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Reflection on my life

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The eccentric Danny Melnick
Ken Adam Artist
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Melnick was a strange man, he had a... he had a complex that his office had to be changed every two months and the carpet renewed and the furniture renewed; this is all on the Fox lot, right? And, I remember he had an English secretary, who was lovely, and she always warned me, she said, ‘If you go into the office be careful you don't touch the desk or do anything’. And, I mean, if you tried to touch the desk or anything he said, ‘Don't sit on that chair’, and so on. And one day I come in and... and Elizabeth, who says, ‘Don't... you can't go in your... into your offices’, I said, ‘What's happened?’ ‘He said he's re-carpeting it.’ I said, ‘But the carpet was as... brand new’. ‘Yeah, but he wanted the shade of grey to be a little darker.’ Well, you know. And, every time I went into a meeting with him he said don't do this and don't do that and don't touch this, and anyway.

So, I knew, you know... I didn't know this would eventually blow up, but it did. And Marvin Davis and... who was the Head of Fox, had a terrible row with Danny Melnick and this great scheme was... Special Project never was born, unfortunately. I'd worked on it for over a year and I had the order to roll out there too. And Danny Melnick was such a snob, he said – because normally you can't drive your cars into the studio lot – he said, ‘You're allowed to take the Roller and park it in front of my bungalow, it gives us some class, you know’. But it was very sad because I had some very good assistants with me and, you know, old Hollywood producers who were too old for running a film studio and so on, but they were working with me. And it just wasn't made, and all this because Danny Melnick – poor Danny is dead now – but he had this mania about renewing his bungalow every two weeks and Marvin, I can't blame Marvin Davis, you know, for saying, you know, finish that, you know.

Sir Kenneth Adam (1921-2016), OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam, was a production designer famous for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. Initially, he trained as an architect in London, but in October 1943, he became one of only two German-born fighter pilots to fly with the RAF in wartime. He joined 609 Squadron where he flew the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber. After the war, he entered the film industry, initially as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman. His portfolio of work includes Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George; he won an Oscar for both films. Having a close relationship with Stanley Kubrick, he also designed the set for the iconic war room in Dr Strangelove. Sir Ken Adam was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: 20th Century Fox, Daniel Melnick, Marvin Davis

Duration: 2 minutes, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 18 November 2011