Baroness Bomburst is a supporting antagonist in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and later the stage musical adaptation. The character was created by screenwriter Roald Dahl and did not appear in the original Ian Fleming novel.
In the 1968 film, she is played by Anna Quayle. In the theatrical version in London, she was played by Nichola McAuliffe, Sandra Dickinson and Louise Gold amongst others, and on Broadway, she was played by Jan Maxwell. On the UK National tour she has been played by (amongst others) Louise Plowright, Jane Gurnett, Kim Ismay, Tamsin Carroll, Michelle Collins and Claire Sweeney.
Role in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Baroness and her husband are unnamed. She rules over the land of Vulgaria alongside her husband, the childish tyrant Baron Bomburst, and is notable for her eccentric sense of dress, which is different and increasingly lavish (not to say unusual) in each scene. Her age varies on the version being performed, in the film she is fairly young (31-32 in real life) but most stage musicals portray her as elderly or middle aged . Underneath her ruling, grown-up personality, she is quite childish (e.g.: her fear of children, she faints when she is told that she is ugly) and quite spoiled.
Her most loyal servant is the hideous Child Catcher, because she utterly despises (and almost fears) all children. When the Toymaker explains this to the Potts family and to Truly, Truly enquires "Does she have any children of her own?" To which the Toymaker replies with a sneer, "Oh, no, she'd rather die." The Baroness and her loathing of children have caused children to be outlawed in Vulgaria, which is why the townspeople have to hide all of their children, or else the Child Catcher would take them away and imprison them. One of the running gags in the film is the Baron's numerous (failed) attempts to kill his wife. She herself is oblivious of his hatred of her (or perhaps in denial) and in return adores her husband. There is a scene when the Baron's guards have just captured Chitty, and she gets ejected out of the back seat, the Baron shoots at her, but her dress rises up, showing her bloomers, and she lands in the lake. She is then seen crying in the lake about her diamonds. Her clothes are always big, frilly dresses with diamonds, pearls and petticoats.
In the end during the Baron's birthday party, children gatecrash the party, to the horror of the Baroness. The townspeople ambush the castle, having been encouraged to rebel against the evil rulers, and the Baron and Baroness are thrown into exile. Vulgaria is at last liberated from their reign of terror. In some versions of the stage musical as the two are led away, the Baroness admits to strange cravings, suggesting she might herself have become pregnant.