Sally Ann Howes was the iconic child’s Christmas film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Fans have paid their respects to her since Sunday when she died at the age of ninety-one. 

The actress, who made her first appearance on screen aged just 12, passed away just months after the death of her husband of 48 years, British literary agent Douglas Rae, in September. 

During a glittering career on stage and screen, Ms Howes, who was born in London in 1930 to actress Patricia Malone and actor Bobby Howes, was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in 1963 musical Brigadoon and starred in My Fair Lady as Eliza Doolittle.

Many will remember Ms. Howe’s role as Truly Scrumptious from the Disney film. This 1968 movie, which was reinvented on global stages, including Broadway, in decades past, was inspired by Bond author Ian Fleming and was then adapted by Roald Dahl for the screen. 

It tells the story of a charismatic inventor Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) who creates a magical flying car. It follows Potts and Jemima (Adrian Hall and Heather Ripley), as they tell Truly Scrumptious a story about Baron Bomburst (Gert Forobe) and their attempts to seize the Potts’ amazing flying car. 

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang star Sally Ann Howes has died aged 91 following a stage and screen career that spanned six decades. The actress, who made her first appearance on screen aged 12, passed away on Sunday

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang star Sally Ann Howes has died aged 91 following a stage and screen career that spanned six decades. On Sunday, the actress who appeared onscreen for the first time at age 12 died.

She starred in children's classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as Truly Scrumptious alongside Dick Van Dyke in 1968. Pictured, Ms Howes as Truly pictured on set during filming of the Disney classic film - which has spawned stage show on the West End and Broadway

As Truly Scrumptious, Ms. Howes starred as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968. Pictured is Ms. Howes and Truly on-set during the filming of Disney’s classic film. This show has been adapted for the West End.

The film cemented the career of Dick Van Dyke (pictured as Caractacus Potts) as one of Hollywood's greats...and Howes would also go on to enjoy a lustrous career. However, the child stars in the film both turned their backs on fame in adulthood

It cemented Dick Van Dyke’s career as a great Hollywood actor…and Howes would go on to have a glittering career. The film’s child stars, however, turned their backs upon fame as adults. 

FEMAIL explores the story of the film’s cast following Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which made them famous in the Sixties.  

Dick Van Dyke, Caractacus Potters

Dick Van Dyke, cast in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang while in his early forties, was already a major star when he agreed to take on the role of inventor Caractacus Potts in the Disney classic – a 1964 appearance as loveable chimney sweep Bert in Mary Poppins alongside Julie Andrews had made him instantly A-list. 

After five decades, the actor, singer, dancer and choreographer, just turned 96, continues to be a strong man. His acting work seems to still be coming in. 

Hollywood icon now lives in Malibu, California with his wife Arlene Silver (makeup artist), who is more than 40 years younger. 

Dick Van Dyke, then in his early forties, played charismatic inventor Caractacus Potts in the Disney classic; he was already a global star thanks to his role as chimney sweep Bert in 1964 film Mary Poppins alongside Julie Andrews

Still going strong! Now 96, the actor, singer and dancer is still working. He was honoured at the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC in May this year - and was introduced to the stage by Julie Andrews

Dick Van Dyke, then in his early forties, played charismatic inventor Caractacus Potts in the Disney classic; he was already a global star thanks to his role as chimney sweep Bert in 1964 film Mary Poppins alongside Julie Andrews. Right: Still going strong! Actor, singer and dancer now at 96, he is still active. At the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors, Washington DC in May 2018, he received this honor.

Van Dyke’s career spans over seven decades. He has won five Emmys and a Tony. A Grammy. The SAG Lifetime Achievement Award and the BAFTA. 

Television was his forte and he won many awards. He played Rob Petrie (1961-1966), The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971-1974), and The Carol Burnett Show (1997). 

The most recent role for the actor is in Capture The Flag which is in pre-production. Van Dyke will be celebrating 10 years marriage with Silver next February.

He has four children: sons Barry and Christian and daughters Stacy and Carrie that were born during his first marriage to Margie Willett, which lasted from 1948 until their divorce in 1984. The proud family man also now has five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  

The Hollywood legend lives in Malibu with his wife of nine years, professional makeup artist Arlene Silver, 50. Pictured, with Ms Howe in October 2010 in Los Angeles

He lives with Arlene Silber, a professional make-up artist, in Malibu. Photo taken October 2010, Los Angeles, by Ms. Howe

Silver is his nine-year-old wife. She was a SAG Awards make-up artist in 2005. She was attracted to him by his smile, which is infectious, like so many other people. 

She was able to recall the following: The Huffington Post “I can still remember Dick sitting at the table, his big smile and bow tie. When I sat down to eat, he was next to my table. 

His response was, “Hi, Dick.” The first thing I asked him was, “Weren’t you in Mary Poppins?”‘

Van Dyke was presented by Julie Andrews, a long-time friend and colleague. 

Kennedy Center Honorees are honored for their contribution to American culture in the performing arts of music, dance and opera. They are confirmed by the Executive Committee of Center’s Board of Trustees. 

Van Dyke shared his thoughts on showbusiness and how it has shaped him.

‘All those numbers reminded me of how much fun I had over the years,’ he said at the prestigious event, adding, ‘I wasn’t working for a living – they were paying me to play!’       

Heather Ripley plays Jemima Potters

Heather Ripley was just eighteen when she starred in the movie. However, her mischievous demeanour made her as popular as Jemima Potters, making her now 62. 

However, her acting career was brief. In adulthood, the Scot has mostly avoided public attention.

Despite appearing bound for Hollywood, and even presenting flowers to the Queen at the film’s premiere at London’s Odeon Leicester Square on December 16, 1968, Ripley has always maintained that she regretted starring in the film; she would eventually drop out of society and reinvent herself as an eco-warrior, peace campaigner and anti-roads protester.

At one point, Ripley lived rough for six months in a ‘bender’ (a shelter made from branches and tarpaulin) to try to stop the building of the Newbury bypass. One time she was stopped from traffic by blocking the Faslane nuclear submarine station on the River Clyde, Scotland. Ripley spent 15 hours in jail.

Heather Ripley shot to fame as Jemima Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; she was just eight when she took on the role - but has spent much of the rest of her life shunning fame, saying she regrets making the film

Heather Ripley was famous for her role as Jemima Potters in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was eight years old when she played the part. However, she has lived most of her adult life hiding from fame and saying that she regrets having made the film.

The children in the film, Heather Ripley and Jeremy Potts, enjoyed a taste of the Hollywood working alongside Dick Van Dyke, who was already an A-lister - but both the films' child stars have turned their backs onthe limelight in adulthood

Heather Ripley, Jeremy Potts and Jeremy Potts were the children featured in the movie. They got a glimpse of Hollywood while working with Dick Van Dyke, an already A-lister – however, both films’ star child actors have turned their backs to the limelight as adults. 

Now a grandmother, she insists such wildness is behind her, having long since re-trained as a massage therapist based at the Findhorn Foundation, the spiritual community on the Moray Firth which has offered a haven for so many of life’s untamed souls. 

‘I’m a hippy and proud of it,’ she previously said. ‘I never liked fame,’ she says. ‘I don’t understand what kids’ big thing is about wanting to be famous. You are always being asked the same question and have no privacy.

‘I do regret being in that film. It had a negative impact on my mental well-being. The amount of attention that I received after the film’s release made me feel overwhelmed. Photographers tried to take me at school and then follow me down the street.

‘This was after working for 14 months solidly on the film when I was so lonely. Adrian was my only friend. [Hall, who played her screen brother Jeremy Potts] and he would usually go home after filming each day.’

After years of therapy and counselling, she describes herself as a survivor of post-traumatic stress, adding: ‘I was only eight at the time. For more than one year, I felt isolated and disconnected from my entire family. It’s not good for any child.’ 

Overwhelmed: The Scottish former actor said the role wreaked havoc on her mental health because there was so much attention from the film on its young stars (Heather Ripley pictured in 2013) - she's now a massage therapist

Ripley, now in her early 60s, was cast just before her eighth birthday in the film...but says she regrets doing it and was lonely on set. She's dedicated much of her life to campaigning to save the environment - and once spent 15 hours in a police cell for lying down in the road and blocking traffic at the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the River Clyde in Scotland

Ex-actress from Scotland said she was overwhelmed by the attention the film paid to its stars. Heather Ripley (pictured in 2013) is now a massage therapist. Right: Ripley, now in her early 60s, has dedicated much of her life to campaigning to save the environment – and once spent 15 hours in a police cell for lying down in the road and blocking traffic at the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the River Clyde in Scotland

When Nanette, her mother Nanette, was the wardrobe mistress at Dundee Rep Theatre and a cast member was ill, she was rescued from complete obscurity. Her performance was spotted by a talent scout, who sent a note south to casting agents who were looking for confident youngsters for a new film based on a children’s novel by 007 author Ian Fleming.

Ripley was six months away from filming when her family traveled to London with Cubby Broccoli, director Ken Hughes and their screen testing. She said: ‘The first question he asked was, “How old are you?”, and I said, “Seven and three-quarters!” They just fell about laughing.

‘Ken almost immediately said: “I think we’ve found Jemima, but what are we going to do about the Scots accent?”

‘Cubby said: “Oh don’t worry, we’ll fix that.” I was worried they meant brain surgery.’

What they actually meant was elocution lessons, provided initially by a woman called Paddy O’Neill, a friend of her mother, who just happened to be having an affair with Heather’s father. 

Heather, 16, fled London to find acting and modeling work. But, it turned out that no one was interested. In the end, Heather survived working as a waitress or chambermaid. Her fee for Chitty, after ten years’ investment, was worth just £7,500 when she received it at 18.

Disillusioned and broke, she decided to train as an optician before returning to Scotland to work for her father’s business. William Hall, an oil-rig worker and labourer, was the man she met here. 

After ten years living in a tenement flat with their two children, with Heather reduced to taking cleaning jobs and William labouring, she bolted again — this time with the children in a gipsy caravan. 

Cosmo was just 12 when Cosmo tried to get on the mechanical digger and was photographed. Cosmo wanted to return to live with his dad. Josie was her only child. She stayed with him until the age of 11 before returning to their family home. 

Heather had a brief role in a short film called The Interview screened at 2004’s Edinburgh Film Festival and helps film the foundation’s occasional live-streaming events.

Recently, she contributed her voice to an animation created by amateurs in the Scottish Borders. She phoned in her performance — all two lines of dialogue.

Jeremy Potts, played by Adrian Hall

Playing blonde haired Jeremy Potts (pictured right), Adrian Hall seemingly had the world at his feet, but after performances on stage and in TV in his teens, he turned his attentions to teaching

Adrian Hall, a blonde-haired Jeremy Potts, seemed to have the whole world at his feet. But after performing on TV and stage in his teens, he decided that teaching was his passion.

Caractacus Potts played by Dick Van Dyke, (centre) Heather Ripley as Jemima Potts and Jeremy Potts played by Adrian Hall in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Caractacus Potts as played by Dick Van Dyke. Heather Ripley plays Jemima Potts (center), and Jeremy Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Adrian Hall.

Adrian Hall is now 62 and was just nine when he starred in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This film marked the peak of his acting career. 

He stated that he did not know the size of the movie when he shot it at Pinewood. So he returned to school right after shooting.  

He played Jeremy Potts with blonde hair. His cheeky smile won over audiences and he went on to perform on stage in London’s West End throughout his teenage years.

Mr Hall became an acting teacher and eventually, principal at a the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts before his resignation earlier this year (appearing on Lorraine in 2018)

Before resigning earlier in the year, Mr. Hall was an acting teacher and then principal of the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. He appeared on Lorraine 2018

But he decided to teach acting and he was appointed Principal at The Academy Of Live and Recorded Arts. This role was resigned earlier this year. In 2018, he said on Lorraine that he told students about his famed past. His two grown-up sons now find themselves at the ’embarrassment Stage’ discussing their father’s status as child stars.

Hall is still a frequent guest at fan conventions. He also appears in new Broadway and West End productions. 

Wigan Today interviewed him in 2018: “Chitty is part my history. I wouldn’t try to conceal it nor deny it.” It’s a piece of British film history and in the course of my life I’ve met some incredible people and been to some brilliant places, all because of it. It’s been a great blessing for me.

Robert Helpmann portrays the child catcher 

Australian ballet dancer Sir Robert Helpmann, known as ‘Bobbie’ was anything but graceful in the role of the child catcher, a whole generation of children lived in fear of such a character after Helpmann’s portrayal in the film. 

Helpmann’s authentic personality was revealed when the camera stopped rolling. Co-stars described the now 60-year old as kind and friendly.

As a child star, he was recognized as one the best dancers in his country. He would later try burlesque. 

The stuff of nightmares! The child catcher terrified children who watched the film...but Sir Robert Helpmann, who was 60 at the time he played the role, was said to be kind and charming on set

This is the stuff of nightmares. Children who saw the movie were terrified by the child catcher…but sir Robert Helpmann (60 at the time) was charming and kind on set 

Heralded as one of the greatest young dancers in Australia when he was a teenager, Helpmann had a troubled relationship with his home country, describing how he was once 'dumped in the sea' for wearing nail polish on Bondi Beach

When he was just a teenager Helpmann was considered one of Australia’s greatest dancers. However, Helpmann was not always a happy person in Australia. He described how being a Bondi Beach nail-polish wearer once led to him being ‘dumped in water’.

Helpmann returned home to Australia in the early 1970s and became co-director for the Australian Ballet Company. He fled to London in the late Seventies, and criticized the Australian approach to art.  

He is known for being an advocate of LGBT+ rights and was openly gay. He lived with his partner Michael Benthall until Benthall’s passing in 1974. His painted eyebrows and plucking eyebrows made him feel resentful about being ‘dumped on the beach’ by homophobic grifters in the 60s.

After a difficult relationship with his homeland, things turned around for him. He moved to Sydney and later died there at the age of 77.  

Lionel Jeffries portrays Grandpa Potts

A 40-year-old Grandpa Potts - Lionel Jeffries grew a beard and shaved his head to look older for the film

He continued to act in his later years, pictured here in an episode of the BBC television series 'Casualty' in 1992 - he died in Dorset at the age of 83 in 2010

For the movie, a 40-year old Grandpa Potts-Lionel Jeffries grew his beard and had his hair shaved. His acting career continued into his later years. This is him in 1992’s episode of BBC’s ‘Casualty.’ He died in Dorset in 2010.

Although he was playing a grandfather in the film, Lionel Jeffries, born in London in 1925, was actually younger – by half a year – than Dick Van Dyke, born in 1926, at the time of filming.

Already an established character actor, Jeffries had starred in films such as The Colditz Story (1955) and Camelot (1967), playing King Pellinore in the latter.

After Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s success with kids’ movies, he became obsessed with writing and wrote the 1970s favorite The Railway Children and The Amazing Mr Blunden.  

Jeffries had an unfortunate encounter with death when he made a television appearance on the Comedy Tom, Dick and Harriet, 1983. He was in a stunt scene where a car plunged into a lake. Jeffries was able to rescue his vehicle and avoided drowning for seconds.    

In 2010, the actor, who was 83 years old, died.

Gert Frobe plays Baron Bomburst 

A symbol of the aristocracy gone wrong, Gert Frobe played Baron Bomburst, who was hated for his attempts to steal the Potts' Chitty Chitty car

A symbol of the aristocracy gone wrong, Gert Frobe played Baron Bomburst, who was hated for his attempts to steal the Potts’ Chitty Chitty car

Remember this? German actor Gert Frobe left Bond fans unnerved after appearing as Goldfinger in 1964...his role as Baron Bomburst didn't help enhance his image either...

Do you remember this? German actor Gert Frobe left Bond fans unnerved after appearing as Goldfinger in 1964…his role as Baron Bomburst didn’t help enhance his image either…

Gert Frobe, the German actor who hates children, was seen by Baron Bomburst as Robert Helpmann’s child catcher. He is considered to be one of the worst stars in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  

A career in playing bad guys was what he made, and he had already appeared as Auric Goldfinger four years before.

Born in Saxony, Germany, Frobe starred in 100 films during his career. His political views were controversial. Frobe was a Nazi Party member during World War II. Negative sentiment towards him persisted even after it was discovered that he helped protect Jewish residents from German police. 

According to reports, he told the Daily Mail in 1965 that ‘Naturally I was Nazi.’ But he later denied this, telling an English reporter: “What I said was that I had the chance to assist two Jewish people during the Third Reich, even though I was part of the Nazi party.

The German star passed away in 1988 from a heart attack while staying at a spa resort near Munich at the age of 75. 

Baron Bomburst played by Anna Quayle  

Another crook! Birmingham-born Anna Quayle played obnoxious Baroness Bomhurst, who decides to hire the child catcher to try and steal Chitty

Another fraud! Another crook! 

The actor, who had worked as a model in her youth, enjoyed a string of hit shows - and won a Tony for Stop the World – I Want to Get Off

Many will remember Quayle's role as Miss Monroe in British school drama Grange Hill; she died in 2019 at the age of 86

The actor, who had worked as a model in her youth, enjoyed a string of hit shows – and won a Tony for Stop the World – I Want to Get Off. Quayle was most well-known for her role as Miss Monroe in the British school drama Grange Hill. Quayle died in 2019, at the age.

Birmingham-born Anna Quayle took on the slapstick role of obnoxious Baroness Bomhurst, who decides to hire the child catcher to try and steal Chitty.

She’d worked as a fashion model and starred in Beatles’ film hit A Hard Day’s Night and Casino Royale. Her role in the original 1963 production of the musical Stop the World – I Want to Get Off won her a Tony. 

Although her career was at its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, she was still a popular star on television in the 1980s. She appeared on several quizzes such as Give Us a Clue With Lionel Blair. 

The role of Miss Monroe was a four-year old character that she played. 

Quayle was blessed with one child by Donald Baker. She wed him in 1976, but the union ended in divorce. At 86, she passed away in October 2019. 


Nothing like a Dame to be! Barbara Windsor also claimed a small role in the film...but many fans might have missed her. The actor, who died in December 2020 was cast as a 'blonde'

It’s hard to find a Dame like her! Barbara Windsor was also a part of the movie, but many people might not have noticed her. Actor, Charles Windsor, died December 2020. He was played as a “blonde” 

Windsor, who died last year, pictured with her husband Scott Mitchell in 2019, continued to enjoy huge success as an actor

Windsor, who was killed last year. In this photo, she is with Scott Mitchell.

You’ll see her if you blink, but Barbara Windsor was a British treasure and she also played a small role in this children’s movie. 

Unsurprisingly, the EastEnders and Carry On star was a blonde and was seen in a red and white polka dots dress with a straw boater. The Dame to be, who died in December 2020, played the part with her usual exuberance though, showcasing a Carry On-esque expression. 

Barbara was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014. She kept her battle with the illness a secret for 4 years.  

The star, who died aged 83 following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, left her husband of twenty years, Scott Mitchell, £4.6million in her will.