Past Forgetting   by Peter Lee once again starred as Dracula. No tragic [5] During one Christmas in his youth, Cushing saw a stage production of Peter Pan, which served as an early source of inspiration and interest in acting. [10] However, Cushing was very proud of his experiences with the Hammer films, and never resented becoming known as a horror actor. little words: no hope. Cushing was about twenty years older than Baron Frankenstein as he appeared in the original novel, but that did not deter the filmmakers. [96] Cushing also appeared in non-Amicus horror films like Island of Terror (1966) and The Blood Beast Terror (1968), in both of which he investigates a series of mysterious deaths. [79], Although best known for his Hammer performances from the 1950s to the 1970s, Cushing worked in a variety of other roles during this time, and actively sought roles outside the horror genre to diversify his work. Fisher agreed, and the scene was used in the film. By the end of the decade, his lead roles in numerous Hammer Horror films had made him internationally famous, and he is still best remembered for his numerous portrayals of Baron Frankenstein and Dr. Van Helsing. This led Lucas to write the character of Grand Moff Tarkin: a high-ranking Imperial governor and commander of the planet-destroying battlestation, the Death Star. and sadness. [13][18] While he was in Southampton he met an 18 year old fellow actor Doreen Lawrence and they were engaged to be married. When this hindered the post-synching process, Olivier leaned in close to Cushing's face and said, "Now drown me. "Peter Cushing: The First Gentleman of Horror". [10] Cushing saw a promotional poster for The Mummy that showed Lee's character with a large hole in his chest, allowing a beam of light to pass through his body. [20], Only a few days after filming on The Man in the Iron Mask was completed, Cushing was in the Schwab's Drug Store, a famous Sunset Boulevard hangout spot for actors, when he learned producer Hal Roach was seeking an English actor for a comedy film starring Laurel and Hardy. They immediately accepted, and among the works Cushing recorded was The Return of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of thirteen one-hour stories. PETER CUSHING O.B.E. The production proved to be controversial, resulting in death threats for director Rudolph Cartier and causing Cushing to be vilified for appearing in such "filth. [52], The Curse of Frankenstein was an overnight success, bringing both Cushing and Lee worldwide fame. [77] Cushing and director Peter Graham Scott did not get along well during filming and at one point, when the two were having a disagreement on set, Cushing turned to cameraman Len Harris and said, "Take no notice Len. [63] Cushing appeared in Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), a Hammer modernisation of the Dracula story set in the then-present day. [80] Around the same time, he appeared in the film Alexander the Great (1956) as the Athenian General Memnon of Rhodes. Cushing died in 1994 of prostate cancer. [21] Cushing became very ill with dysentery during filming and lost a considerable amount of weight as a result. [21] It was filmed on location in County Wicklow in the Republic of Ireland. Very few. for the worse in early January 1971. However, when producer Anthony Hinds proposed removing the character's deerstalker, Cushing insisted they remain because audiences associated Holmes with his headgear and pipes. [10] Director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp both said the portrayal of Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow was intended to resemble that of Cushing's old horror film performances. He never fully recovered after his wife Helen's death in 1971 and following a lengthy battle with prostate cancer he died on August 11th, 1994. [33] Cushing designed custom hand-scarves in honour of the Hamlet film, and as it was being exhibited across England, the scarves were eventually accepted as gifts by the Queen and her daughter Princess Elizabeth. [92] Cushing himself was not a particular fan of horror or science fiction films, but he tended to choose roles not based on whether he enjoyed them, but whether he felt his audience would enjoy him in them. [81], He appeared in the biographical epic film John Paul Jones (1959), in which Robert Stack played the title role of the American naval fighter in the American Revolutionary War. [13] He spent the next three years in an apprenticeship at Southampton Rep.,[10] auditioning for character roles both there and in other surrounding theatres, eventually amassing almost 100 individual parts. Cushing next appeared for Hammer when he played the Sheriff of Nottingham in the adventure film Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960), which starred Richard Greene as the outlaw Robin Hood. There is the familiar saying of ‘true love never dies’. Olivier then invited both Peter and Helen Cushing to join his repertory company, the Old Vic, in an extensive tour of Australia. Instead, seizing upon Cushing's interest in art and drawing, he got his son a job as a surveyor's assistant in the drawing department of the Coulsdon and Purley Urban District Council's surveyor's office during the summer of 1933. [13][15] Cushing continued to persistently pursue a scholarship, writing exactly twenty-one letters to the school,[15] until actor and theatre manager Bill Fraser finally agreed to meet Cushing in 1935 simply so he could ask him in person to stop writing. Cushing's estate owners were heavily involved with the creation which took place more than twenty years after Cushing died. [55] In Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Cushing portrayed Frankenstein as having gone completely mad, in a fitting coda to the earlier films. 1913 -1994. Cushing continued acting into his later years, and wrote two autobiographies. [49], Cushing so valued preparation for his role that he insisted on being trained by a surgeon to learn how to wield a scalpel authentically. Christopher Neame, who also starred in the film, said he was particularly impressed with Cushing's agility and fitness, considering his age. There is a photo in Peter’s biography showing a smiling Helen and During this period, he lived with Joyce Broughton and her family at their homes in Hartley, Kent. It is a medical fact that if you exercise, [5] Although raised during wartime, Cushing was too young to understand or become greatly affected by it, and was shielded from the horrors of war by his mother, who encouraged him to play games under the kitchen table whenever the threat of possible bombings arose. [73], In May 1982, Cushing was diagnosed with prostate cancer. [10] In an interview published in ABC Film Review in November 1964, Cushing stated, "People look at me as if I were some sort of monster, but I can't think why. [51] Many felt Cushing's performance helped create the archetypal mad scientist character. walked with a slight limp, using an ash walking-stick, the ferrule now a mere [39] Cushing, who enjoyed the tale as a child,[10] had his agent John Redway inform the company of Cushing's interest in playing the protagonist, Baron Victor Frankenstein. [83] The film was called Mania in its American release. Peter Wilton Cushing was born in Kenley, a district in the English county of Surrey, on 26 May 1913 to George Edward Cushing (1881–1956) and Nellie Marie (née King) Cushing (1882–1961); he was the younger of two boys – his brother George was three years older. [151] [11], Cushing wanted to enter the acting profession after school, but his father opposed the idea, despite the theatrical background of several of his family members. PETER CUSHING was one of … useless. [10], Cushing joined the cast in May 1976, and his scenes were filmed at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood. on me. [18] Although the job meant Cushing received no actual screen time, he was eventually cast in a bit part himself as the king's messenger, which made The Man in the Iron Mask his official film debut. Together they toured the country, but Cushing’s health was awful, with major congestion of the lungs. [59] Dracula was released in 1958, with Cushing once again starring opposite Lee, who played the title character, although Cushing was given top billing. [10] She suggested he write to all the producers listed in the Radio Times magazine seeking work in the medium. ", Thanks to his former teacher Davies, Cushing continued to appear in school productions during this time, as well as amateur plays such as W.S. To join Helen is my only ambition. [10] Cushing felt his first performance was much stronger than the second, but the second production is the only known surviving version. It was Broughton who encouraged Cushing to have the book published. [28], During the Second World War he served with the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). Cushing read Thorndike to prepare for the role, and made suggestions to make-up artist Roy Ashton about Blyss' costume and hairstyle. [73] In later years, Cushing considered his Holmes performance one of the finest accomplishments of his career. Their marriage seemed an idea one, each completely devoted to the other and despite never having children, they seemed a [70] Hammer decided to heighten the source novel's horror elements, which upset the estate of Conan Doyle, but Cushing himself voiced no objection to the creative licence because he felt the character of Holmes himself remained intact. [10] He did not enjoy the repetitive nature of stage performances, and once compared it to a painter being forced to paint the same picture every day. He was married to Helen Cushing for 28 years before she died in 1971. Cushing often appeared alongside actor Christopher Lee, who became one of his closest friends, and occasionally with the American horror star Vincent Price. The only enjoyment he got out of it was drawing prospectives of proposed buildings, which were almost always rejected because they were too imaginative and expensive and lacked strong foundations, which Cushing disregarded as a "mere detail. "Who wants to see me as Hamlet? In the skit, Cushing portrayed King Arthur, while the other two gave comedic portrayals of characters like Merlin and the knights of the Round Table. Peter Wilton Cushing was born on May 26, 1913 in Kenley, Surrey, England, to Nellie Maria (King) and George Edward Cushing, a quantity surveyor. Cushing wrote to the couple and suggested they stage The Heiress, a play by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, with Cushing himself in the lead role. Helen accompanied Peter to film locations Peter Wilton Cushing, actor: born Kenley, Surrey 26 May 1913; OBE 1989; married 1943 Helen Beck (died 1971); died Canterbury 11 August 1994. [20] Cushing was hired as a stand-in for scenes that featured both characters played by Louis Hayward, who had the dual lead roles of King Louis XIV and Philippe of Gascony. [45] After his wife's death Cushing visited several churches and spoke to religious ministers, but was dissatisfied by their reluctance to discuss death and the afterlife, and never joined an organized religion. [75] The Hound of the Baskervilles was originally conceived as the first in a series of Sherlock Holmes films, but eventually no sequels were made. Time is interminable, the loneliness is almost unbearable and the only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that my dear Helen and I will be reunited again some day. He also loved games and practical jokes,[15] and enjoyed drawing and painting watercolours, the latter of which he did especially often in his later years. [68] However, Cushing was able to star in Twins of Evil (also 1971), a prequel of sorts to The Vampire Lovers, as Gustav Weil, the leader of a group of religious puritans trying to stamp out witchcraft and satanism. [4][42], In an interview included on the DVD release of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), Lee said of his friend's death: .mw-parser-output .templatequote{overflow:hidden;margin:1em 0;padding:0 40px}.mw-parser-output .templatequote .templatequotecite{line-height:1.5em;text-align:left;padding-left:1.6em;margin-top:0}, I don't want to sound gloomy, but at some point of your lives, every one of you will notice that you have in your life one person, one friend whom you love and care for very much. Right here at FameChain. He left his first job as a surveyor's assistant to take up a scholarship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Actually, I'm a gentle fellow. [111], Film director George Lucas approached Cushing with the hopes of casting the actor in his upcoming space fantasy film, Star Wars. I knew I would love him for the rest of my days-and beyond. There was no reference to such an injury in the film script, and when he asked the publicity department why it was on the poster, they said it was simply meant to serve as a shocking image to promote the movie. Cushing starred as Parson Blyss, the local reverend of an 18th-century English coastal town believed to be hiding his smuggling activities with reports of ghosts. been wiped away.”. Payne, Graham (June 1958). Peter said he noticed her face held a completely To their surprise, however, Cushing recovered well enough to be released from the hospital,[141] and although his health continued to gradually decline, Cushing lived another twelve years without any operative treatment or chemotherapy. [27][35] Nevertheless, a second televised production was filmed and aired, and Cushing eventually drew both critical praise and acting awards, further cementing his reputation as one of Britain's biggest television stars. He was eventually noticed by a Broadway theatre talent scout,[25] and in 1941 he made his Broadway debut in the religious wartime drama The Seventh Trumpet. There was an aura about this “ beloved [58] Cushing said one of the biggest challenges during filming was not missing whenever he struck a prop stake with a mallet and drove it into a vampire's heart. [82] Cushing played Robert Knox in The Flesh and the Fiends (1960), based on the true story of the doctor who purchased human corpses for research from the serial killer duo Burke and Hare. passion, caring, and the need to be hand in hand by a beloved’s side. [15] After Hamlet, both Peter and Helen Cushing accepted a personal invitation from Olivier to join Old Vic, Olivier's repertory theatre company, which embarked on a year-long tour of Australasia. Cushing said he would have preferred to play Kenobi rather than Tarkin, but could not have done so because he was to be filming other movie roles when Star Wars was shooting, and Tarkin's scenes took less time to film than those of the larger Kenobi role. [60] During filming, Cushing himself suggested the staging for the final confrontation scene, in which Van Helsing leaps onto a large dining room table, opens window curtains to weaken Dracula with sunlight, then uses two candlesticks as a makeshift crucifix to drive the vampire into the sunlight. [21][53] The two men continued to work together in many films for Hammer, and their names became synonymous with the company. vagabond”. [40] Among the plays he appeared in during this time were Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version, Gordon Daviot's Richard of Bordeaux, and the production of Nigel Kneale's The Creature (1955),[35] the latter of which Cushing starred in film adaptation released in 1957. Find Helen Cushing's memorial at Legacy.com. His mother had so hoped for a daughter that for the first few years of his life, she dressed Peter in girls' frocks, let his hair grow in long curls and tie them in bows of pink ribbon, so others often mistook him for a girl. Around this time he learned that Helen Ryan, an actress who impressed him in a televised play about King Edward VII, was planning to run the Horseshoe Theatre in Basingstoke with her husband, Guy Slater. this doctor had told her, my initial response was a mixed feeling of disbelief In the opening scene, Cushing portrays the nineteenth century Van Helsing as he did in the previous films, and the character is killed after battling Dracula. Although Peter Cushing was born in 1913 he always preferred to see the date of his birth as 1942–the year he met the woman who became his wife, Violet Helen Beck. [18] Cushing found a modest success in a 1945 production of Sheridan's The Rivals at Westminster's Criterion Theatre, which earned him enough money to pay off some growing debts. [18] The tour, which lasted until February 1949, took them to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Tasmania, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and included performances of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The School for Scandal, Shakespeare's Richard III, Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, Jean Anouilh's Antigone and Anton Chekhov's The Proposal. [21] Cushing wrote the books as what he called "a form of therapy to stop me going stark, raving mad" following the loss of his wife. The set provided technical difficulties, and all of Cushing's lines had to be post-synched. [13] Cushing often learned and practised his lines in an attic at work, under the guise that he was putting ordnance survey maps into order. "Horror-film actor Peter Cushing dies at 81, Played variety of roles – From Sherlock Holmes to Baron Frankenstein" (12 August 1994). [10] Cinematic roles proved somewhat difficult to find, however, as film producers were often resentful of television stars for drawing audiences away from the cinema. He earned particular acclaim for his lead performance in a BBC Television adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954). [33] A huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, Cushing was highly anxious to play the character,[69] and reread the novels in anticipation of the role. ", "How a Holby City actor brought one of Star Wars' most iconic characters back to life", "See the Stunning Detail That Went into Recreating Two Star Wars Characters For Rogue One", "What Peter Cushing's Digital Resurrection Means for the Industry", "CUSHING, PETER (1913–1994) The Bois Saga", "Peter Cushing, actor, Dies at 81; Known for Playing Frankenstein", "Peter Cushing's Obituary – The Vegetarian (Autumn 1994)", The Peter Cushing Appreciation Society UK, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Peter_Cushing&oldid=1016748566, Alumni of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Best Actor BAFTA Award (television) winners, Officers of the Order of the British Empire, People associated with the Vegetarian Society, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles lacking reliable references from July 2020, Internet Broadway Database person ID same as Wikidata, Turner Classic Movies person ID same as Wikidata, Wikipedia articles with BIBSYS identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This film was "riffed" on 14 April 2017 as part of the Season One (episode 14) release of, Season 1, episode 20: "The Escape of Rudolf Hess", Season 2, episode 7: "Drama '62: Peace with Terror", Season 1, episode 4: "La Grande Breteche", Season 1, episode 5: "The Counterfeit Trap", Long running gag involving being owed payment, This page was last edited on 8 April 2021, at 21:03. MacDonald, Andrew and MacDonald, Gina (2003). [78] Among his final Hammer roles was Fear in the Night (1972), where he played a one-armed school headmaster apparently terrorising the protagonist, played by Judy Geeson. [42][66] He appeared in the horror film The Abominable Snowman (1957), a Hammer adaptation of a BBC Nigel Kneale television play The Creature (1955) which Cushing had also starred in. Lawrence broke off the engagement citing his frequent crying and bringing his parents on dates. [107] His performance in Tales from the Crypt won him the Best Male Actor award at the 1971 French Convention of Fantasy Cinema in France. It received poor reviews, however, and ran for only eleven days. [68], Around the same time, he portrayed the famous detective Sherlock Holmes in the Hammer production of The Hound of the Baskervilles (also 1959), an adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel of the same name. Instead, Cushing asked to play Arthur Grymsdyke,[105] a kind, working-class widower who gets along well with the local children, but falls subject to a smear campaign by his snobbish neighbours. [24] Despite the promise, however, Cushing grew homesick and decided he wished to return to England. Cushing reprised the role of Baron Victor Frankenstein in five sequels. [108] Another was The Ghoul, where he played a former priest hiding his cannibalistic son in an attic. Ryan and Slater agreed, and Cushing later said performing the part was his most pleasant experience since his wife had died four years earlier. Allon, Yoram; Cullen, Del; and Patterson, Hannah (2002). remember reading a while back in an interview Peter did saying Helen was eyes: on his head an old gray velvet hat, with a hole between the dents of At the encouragement of his wife, Cushing also entered the burgeoning world of television and became a … The film gave Cushing the highest amount of visibility of his entire career, and helped inspire younger audiences to watch his older films. kit-bag, such as sailors use. [92] Although the series proved popular, Cushing felt he could not give his best performance under the hectic schedule, and he was not pleased with the final result. Published in 1994, it was originally written specifically for the daughter of Cushing's long-time secretary and friend Joyce Broughton, to help her overcome reading problems resulting from her dyslexia. Cushing appeared in several films released in 1961, including Fury at Smugglers' Bay, an adventure film about pirates scavenging ships off the English coastline;[84] The Hellfire Club, where he played a lawyer helping a young man expose a cult;[85] and The Naked Edge, a British-American thriller about a woman who suspects her husband framed another man for murder. His is most identified with the horror films of Hammer Pictures, often sharing the screen with Christopher Lee. [19], Soon, he felt the urge to pursue a film career in the United States. All of us who are fans of Peter know how His mother was the daughter of a carpet merchant and considered of a lower class than her husband. Andre Morrel is solid as the faithful Dr. Watson, while avoiding the buffoonish behavior unfortunately associated with the role. [64] Cushing and Lee both reprised their respective roles in the sequel The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974), which was known in the United States as Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride. [121], When Star Wars was first released in 1977, most preliminary advertisements touted Cushing's Tarkin as the primary antagonist of the film, not Vader;[122] Cushing was extremely pleased with the final film, and he claimed his only disappointment was that Tarkin was killed and could not appear in the subsequent sequels.

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