|Born||May 26, 1909
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||January 4, 1991(1991-01-04) (aged 81)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
|Alma mater||New York University|
|Occupation||Screenwriter, playwright, film producer|
Richard Maibaum (May 26, 1909 – January 4, 1991) was an American film producer, playwright and screenwriter in the United States best known for his screenplay adaptations of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels.
Among his works are the first anti-lynching play on Broadway, The Tree (1932); the first anti-Nazi play on Broadway, Birthright (1933); the first movie that dealt with the problem of medication abuse, Bigger Than Life, written in 1955, released in 1956; the first film that dealt with the ethical and moral decisions in kidnapping cases, Ransom! ; the first film that introduced the American public to the importance of training airmen for the defense of the United States in a war many recognized as coming, I Wanted Wings (Spring, 1941); and Diamonds Are Forever, begun 1970, the first film that discussed the use of laser-like satellite mounted weapons for global warfare."
His papers now reside at his alma mater, the University of Iowa.
In 1930 he came to The University of Iowa's Speech and Dramatic Arts Department, where he studied under E.C.
He was graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1931, and in 1932 he received a master's degree, all the while writing plays and acting.
He was twenty-two and still at the University of Iowa when his anti-lynching play, The Tree, became a 1932 Broadway production under the direction of the young Robert Rossen, later known for Body and Soul (1947) and a life destroyed by the Hollywood blacklist.
Back in New York after graduation, Maibaum spent 1933 as an actor in the Shakespearean Repertory Theater on Broadway.
He appeared in fifteen different roles in many productions.
As a young playwright in the early 1930s in New York City, Maibaum was involved with the challenging politics of the Depression.
In 1933, the year in which Hitler ascended to his dictatorial powers in Germany, Maibaum attacked Nazism in his play, Birthright, also directed by Rossen.
This was the first of several anti-Nazi plays to appear that year.
Maibaum then wrote Sweet Mystery of Life (1935) a stage comedy which eventually became the film Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936).
His rapid rise as a playwright soon earned him a contract as a writer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, then the most powerful and prestigious studio in Hollywood.
While moving to LA and under contract to MGM, he wrote another play, See My Lawyer which was produced in New York by George Abbott and which starred Milton Berle.
This was Maibaum's most successful play, running for 224 episodes from 1939 to 1940.
Maibaum's first credit was The Old School Tie (1936) at MGM.
Maibaum went to Paramount where he worked on I Wanted Wings (1941), a huge hit.
He did some uncredited work on Hold Back the Dawn (1941).
At 20th Century Fox he wrote Ten Gentlemen from West Point (1942).
World War Two
Maibaum joined the U.S. Army in 1942 and, like many other Hollywood writers and directors, was commissioned as a captain in the Signal Corps, During his four and one-half years in the army, he produced war morale films, assembled and disseminated combat film footage (presumably while stationed overseas) and supervised a documentary history of World War II, whose title, length, whereabouts, and, indeed, purpose, are currently unknown.
He eventually achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel.
He contributed to the story for the Olsesen-Johnson film See My Lawyer (1945).
With this experience under his belt, Maibaum returned to Hollywood for a contract at Paramount as a producer and screenwriter.
He wrote and produced his first picture, O.S.S.
This was the beginning of his fruitful association with Alan Ladd.
He wrote and produced The Great Gatsby (1949) also with Alan Ladd and co-written with Yale-educated Cyril Hume.
Maibaum ended up sacking John Farrow as director after a dispute over casting
Maibaum wrote and produced Song of Surrender (1949) for Leisen.
When Broccoli signed Ladd on for a three-picture deal for Warwick, Ladd insisted on Maibaum co-writing the screenplays.
Maibaum moved his family to England in order to do this.
The first Warwick Film, The Red Beret (1953) was a bit hit.
It was followed by Hell Below Zero (1954).
He also began writing for the new medium of television, including short teleplays for The Kate Smith Evening Hour, and the critically acclaimed Emmy nominated "Fearful Decision" starring Ralph Bellamy and Sam Levene which he also co-wrote with Cyril Hume for The United States Steel Hour.
Maibaum returned to The University of Iowa in 1954 for one semester to teach and supervise the "Footsteps of Freedom" project, a teleplay writing course.
Maibaum returned to Hollywood in 1955.
He and Hume adapted "Fearful Decision" for the big screen in Ransom!
(1956) with Glenn Ford.
Maibaum became executive producer at M.G.M.-TV in 1958, for whom he wrote and produced the TV series The Thin Man (1957–59).
His strong ties to the Writer's Guild and the writing profession led him to resign in 1960 during a writer's strike.
He then was invited by Albert Broccoli to write the first James Bond movie.
And thus his future career was sealed.
He wrote the episode "The Medal" for Combat!
(1963), then wrote From Russia with Love (1963), sharing credit with Harwood.
He was one of several writers on Thunderball (1965).
Albert Broccoli wanted to produce a non-Bond movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), and Maibaum did some work on the script.
Maibaum was brought back to the Bond movies to work on Mankiewicz's draft of The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).
Maibaum was not used on Moonraker (1979), the producers preferring Wood.
Instead, Maibaum worked on a Bond spoof, S.H.E: Security Hazards Expert (1980).
Maibaum was brought back to work on the Bonds in association with Michael G. Wilson, Broccoli's step-son.
Their first movie together was For Your Eyes Only (1981).
It was followed by Octopussy (1983), on which George MacDonald Fraser also did a draft; A View to a Kill (1985), Moore's last Bond; The Living Daylights (1987), the first Bond from Timothy Dalton, whom Maibaum considered the best actor of the four Bonds; and Licence to Kill (1989).
Maibaum once told an interviewer that writing for Bond is "a case of Walter Mitty.
I'm law-abiding and non-violent.
My great kick comes from feeling that I'm a pro, that I know my job, and that I have enough experience that I can write a solid screenplay."
On writing the Bonds Maibaum said "The real trick of it is to find the villain's caper.
Once you've got that, you're off to the races and the rest is fun."
Maibaum is credited with adding the essential ingredient of humor to the James Bond stories, an element lacking in the original Fleming novels.
Maibaum continued working on Bond films until the end of his life.
He died on January 4, 1991 at the age of 81, survived by his wife, Sylvia (who died in 2006), two sons, Matthew and Paul, and a granddaughter, Shanna Claire.
Partial filmography as screenwriter
Selected films as producer
- O.S.S. (1946)
- The Big Clock (1948)
- The Sainted Sisters (1948)
- Bride of Vengeance (1949)
- The Great Gatsby (1949)
- Song of Surrender (1949)
- Dear Wife (1949)
- No Man of Her Own (1950)
- Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
- Battle at Bloody Beach (1961)
- The Tree (1932)
- Birthright (1933)
- Sweet Mystery of Life (1935)
- See My Lawyer (1939)
- Middletown Mural
- A Moral Entertainment
- The Paradise Question
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard Maibaum.