Thunderball is the ninth James Bond adventure from Ian Fleming, published in 1961 just as Bond mania was about to break out on a global scale. The tale of James Bond’s to stop the theft of nuclear weapons began life as a screenplay co-written by Fleming and four other writers: Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, Ivar Bryce, and Ernest Cuneo. The idea was to produce Bond film independently, as no major studio or production company had yet caught on to the lucrative potential Fleming’s series of novels represented.
The novel was based on the screenplay, thus making it an novelization of an existing script, which is quite unusual for an established author of Fleming’s rank. Having read an advance copy of the book, Kevin McClory filed an injunction to keep it from being published on claims that it violated his share of the copyright claim on the screenplay. A very ill Fleming was advised to settle out of court with McClory with the ruling eventually giving him full rights to his novelization on condition of official recognition that Thunderball was “based on a screen treatment by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and the Author.”
Sean Connery assumed the role of Bond in a film adaptation of Thunderball in 1965 in a deal with McClory that prevented him from making any other film version of the story for the next decade. In 1983, Sean Connery return to the role of the secret agent for the first time since 1971 in a remake retitled Never Say Never Again.