THE "THUNDERBALL" STORY

THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE FIRST JAMES BOND SCREENPLAY WRITTEN

BY JACK WHITTINGHAM

With excerpts from 1963 Court Case Documents

Chronology compiled by Sylvan Whittingham Mason

POST THUNDERBALL

1962

Jack takes up sailing (Went to the boat show; ordered small ketch; bought 6 books on sailing; spent weekend on friend Tom Farmiloe’s boat and set off for France. Miraculously survived many mishaps.
Known as "Basher" Whittingham at Solent boatyard.

1964

Jack writes ‘Danger Man’ scripts for television

August 1965

Sylvan launches Jack’s boat and her pop record "We Don’t Belong".

1967

Jack writes screenplay about Ian Fleming based on John Pearson’s
biography for The Sunday Times.

1969

Jack writes screenplay about Oleg Penkovsky with Greville Wynne as consultant.

1971

Operation for throat cancer at Royal Marsden Hospital. Continued to smoke in spite of Doctor's advice – thought it highly amusing to blow smoke rings through hole in throat!!

1972

Jack dies in Malta aged 62 of merciful heart attack one month, sadly, before the birth of first grandchild Samuel to Jonathan and Jessica Whittingham, and Suilven’s (Sylvan’s) wedding to songwriter Barry Mason.

1975

Ivor Bryce libels Jack & Kevin in his book "You Only Live Once" and Kevin McClory sues. The allegations were categorically withdrawn and Kevin was awarded "a substantial sum" for damages.

Apology made in the High Courts in 1975
to Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham’s widow

1975

In the statement in the High Court in the libel action on ’You Only Live Once’, it was stated that it was "a matter of sadness" to the plaintiff, Kevin McClory," that Jack was not there to defend himself against the wanton libel". The publishers and the author of the book, it stated, have withdrawn these allegations without reservation; agreed to apologise and to pay substantial damages to Kevin, which, it was added, "would remove the unwarranted blemish upon the late Jack Whittingham’s name".

"The publishers and the author stated in Court that they recognised these allegations should never have been made and apologised to Kevin and to the widow of the late Jack Whittingham".

1975 - 1985

Jack Whittingham’s widow and family remained unaware of this case, (and indeed, the book), as they had not been notified about the proceedings by Kevin McClory or told of the apology that had been directed to them, nor was any offer made to his widow for a share of the damages awarded.

In law, no right of redress survives for relatives of a deceased person who has been libelled, so that although the book seriously libelled Jack with a number of entirely false allegations, there were no means of redress for his widow. Nonetheless, the apology in Court was made for the "distress suffered by Jack’s widow" and it was felt that Kevin should surely have paid a share of the damages he received to her, for the unjust and ill-founded attack on Jack.

1983

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN is released by Kevin McClory. This film was based on the original screenplay of Thunderball written by Jack Whittingham. No credit for this fact was given to Jack by Kevin, only a shared ‘Story’ credit. Jack’s widow & family were not notified that this film was to be made nor invited to Premier.

2004

Sylvan Mason is currently collaborating with author Robert Sellars who is preparing a book on the history of Thunderball, to be published in 2005, to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1st screening of the film"

Grateful acknowledgements for their help to the following people:
Aimi Whittingham Mason.  Jeremy Vaughan.  John Cork – Ian Fleming Foundation

 

All photographs in this document, unless otherwise credited,
are the copyright of Sylvan Mason Photographs

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Sylvan Mason 2002