Ken Hughes

Ken Hughes, who wrote and directed dozens of films, including the classic British children’s movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” died Saturday April 28 at a Panorama City, Calif., nursing home of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 79.

Hughes wrote and directed such fare as 1970’s “Cromwell,” a lavish historical picture starring Richard Harris, 1960’s critically praised “The Trials of Oscar Wilde,” starring Peter Finch, and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” the 1968 fantasy based on Roald Dahl’s popular children’s story about a flying car.

He also directed the 1960s James Bond spoof “Casino Royale,” starring David Niven and Woody Allen, and 1964’s “Of Human Bondage.”

Born in Liverpool, England, Hughes won an amateur film contest at age 14 and began working as a technician for the BBC at age 16.

He began his film career in 1941, making documentaries and short features, and directed his first feature film, “Wide Boy,” in 1952.

He shared a writing Emmy in 1958 for the television play “Eddie,” starring Mickey Rooney.

Hughes made his first American film, “Sextette,” in 1978. It was to be screen legend Mae West’s last film.

He is survived by wife Charlotte and a daughter.

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