Kevin O'Donovan McClory (8 June 1926 - 20 November 2006) was an Irish screenwriter, producer, and director. McClory was best known for the 1983 James Bond film Never Say Never Again, which was the result of a long legal battle between McClory and Ian Fleming (later United Artists/MGM) over the writing credits and later the film rights to Thunderball.
McClory was born in Dublin. His grandmother, Alice McClory, was related to the Brontë family. His parents were actors in Ireland. He suffered from dyslexia, and served in the British Merchant Navy in the Second World War. His ship was torpedoed on 21 February 1943, and he spent 14 days in a lifeboat drifting in the North Atlantic before being rescued off the coast of Ireland.
He started his film career as a film technician at Shepperton Studios. He was an assistant to John Huston on films including The African Queen (1951) and Moulin Rouge (1952). He was an Assistant Director on Huston's version of Moby-Dick (1956), and Assistant Producer and Assistant Director on Mike Todd's Around the World in 80 Days (also 1956). He later wrote, produced and directed the 1957 film The Boy and the Bridge, with financial assistance from Ivar Bryce.
Bryce was a close friend of Ian Fleming. In 1958, McClory, Bryce, Fleming and Jack Whittingham collaborated on a number of drafts for a possible film or television series featuring Fleming's secret agent, James Bond. After The Boy and the Bridge crashed at the box office, Fleming grew cooler on the project with McClory. Without permission, Fleming novelised the draft screenplay as his ninth novel, Thunderball in 1961, which initially did not give either McClory or Whittingham credit. The two sued, and the case opened to the High Court in London on 20 November 1963. After 9 days, the case was settled. Fleming paid McClory damages of £35,000 and his court costs of £52,000, and future versions of the novel were credited as "based on a screen treatment by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, and Ian Fleming" - in that order. Due to the lawsuit, Thunderball was pushed back as the first official Bond film in Harry Saltzman's and Albert R. Broccoli's series. Broccoli and Saltzman's production company EON Productions later made a deal with McClory for Thunderball to be made into a film in 1965, consequently allowing McClory sole producing credit for the adaptation. McClory additionally retained the rights to remake the film after ten years had elapsed.
In 1976, McClory announced he was to produce an original James Bond film to be titled either Warhead, Warhead 8, or James Bond of the Secret Service, but the project immediately ran into more legal problems with the Broccoli family and was ultimately abandoned. The project was taken over by American producer Jack Schwartzman who, with the backing of Warner Bros., was able to get Thunderball remade as Never Say Never Again in 1983, with McClory credited as executive producer. The film starred Sean Connery as agent 007 in a highly-publicized return to the role after a 12 year absence.
McClory subsequently continued to try to make other adaptations of Thunderball, including most famously a project called Warhead 2000 A.D. that was to be made by Sony with Timothy Dalton in the lead role. Once again, McClory's hold on the Thunderball film rights came into question and the project was eventually scrapped in 1999 after Sony settled out of court with MGM/UA, ceding any rights to making a James Bond film. Ironically, in 2004 Sony acquired 20% of MGM; however, the production and final say over everything involving the film version of James Bond is controlled by EON Productions, Albert R. Broccoli's production company and its parent company Danjaq, LLC.
Prior to Sony's settlement with MGM in 1999, they filed a lawsuit against MGM claiming McClory was the co-author of the cinematic 007 and was owed fees from Danjaq and MGM for all past films. This lawsuit was thrown out in 2000 on the ground that McClory had waited too long to bring his claims. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later affirmed this decision in 2001.
McClory was married twice. He was survived by two sons and two daughters.