FELDMAN, CHARLES K.
(April 26, 1904–May 25, 1968; birth name: Charles Gould): Brilliant American producer and former talent agent who purchased the feature film rights to Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale from actor/director Gregory Ratoff for $75,000, and brought it to the big screen in 1967 as a $9 million spoof for Columbia Pictures. His co-producer on the project was Jerry Bresler.
A New York City native, Feldman was one of the most successful talent agents of his era. He made his motion picture producing debut on The Lady Is Willing (1942), a romantic comedy that starred Marlene Dietrich and Fred MacMurray. Prior to Casino Royale, his other feature producing credits included: Red River (1948), uncredited; The Glass Menagerie (1950); A Streetcar Named Desire (1951); The Seven Year Itch (1955); Walk on the Wild Side (1962); What’s New Pussycat (1965); and The Group (1966), uncredited.
It was not Feldman’s initial intention to make a spoof of Bond’s world. However, when he failed to make a deal with established 007 producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman or to lure Sean Connery away from their stable, he realized that a serious Bond was not in the cards. Given that he knew virtually everyone in Hollywood, he assembled an astonishing number of writers, directors, and stars to create the big, lumbering lummox of a spoof that Casino Royale became. An oddity in the 007 canon, it nonetheless featured Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and Orson Welles in the same film—certainly an accomplishment.