The Only Major Actors Still Alive From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Ian Fleming is perhaps best known for being the creator of James Bond and the series of novels that center the character, but he's also the mind behind the 1964 children's novel "Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car," which was subsequently turned into the beloved, Academy Award-nominated fantasy movie musical and later, a stage musical. The story focuses on the Potts family, namely, siblings Jeremy and Jemima, who desperately try to set up their widowed inventor father Caractacus with a beautiful woman named Truly Scrumptious. And people had the audacity to make fun of the character names in "The Hunger Games" series? Tsk. Tsk. During a day at the beach, Caractacus tells the children a fantastical tale about the villainous Baron Bomburst, the tyrant ruler of the land of Vulgaria, and his attempts to steal their magical family car, the titular Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" is a whimsical story through and through, with vibrant characters, lavish costuming, magical special effects, and songs that will surely get stuck in your head for generations. Alas, as the film came out in 1968, the majority of the cast has since passed on. Sally Ann Howes (Truly Scrumptious), Lionel Jeffries (Grandpa 'Bungy' Potts), Gert Fröbe (Baron Bomburst), Anna Quayle (Baroness Bomburst), Benny Hill (Toymaker), James Robertson Justice (Lord Scrumptious), Robert Helpmann (Child Catcher), and Davy Kaye (Admiral) have all left the mortal plane, as did supporting performers Alexander Doré, Bernard Spear, Stanley Unwin, Peter Arne, Desmond Llewelyn, Victor Maddern, and Arthur Mullard as Big Man.

Fortunately, three cast members are still around today, and here's where you can learn what they've been up to after all these years.

Dick Van Dyke (Caractacus Potts)

At 98 years young, some may be shocked to learn that Dick Van Dyke is fortunately still with us! Arguably the most well-known member of the film's cast, Van Dyke's career spanned over seven decades, finding success on stage and screens — big and small. He's an Academy Award shy of being an EGOT recipient, is a member of the Television Hall of Fame, was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2021, received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, the Kennedy Center Honors in 2021, and is officially listed as a Disney legend. On December 21, 2023, he was honored with the CBS special "Dick Van Dyke: 98 Years of Magic," in honor of his 98th birthday.

"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" came just a year after Dick Van Dyke would co-star in "Mary Poppins," and the increased visibility allowed his show, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" to enjoy six well-received seasons. Most recently, Dick Van Dyke became the oldest competitor on "The Masked Singer" as the Gnome in 2023, and was promoted as "the most legendary, decorated, and beloved unmasking in history." He delivered a rousing performance of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from "Mary Poppins" as an encore, and completely brought the house down. He's certainly one of the last of his generation, and we're lucky to still have him around.

Heather Ripley (Jemima Potts) and Adrian Hall (Jeremy Potts)

Heather Ripley was a perfect Jemima Potts, but many may not know that this was her only professional film role. She first began acting on the stage as a child in her native Scotland, taking extensive acting classes to sound British for the role in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." After the film's success, Ripley continued auditioning for more roles but never found another role quite like Jemima. She eventually became an optometrist and joined her family's business, and became an activist to protect the environment and spread the word against nuclear power. Fortunately, Ripley is always down to make an appearance for retrospective documentaries, TV shows, charity specials, and other "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" events.

Child actor Adrian Hall is also still around, and while Jeremy Potts is arguably still his most widely-known role, he also appeared in "Jason King," "The Viaduct," and "Jemima Shore Investigates." More recently, he was the Principal of the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA), a fine arts school, but resigned in 2021 after accusations of racism. A full report stated that the school allowed racists and bigots the space to "parade their sense of superiority with impunity" and created a "humiliating, hostile and exclusive" environment for students of color." Hall has since maintained a low public profile, for obvious reasons.