Ian Fleming’s unhappy artistic collaborator

The UK Daily Mail has posted today an interesting story concerning a frequently unexamined sector of James Bond history.

The name “Richard Chopping” may be somewhat unfamiliar to most James Bond fans, but, to aficionados of Ian Fleming’s novels, it should be as the artist who created striking covers for the British Jonathan Cape hardcovers, starting with Diamonds Are Forever and continuing through Octopussy And The Living Daylights.

Chopping's FRWL cover for Jonathan Cape

Sadly, the story of late artist’s association with 007 history is not an entirely happy one. The paintings he created — which each took a month to paint — were sold outright to the publishers, with no establishment of royalties to be paid to the artist. This despite the fact that Fleming himself considered Chopping to be his “totally brilliant artistic collaborator,” and the paintings going on to be worth thousands (pounds sterling or dollars… either way, they’re now quite valuable).

Mister Fleming was not a nice man to work for. He was mean.

The whole story, cleverly titled The Man with the Golden Grudge, is at the Mail Online website.

John Forsythe’s (and Hitchcock’s) foray into 1960s spy entertainment

John Forsythe passed away last week and, as his New York Times obituary notes, is best remembered for starring in Dynasty, the prime time soap opera as well as other television roles.

But he also made a foray — albeit a late one — into 1960s spy entertainment. And he made it with no less than Alfred Hitchcock in 1969’s Topaz.

We’ve noted before how Hitchcock’s North by Northwest provided the blueprint for James Bond movies and other ’60s spy entertainment. But while homages were paid to Hitch (From Russia With Love’s helicopter attack on Bond, for example), royalties weren’t. Hitchcock had finally gotten into the spy game with Torn Curtain but that Paul Newman-Julie Andrews film didn’t get the kind of praise of earlier Hitchcock efforts.

Try, try again. Hitchcock came back with Topaz, based on a best-selling novel by Leon Uris. It was set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Forsythe played a U.S. agent and while he’s technically the last actor in the titles it’s done in such a way that you know he’s one of the major actors (“and starring JOHN FORSYTHE as “Michael Nordstrom”).

Topaz wasn’t a big success, either, according to IMDB.com. It’s worth checking out. Its cast includes You Only Live Twice’s Karin Dor, John Vernon, Roscoe Lee Browne and John Van Dreelan. Here’s the trailer:

And here’s the opening titles, with music by Maurice Jarre:

Finally, here’s Hitchcock’s cameo in the film:

UPDATE: Forsythe’s passing was the lead obituatary on ABC’s This Week program, not surprising given two of his most famous TV credits were on ABC. To see the segment, just CLICK HERE.