Obituaries of note: Bryan Forbes, film director, and Dean Jeffries, auto customizer

Casey Rodgers/AP - Dean Jeffries at the Craftsman Experience in Los Angeles at Petersen Automotive Museum in 2011. The celebrated car customizer died at 80.

Bryan Forbes

film director

(Geoff Caddick/EPA) - British director Bryan Forbes in London in June 2005. Forbes died at the age of 86.

Bryan Forbes, 86, a British film director whose work includes the 1975 horror classic “The Stepford Wives,” died at his home in Surrey, England. A family spokesman confirmed the death but provided no other details.

Mr. Forbes was born John Theobald Clarke in London and began his film career as an actor. He changed his name to Bryan Forbes to avoid confusion with another actor.

After playing supporting roles in British films, he turned to screenwriting and directing.

He made his debut as director in “Whistle Down the Wind,” the 1961 movie about children who come across an escaped convict and mistake him for Jesus.

He went on to make films such as “King Rat,” a tale of survival in a prisoner-of-war camp, and “The Stepford Wives,” a sinister thriller about abnormally perfect suburban housewives.

He was the screenwriter for “Chaplin,” the 1992 biopic of Charlie Chaplin starring Robert Downey Jr., and also wrote several novels.

Dean Jeffries

auto customizer

Dean Jeffries, 80, a celebrated car customizer who painted James Dean’s Porsche and made the “Monkeemobile” for “The Monkees” TV show in the 1960s, died May 4 at his home in Hollywood.

His son, Kevin Jeffries, confirmed the death to the Los Angeles Times. The cause was not disclosed.

In 1955, Mr. Jeffries custom painted Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder. Dean died in a wreck less than a month later. Mr. Jeffries also painted many Indianapolis 500 cars.

For television, he created the “Black Beauty” for the 1960s show “The Green Hornet” and built the Monkeemobile in just 10 days. He also built movie vehicles, including a moon buggy for the James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever.”

Mr. Jeffries also was a stunt driver and stunt producer on films such as “The Blues Brothers” and “The Fugitive.”

— News services and staff reports