Born on May 26, 1909, Richard Maibaum was born in New York City, New York, USA. Maibaum attended New York University, and later the University of Iowa where he received bachelor's and master's degrees. After graduating, Maibaum would work his way through the ranks of on and off-stage performance. Maibaum would quickly find himself working on the scripting of several successful Broadway productions.
After he returned to New York, he acted with the Shakespearean Repertory Theater in 1933, and wrote two more plays for Broadway, Birthright, an anti-Nazi drama, and Sweet Mystery of Life, a comedy. Next, Maibaum received a contract as a screenwriter for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood. Maibaum continued to work with film while serving in the Army during World War II, and later served as a writer and producer for Paramount from 1945 to 1951. For Paramount, he notably adapted F. Scott Fitzegerald's The Great Gatsby in 1949. Later, in the 1950s, Maibaum moved to England to work for Albert R. Broccoli's Warwick Films. There, he co-scripted The Red Beret, directed by Terence Young, which was followed by Beret and Hell Below Zero. However, Maibaum left the studio, and returned to the United States and wrote for television.
After Broccoli secured the rights to James Bond with Harry Saltzman, Broccoli hired Maibaum and his friend Wolf Mankowitz to write the screenplay for Dr. No partly because of Mankowitz's help in brokering the deal between Broccoli and Saltzman. An initial draft of the screenplay was rejected because the scriptwriters had made the villain, Dr. No, a monkey. Mankowitz left the movie, and Maibaum then undertook a second version, more closely in line with the novel. Johanna Harwood and Berkely Mather then worked on Maibaum's script, with Harwood in particular being described as a script doctor who helped put elements more in tune with a British character. Mankowitz eventually had his name removed from the credits after viewing early rushes, as he feared it would be a disaster.
After the success of Dr. No, Maibaum would contribute to write scripts for the later thirteen James Bond films for 25 years. Although several screenwriters would worked on the Bond films, Maibaum usually wrote his drafts alone. The exception came when he would work directly with Michael G. Wilson in the 1980s. Between the productions of the Bond movies, Maibaum wrote for Jarrett, S+H+E: Security Hazards Expert, and Broccoli and Saltzman's film adaptation of Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. On his last Bond outing, Licence to Kill, the 1988 Writer's Guild Strike occured, limiting Maibaum's participation prompting Wilson to finish on her own.
After production on Bond 17 halted, Maibaum retired. On Jnauary 4, 1991, Maibaum died from a heart attack in Los Angeles, at age 81. He is survived by his wife, Sylvia, two sons, Matthew and Paul, a sister, and a granddaughter.
- On writing the Bond screenplays, Maibaum said, "the real trick of it is to find the villain's caper. Once you've got that, you're off to the races and the rest is fun."