ePub Bois Saga ePub

by Peter Cushing

Born Peter Winton Cushing was an English actor, known for his many appearances in Hammer Films, in which he played the distinguished-looking but sinister scientist Baron Frankenstein and the vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing, amongst many other roles, often appearing opposite Christopher Lee, and occasionally Vincent Price. A familiar face on both sides of the Atlantic, his most famous roles outside of "Hammer Horror" include his many appearances as Sherlock Holmes, as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars (1977) and as the mysterious Doctor in Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. in 1965 and 1966, two cinema films based on the television series Doctor Who.

Cushing's first appearances in his two most famous roles were in Terence Fisher's films The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). Cushing is closely associated with playing Baron Victor Frankenstein and Van Helsing in a long string of horror films produced by Hammer Film Productions. He later said that career decisions for him meant choosing roles where he knew the audience would accept him. "Who wants to see me as Hamlet? Very few. But millions want to see me as Frankenstein so that's the one I do."

Cushing was often cast opposite the actor Christopher Lee, who became his best friend. "People look at me as if I were some sort of monster, but I can't think why. In my macabre pictures, I have either been a monster-maker or a monster-destroyer, but never a monster. Actually, I'm a gentle fellow. Never harmed a fly. I love animals, and when I'm in the country I'm a keen bird-watcher", he said in an interview published in ABC Film Review in November 1964.

In the mid-1960s, Cushing played the Doctor in two films (Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.) based on the television series Doctor Who. He decided to play the part as a lovable and avuncular figure to escape from his image as a "horror" actor. "I do get terribly tired with the neighbourhood kids telling me 'My mum says she wouldn't want to meet you in a dark alley'." he said in an interview in 1966.[this quote needs a citation] He appeared in The Avengers and its successor, The New Avengers. In 1986, he played the role of Colonel William Raymond in Biggles. In Space: 1999, he appeared as a Prospero-like character called Raan.

Cushing was one of many stars to guest on the Morecambe and Wise Show — the standing joke in his case being the idea that he was never paid for his appearance. He would appear, week after week, wearily asking hosts Eric and Ernie, "Have you got my five pounds yet?" When Cushing was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1989, one of the guests was Ernie Wise (Morecambe had died in 1984), who promptly presented him with a five pound note, but then, with typical dexterity, extorted it back from him. Cushing was absolutely delighted with this and cried "All these years and I still haven't got my fiver!"

Cushing played Sherlock Holmes many times, starting with Hammer's The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), the first Holmes film made in colour. Cushing seemed a natural for the part and he played the part with great fidelity to the written character — that of a man who is not always easy to live with or be around — which had not been done up to that point. He followed this up with a performance in 16 episodes of the BBC series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (1968), of which only six episodes remain. Finally, Cushing played the detective in old age, in The Masks of Death (1984) for Channel 4.

After Star Wars, Cushing continued appearing in films and television sporadically, as his health allowed. In 1982, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but managed to survive for the remaining 12 years up to his death without surgery, though his health was precarious.

Cushing appeared in a comedy play written by Ernie Wise in The Morecambe and Wise Show on BBC2 in 1969. Throughout the BBC era of the shows he would appear often with More

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