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Kenneth Graham "Ken" Hughes (19 January 1922 – 28 April 2001[1]) was a British film director, writer and producer, who is best known as the co-writer and director of the 1968 children's film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Ken Hughes
Born Kenneth Graham Hughes
(1922-01-19)19 January 1922
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
Died 28 April 2001(2001-04-28) (aged 79)
Los Angeles, California, United States



Hughes was born in Liverpool. His family moved to London soon after. Hughes won an amateur film contest at age 14 and worked as a projectionist. When he was sixteen he went to work for the BBC as a technician and became a sound engineer.

In 1941 he began making documentaries and short features.[2] When he was in the army, he made training films.

After leaving the army, Hughes returned to the BBC where he made documentaries. He moved to short features and TV features such as AKA: Scotland Yard.


Hughes first film as director was the "B" movie Wide Boy (1952). He did a short feature, The Drayton Case (1953) which became the first of the Scotland Yard series (1953-61). It was followed by The Missing Man (1953), The Candlelight Murder (1953), The Dark Stairway (1953), The Blazing Caravan (1954), The Strange Case of Blondie (1954).

He did Black 13 (1954) then made The House Across the Lake (1954) for Hammer Films, based on Hughes' own novel. He did a short Passenger to Tokyo (1955), Night Plane to Amsterdam (1955).

He made a series of movies for Merton Park Studios: The Brain Machine (1955), Little Red Monkey (1955), and Confession (1955). Timeslip (1955) was science fiction. He was one of several writers on The Flying Eye (1955) and Portrait of Alison (1955).

Hughes received acclaim for Joe MacBeth (1955) a re-telling of MacBeth set among American gangsters (shot in England with American leads.) Murder Anonymous (1955) was a short feature.

Columbia PicturesEdit

He made some films for Columbia: Wicked as They Come (1956), The Long Haul (1957). He wrote High Flight (1957) made by Warwick Films, producers Albert Broccoli and Irving Allen, who released through Columbia.

He shared a writing Emmy in 1958 for the television play “Eddie,” filmed for Alcoa Theatre starring Mickey Rooney and directed by Jack Smight.[3]

For British TV he wrote and directed the TV play Sammy (1958) and wrote episodes of Solo for Canary (1958).

For Warwick Films, he directed two films with Anthony Newley, Jazz Boat (1960) and In the Nick (1960). Warwick liked his work and used Hughes to direct The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) with Peter Finch, critically acclaimed but it under-performed at the box office.

Career PeakEdit

Hughes was reunited with Newley on The Small World of Sammy Lee (1963), based on Hughes' TV play Sammy. He directed episodes of the TV series Espionage (1964).

He replaced Bryan Forbes, who in turn had replaced Henry Hathaway on Of Human Bondage (1964). It was financed by Seven Arts who used Hughes on the Tony Curtis comedy Drop Dead Darling (1965). Hughes wrote episodes for the TV series An Enemy of the State (1965).

Hughes was one of several directors on Casino Royale (1967).

He co-wrote and directed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) for producer Broccoli. Irving Allen produced Cromwell (1970), a dream project of Hughes'.

Final FilmsEdit

Hughes directed The Internecine Project (1974) one of the last movies from British Lion Films. He wrote and directed Alfie Darling (1975), the flop sequel to Alfie, and wrote episodes of Oil Strike North (1975)

Hughes faced financial difficulties in the late 1970s. He returned to the USA and directed Mae West in Sextette (1978).

His final film was the slasher movie Night School (1981), the film debut of Rachel Ward.

Personal historyEdit

Hughes married twice. From 1946-1957 he was married to Charlotte Epstein. From 1970 to 1976 he was married to Cherry Price, with whom he had a daughter Melinda, an opera singer. The marriage was dissolved in 1976 and Hughes remarried his first wife in 1982.[4] They were still married when Hughes died from complications from Alzheimer's Disease. He was living in a nursing home in Panorama City.[5]



As writer onlyEdit


External linksEdit