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Roald Dahl (1916-1990), Part II

In 1953, Dahl also married the American actress Patricia Neal (1926-2010) in Trinity Church, a historic Episcopalian parish church in Lower Manhattan. They would have five children: Olivia Twenty Dahl (1955-1962), Chantel Tessa Sophia Dahl (born in 1957), Theo Matthew Dahl (born in 1960), Ophelia Magdalena Dahl (born in 1964), and Lucy Neal Dahl (born in 1965).

Despite his own unhappiness as a boarding student, he would send his own children to boarding school. He wrote them twice a week.

As an adult, Dahl experienced tragedy much as he had as a child. In 1960, a four-month-old Theo suffered brain damage when his carriage was struck by a taxicab. Fortunately, a shunt allowed Theo to heal from hydrocephalus. In 1962, young Olivia died of measles encephalitis.

In 1965, while pregnant with Lucy, a thirty-nine-year-old Patricia Neal suffered three strokes. However, with Dahl’s help she recovered the ability to walk and talk and when she gave birth to Lucy, the baby was healthy.

Dahl adapted some of his short stories into a play that opened on Broadway in 1955, The Honeys. It starred the married couple Hume Cronin (1911-2003) and Jessica Tandy (1909-1994).

Alfred A. Knopf published Kiss Kiss, another collection of Dahl’s short stories, in 1960. Dahl hosted ‘Way Out (1961), a show CBS briefly aired as a companion for The Twilight Zone (1959-1964).

Writer-director George Seaton (1911-1979) adapted Dahl’s short story “Beware of the Dog” as the film 36 Hours (1964). It stars James Garner as an American captured by the Germans in World War II and led to believe he resides in Occupied Germany after the war, experiencing memory problems, which provides an excuse to pump him for information about the upcoming invasion.

Dahl’s second children’s book, James and the Giant Peach, published in the U.S. in 1961 and the U.K. in 1967, began with bedtime stories Dahl told Olivia and Tessa. His third children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was published in the U.S. in 1964 and the U.K. in 1967.

It was the first in a string of bestsellers for Dahl. The Chinese edition was the largest printing run of any book in the history of the publishing industry with 2,000,000 copies.

In 1966, Dahl moved his family into a former inn in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England, where he would live for the last thirty-six years of his life. He called it Gipsy House and did his writing in a hut in the garden.

Gene Wilder starred as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971). Peter Ostrum played Charlie Bucket. Dahl felt the movie concentrated too much on Wonka.

The Willy Wonka Candy Company, which is based in Itasca, Illinois, started in 1971, when the Chicago-based candy company Breaker Confections, then a subsidiary of Quaker Oats, licensed the "Willy Wonka" name so it could be used as a merchandising tie-in for the movie. Quakes Oats provided $3,000,000 to produce the movie, which was filmed in Munich.

In 1980, Breaker Confections changed its name to Willy Wonka Brands. In 1988, Nestlé bought the company’s new parent company, Sunmark.

Twenty-Nine Kisses from Roald Dahl, published in 1969, is a compendium of twenty-nine short stories that previously appeared in Someone Like You and Kiss Kiss. Switch Bitch, published in 1974, is a collection of short stories that appeared in Playboy in 1965. Two of the stories feature Uncle Oswald, the anti-hero of Dahl’s second novel for adults, My Uncle Oswald, published in 1979.

The Magic Finger, published in 1966, was Dahl’s fourth book for children. Alfred A. Knopf published his fifth book for children, Fantastic Mr. Fox, in the U.S. and George Allen & Unwin published it in the U.K., in 1970.

Dahl wrote two scripts that adapted Ian Fleming novels. He wrote You Only Live Twice (1967), the fifth in Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman’s James Bond film series. With Ken Hughes (1921-2001), Dahl wrote Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang (1968), which Broccoli also produced, as a musical adaptation of Fleming’s Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car. Dick Van Dyke played Caractacus Potts.

The last script Dahl wrote was The Road Builder (1971), an adaptation Joy Cowley’s Nest in a Fallen, which Alastair Reid (1939-2011) directed. It was released in the U.S. as The Night Digger. Patricia Neal starred.

Dahl wrote the script as a showcase for his wife, who has not received any job offers after her first post-stroke film, The Subject was Roses (1968), even though she had received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Further, she had won both the Academy Award for Best Actress and BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading role for her earlier performances in Hud (1963).

In 1972, Alfred A. Knopf published Dahl’s sixth children’s book, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. As the title indicates, it is the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. George Allen & Union published it in the U.K. in 1973.

Alfred A. Knopf published Dahl’s seventh children’s book, Danny, The Champion of the World in 1975. It is an elaboration of Dahl’s short story for adults, “Champion of the World.” Jeremy Irons and his son, Samuel, starred in the telefilm Danny: Champion of the World (1989).

The Enormous Crocodile, published in 1978, was Dahl’s eighth children’s book. This was the first of Dahl’s children’s book illustrated by Sir Quentin Saxby Blake, though he would later provide illustrations for the second editions of Dahl’s earlier works.

The monkey Muggle-Wump appears in The Enormous Crocodile, and a family of Muggle-Wump monkeys appear in The Twits, published in 1980.

Published in 1979, Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected was a compilation of his best short stories. [That same year, he began to host the television series of the same name.] It was followed in 1980 by More Tales of the Unexpected.

Dahl’s granddaughter Sophie Holloway (who grew up to the fashion model and authoress Sophie Dahl) inspired the heroine in The BFG, published in 1982. The Big Friendly Giant (BFG) was alluded to in Danny, The Champion of the World, when the eponymous hero recalls his father telling him bedtime stories about the BFG. In reality, Dahl had told these stories to his children.

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