James Bond set designer Ken Adam dies aged 95

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Academy Award-winning set designer Ken Adam, who created iconic backdrops for seven films in the James Bond franchise and Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove, has died at the age of 95.

Sir Ken Adam passes away
Sir Ken Adam designed the car for the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Image courtesy of Warfield Productions

Adam passed away on 10 March 2016 at his home in London after a short time in hospital.

Throughout his career, which lasted way into his 70s, he worked on more than 70 films and designed the car for children's classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Sir Ken Adam passes away
The set Adam designed for You Only Live Twice, 1967, was built from scratch at Pinewood studios by 250 workers

Adams won two Oscars: one in 1976 for his work on director Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon and a second in 1995 for The Madness of King George, which starred Helen Mirren and Rupert Everett.

He was also Oscar-nominated for his work on The Spy Who Loved Me, Addams Family Values and his first film – Around the World in 80 Days.

Sir Ken Adam passes away
Adam won his second Oscar for The Madness of King George, 1994

His most famous sets include the villain's headquarters in the 1962 James Bond film Dr No, and the triangular Pentagon War Room in Dr Strangelove – described by director Steven Spielberg as "the greatest in the history of movies".

His volcano set for You Only Live Twice was built from scratch at Pinewood studios by 250 workers, and was equipped with a full-sized rocket, helicopter landing pad and monorail.



Adam described the set as both a "dream and a nightmare in movie-making," and vowed that if he ever had to build another sound stage from scratch it would be a permanent structure.

His death was confirmed his biographer Christopher Frayling, who described Adam as "remarkable" to the BBC.

Sir Ken Adam passes away
Salon Kitty, 1976, was directed by Tinto Brass. Image courtesy of Coralta Cinematografica

"As a person he was remarkable," he said. "Roger Moore once said about him that his life was a great deal more interesting than most of the films that he designed."

"He was a brilliant visualiser of worlds we will never be able to visit ourselves – the War Room under the Pentagon in Dr Strangelove, the interior of Fort Knox in Goldfinger – all sorts of interiors which, as members of the public, we are never going to get to see, but he created an image of them that was more real than real itself," he continued.

Moore, who played James Bond from 1973 to 1985, penned a short tribute to Adam on Twitter – calling him a "friend and a visionary who defined the look of the James Bond films".

Sir Ken Adam passes away
Adam won his first Oscar in 1976 for his work on Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. Image courtesy of Warner Bros

Ken Adam was born Klaus Adam in 1921 in Berlin to a Jewish family who ran a sports store. They fled the Nazi regime to England when he was in his teens.

In London he attended St Paul's School before going on to study architecture at University College London and the Bartlett, as a way of breaking into production design.

He later served in the RAF, and after the war worked on Michael Anderson's Around the World in 80 Days. While working on the movie, he came to the attention of producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli – who went on to hire him for The Trials of Oscar Wilde and his first Bond film in 1962: Dr No.

Sir Ken Adam passes away
Adam designed the War Room under the Pentagon in Dr Strangelove, 1964

In 2003, Ken Adam became the first film production designer to be knighted for his services to the film industry, as well as Anglo-German relations. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Medal at 2015's British Land Celebration of Design awards.

  • Kayleigh

    Too many greats have passed so far this year :(

  • James Ostmann

    Losing so many great talents. Let’s be grateful for them.