Luton is best known for London's Luton Airport, the Luton Town Football Club, the University of Bedfordshire and the Luton Carnival, which takes place every May. But there are a number of well-known and accomplished people who have a strong connection to Luton, especially in the fields of entertainment, sports and literature. Here are samples of some of them.
1. Arthur Hailey
The journalist, Arthur Hailey, was born in Luton on April 5, 1920, and died on November 24, 2004. From 1939 to 1947, he served in the Royal Air Force and later moved to Canada and then to California. His novels, set in a variety of industrial and commercial settings, are known for dramatic human conflicts and thorough explorations of information.
Hailey was such a good novelist that many of his books became immediate bestsellers. Many of them topped the New York Times bestseller list. In all, his books have been sold in more than 170 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 40 languages. Some of his books have been made into films, including "The Airport" which has become a blockbuster. His novel Hotel has also become a long-running TV series.
When writing the book, Hailey would spend one year researching, six months studying his notes and about 18 months writing. For these reasons, his books had a strong sense of realism that attracted many readers.
2. John Badham
Filmmaker John Badham was born in Luton, August 25, 1939. He grew up in Alabama, United States, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1946. He graduated from Yale University and his top film was the earthquake blockbuster "Saturday Night Fever" introduced the world to John Travolta in 1977.
Badham has numerous credits in both film and television. His most famous films include Saturday Night Fever (1977), Dracula (1979), Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981), Blue Thunder (1983), WarGames (1983), American Flyers (1985), Short Circuit (1986). Stakeout (1987), The Hard Road (1991), Point of No Return (1993), Drop Zone (1994). Nick of Time (1995), Incognito (1997) and The Jack Bull (1999).
3. Phil Read
He was born as Phillip William Read in Luton on January 1, 1939. He distinguished himself as Phil Read, a former Grand Prix road motorcycle rider who bore the impressive moniker "Prince of Speed." He stood out as the first man to win the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc world championships.
Read it for the first time in 1964 when it won the 250cc world title, a feat that gave Yamaha its first world title. Overall, he recorded 50 Grand Prix Tour wins from 1963 to 1976. Seven times he was ranked seven in the world with seven points in either the 125cccc or 250cc class, including 1964, 1965, 1968 (both 125ccm and 250ccm), 1971, 1973 and 1974 He wore the colors of Yamahe in his top five spots in the number one rankings and MV Augusta in 1973 and 1974, respectively.
Read's last race was in 1982 at age 43 when he participated in the Isle of Man TT. In 2002, FIM named it the "Legend" Grand Prix.
4. Colin salmon
Born in Luton in 1952, 6 & 4 "Colin Salmon is best known for his role in three James Bond films, where as Bond he played the fictional character of Charles Robinson opposite Pierce Brosnan.
When Brosnan left the Bond franchise, Salmon emerged as a strong candidate as his replacement as James Bond, even receiving Brosnan's approval as his preferred successor. However, he did not get the part. Salmon would be the first black actor to portray Bond, described by author Ian Fleming as half Scots, half Swiss, white.
In his most recent role, Salmon played David Tyrell on the British television series Sky One Hex. He was also Dr. Rowan Dunlop in series 8 of the ITV TV series Bad Girls. He also appeared in the sixth episode of the BBC Three comedy Little Miss Jocelyn, starring himself.
Salson's most popular films include Match Point (2005) as Ian; Alien Vs. Predator (2004) as Maxwell Stafford; Trial and Retribution VIII (2004) as Colin Thorpe; Keen Eddie (2003-2004) as supt. Nathanial Johnson; Die Another Day (2002) as Charles Robinson; Resident Evil (2002) as One; The World Is Not Enough (1999) as Charles Robinson; Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) as Charles Robinson and Principal Suspect 2 (1992) as Detective Sergeant Robert Oswalde.
Some of Luton's other popular figures include Kevin Blackwell, Danny Cannon, Stu Riddle, Kenneth Williams, Paul Young, Billy Schwer, Ian Dury and many others.