notable attempt at a non-Bond film, an adaptation of Ian Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968, and due to legal wrangling over the rights to story elements, ceded producer credit on Thunderball to Kevin McClory. Nonetheless, by the mid-1960s Broccoli had put nearly all of his energies into the Bond series. Saltzman's interests continued to range apart from the series, including production of a loose trilogy of spy films based on Len Deighton's Harry Palmer, a character who operates in a parallel universe to Bond, with all the danger but none of the glamour and gadgets. Saltzman and Broccoli had differences over Saltzman's outside commitments, but in the end it was Saltzman who withdrew from Danjaq and EON after a series of financial mishaps. While Saltzman's departure brought the franchise a step closer to corporate control, Broccoli lost relatively little independence or prestige in the bargain. From then until his death, the racy credits sequence to every EON Bond film would begin with the words "Albert R. Broccoli Presents." Although from the 1970s onward the films became lighter in tone and looser in plot, at times less successful with critics, the series distinguished itself in production values and continued to appeal to audiences.
In 1966, Albert was in Japan with other producers scouting locations to film the next James Bond Film You Only Live Twice. Albert had a ticket booked on BOAC Flight 911. He canceled his ticket on that day so he could see a ninja demonstration. Flight 911 crashed after clear air turbulence.
Broccoli married three times. In 1940, at the age of 31, he married actress Gloria Blondell (the younger sister of Joan Blondell); they later divorced amicably in 1945 without having had children. In 1951, he married Nedra Clark, and the couple were told they had fertility problems and would never have children. They adopted a son Tony Broccoli, after which Nedra became pregnant. She died in 1958, soon after giving birth to their daughter, Tina Broccoli. At the time of Nedra's illness, while nursing her in America, Albert Broccoli became convinced that Bond would make a good movie series, and set up a meeting between Ian Fleming and his partner in London.
In the very late 1950s, Broccoli married actress and novelist Dana Wilson (née Dana Natol). They had a daughter together, Barbara Broccoli, and Albert Broccoli became a mentor to Dana's teenage son, Michael G. Wilson. Broccoli insisted on keeping his family close to him when possible. Consequently the children grew up around the Bond film sets, and his wife's influence on various production decisions is alluded to in many informal accounts.
Michael Wilson made uncredited cameo appearances in Bond films from his teens onward, and in adulthood worked his way up through the production company to co-write and co-produce. Barbara Broccoli, in her turn, served in several capacities under her father's tutelage from the 1980s on. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have co-produced the films since the elder Broccoli's death.
Dana Broccoli died of cancer in 2004, aged 82.
Later life and honors
In 1981, he was honored with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his work in film; the award was presented at the 1981 Academy Awards ceremony by the current James Bond at that time, Roger Moore in 1982. Broccoli also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (as Cubby Broccoli).
A thoroughbred horse racing enthusiast, Albert Broccoli owned Brocco, who won the 1993 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park at Arcadia, California.
An autobiography was published posthumously in 1999, entitled When the Snow Melts: The Autobiography of Cubby Broccoli (ISBN 978-0752211626).
The end of Tomorrow Never Dies displays the dedication "In loving memory of Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli."
Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli died at his home in Beverly Hills in 1996 at the age of 87 of heart failure. He had undergone a triple heart bypass earlier that year. He was interred in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles following a Roman Catholic Mass of Christian Burial, attended by some of the James Bond movies' cast members, including Desmond Llewelyn, Maryam D'Abo and Timothy Dalton.
Producer with Harry Saltzman
Dr. No (film) (1962)
From Russia with Love (film) (1963)
Goldfinger (film) (1964)
Thunderball (film) (1965)
You Only Live Twice (film) (1967)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (film) (1969)
Diamonds Are Forever (film) (1971)
Live and Let Die (film) (1973)
The Man with the Golden Gun (film) (1974)
The Spy Who Loved Me (film) (1977)
Moonraker (film) (1979)
For Your Eyes Only (film) (1981)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
With Michael G. Wilson
A View To A Kill (1985)
The Living Daylights (1987)
Licence to kill (1989)
GoldenEye (1995) (credited as presenter)
Moonraker (film) (1979)- Tourist in Venice with Dana Broccoli.
1.^ Fleming, E.J., The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and the MGM Publicity Machine, MacFarland & Co., 2004, ISBN 0786420278
2.^ Ile de France passenger list, p. 117, line 9, Microfilm roll T715_6140