Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stars now – career U-turns, Hollywood icons and dementia

It’s fair to say that all everyone who remembered watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a child wanted to join Jeremy and Jemima Potts in their magical car as they rode off for fun filled adventures.

And you were sure to have a chuckle or two with Dick Van Dyke behind the wheel as you munched down on all the Toot Sweets you could manage along the way.

Based on the novel written by James Bond author Ian Fleming, the beloved musical has stood the test of time since it was first released on the silver screen in 1968.

The Hollywood film went on to smash box office records and even went on to become a West End classic thanks to the wonderful music from the Sherman Brothers and the memories of the Child Catcher which still haunt our nightmares.

Now as Dick van Dyke marks his 96th birthday, the Daily Star has taken a look to see where the famous characters are today.

Dick Van Dyke – Caractacus Potts

A renowned legend of the stage and screen, Dick was already a huge star before he joined the cast of the Hollywood musical after he wrapped up filming as chimney sweep Bert in Mary Poppins just four years earlier.

The TV legend quickly became a household name in the States following his sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show but he truly became legendary internationally when he performed in the musical hits in the 1960s.

Since then, the star has continued to thrive on screen as he went on to co-star with his son Barry in the TV series Diagnosis Murder.

In more recent years, he joined Ben Stiller in the third instalment of the Night at the Museum franchise and also made a cameo appearance in the 2018 adaptation of Mary Poppins.

Now at the age of 96, the actor continues to perform when he can and is continuing to live out his days with his wonderful wife Arlene Silver who he married in 2012.

Sally Ann Howes – Truly Scrumptious

Sally was already a huge star in her own right before she took on the role of Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

However, it’s fair to say that her part in the legendary movie went on to be her biggest role in her acting career to date.

But the actress nearly missed out on the role as producer initially offered the role to Julie Andrews after the success of Mary Poppins.

Luckily, Julie turned down the role because she thought it was too similar to Poppins and saw the character as a second fiddle to Potts.

Now, at the age of 90, Sally is living a more peaceful life with her husband and children but still regularly attends charity functions as well as acting as an artistic advisor for the Palm Beach Theatre Guild in Florida.

Heather Ripley – Jemima Potts

Young Heather was just eight-years-old when she took on the role of Jemima, but unlike many of her other co-stars, the actress struggles to look back on the movie with fond memories.

While filming the Hollywood film, the blonde beauty was harassed by the paparazzi following the breakdown of her parent’s marriage after her father’s public affair was leaked to the press.

As she looked back on what it was like shooting the film at the time, she confessed she struggled with the pressures of being a child star in the 1960s and later blamed it for the breakup of her family.

She made the decision early on to leave the acting world behind her and later became an activist and campaigner, including fighting against the Newbury bypass and the Faslane nuclear submarine base in Scotland.

Now aged 61, Heather has revealed that her change from money and fame had been refreshing and she now enjoys a life filled with purpose and meaning.

Adrian Hall – Jeremy Potts

The role of Jeremy Potts was child actor Adrian Hall’s biggest claim to fame as his acting career soon dwindled off after the Hollywood musical arrived in theatres.

The actor went on to appear in several UK television programmes and even performed in the West End throughout the early 1970s, but he made the decision to leave acting behind him and become a teacher instead.

It has been reported that the Hollywood star actually had to remove his role in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from his CV because budding agents simply registered him as a child.

Now the child actor is the principal of the London’s Academy of Live and Recorded Arts where he also acts as one of ALRA’s safeguarding officers.

Adrian admits he finds teaching more rewarding than acting itself, as he explained: “If you are on stage for two hours you get a round of applause and that’s it."

At the age of 62, the teacher has gone on to retire and enjoy a quiet life with a small family of his own.

Lionel Jeffries – Grandpa Potts

Similarly, to his character in the film, Lionel also served time in the army before he got into the world of acting.

His time in service unfortunately caused him to start balding at a young age which allowed him to play much older characters.

Despite playing the older generation in the film, Lionel was actually six months younger than his fellow co-star Dick.

Later on in his film career, the actor moved from working in front of the camera to writing and directing from behind it.

Two of his biggest films to date have been The Railway Children and The Amazing Mr. Blunden which were both well received by audiences across the globe.

The star retired back in 2001 due to his declining health and sadly passed away in 2010 at the age of 83 after suffering from vascular dementia.

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