Ken Adam

Active - 1947 - 2001  |   Born - Feb 5, 1921   |   Died - Mar 10, 2016   |   Genres - Drama, Action, Spy Film, Comedy, Mystery

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Berlin-born Ken Adam arrived in England at the age of 12, where he studied architecture and served in the RAF during WWII. In 1947, Adam entered the British film industry, functioning as assistant art director on such period pictures as Captain Horatio Hornblower (1950) and Helen of Troy (1956). He was a full art director for the European-filmed sequences of Mike Todd's Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and continued working in this vein until becoming a production designer in 1960. Two years later, he was engaged to work on the first James Bond film, Dr. No (1962), succeeding in giving a multimillion-dollar veneer to what was a very economical production. Adam remained with the Bond series until the 1970s, his budget (and his creativity) expanding with each successive feature. Possibly his most remarkable achievement during this period was his design for the Fort Knox vaults in Goldfinger (1964): denied access to the Fort's actual interior, Adam had to conjure up the contours of the vault from his own imagination -- and the results were so convincing that many impressionable moviegoers believed that the picture had been shot on location. In 1975, Adam won an Academy Award for his sweeping re-creation of 18th century England in Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, and in 1981 he was given "visual consultant" credit for designing a vast Edward Hopper-style cityscape in Herbert Ross' Pennies From Heaven (1991). Among Ken Adams' other most notable achievements has been his brilliant literalization of the creepy cartoon world of Charles Addams in 1993's Addams Family Values. Ken Adam received his second Oscar in 1994 for The Madness of King George. He continued working through the end of the '90s on films like Boys on the Side, In & Out and the Out-of-Towners. Adam died in 2016, at age 95.

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