Who Was the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Anne Marble
6 min readJan 26, 2023

Many kids were traumatized by the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. You might be surprised to learn about the actor behind that iconic villain.

A ballet dancer. Adored by the children he worked with in the movie. Movie appearances that included a role in The Red Shoes. A state funeral!

A black-and-white photograph of Robert Helpmann when he was younger. His face his pale, and his eyes are prominent. His expression is moody and haunting. He has short dark hair.
Robert Helpmann (circa 1945). (Source: Wikipedia; Angus McBean — National Library of Australia, Public Domain.)

The Child Catcher: Traumatizing Generations of Kids

I grew up in a time when we had few TV channels. So when I was in elementary school, all kids pretty much watched the same shows and movies on TV. And the next morning, we’d talk about the shows we’d seen.

The morning after the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang played on prime time TV, kids talked about how much the Child Catcher scared them.

He freaked me out, too. I was annoyed because the movie didn’t match the original book — a novel by some guy named Ian Fleming. Yes, the guy who wrote the James Bond novels.

Even I knew better than to tell the other kids, “Well actually, the book was better, and the Child Catcher wasn’t in the book.”

And though he wasn’t in the book, the Child Catcher still freaked me out.

A Quick History of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Movie



Anne Marble

I’m a writer and a copy editor with experience in editing science and engineering articles. Click Lists to find my most popular articles. And hidden gems.