Monday, October 12, 2009

Icons of Horror: Peter Cushing

During an acting career that endured for over fifty years encompassing drama, comedy and genre work, Peter Cushing became best known for his strong portrayals of Baron Frankenstein and Prof. Van Helsing in a popular series of horror films for Hammer Studios. Cushing also assayed the part of the detective Sherlock Holmes in both television and motion pictures productions; and twice took on the enduring role of British sci-fi favorite, Dr. Who. Cushing added another stellar science fiction classic to his oeuvre in 1977, co-starring in the original Star Wars as Grand Moff Tarkin.

His impressive resume of terrors includes The Curse of Frankenstein,The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas,The Horror of Dracula, The Revenge of Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Flesh and the Fiends,The Brides of Dracula, The Evil of Frankenstein, The Gorgon, Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Dr. Who and the Daleks, She, The Skull, Island of Terror, Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD, Frankenstein Created Woman,Torture Garden, Blood Beast Terror, Corruption, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Incense for the Damned, Scream and Scream Again, The Vampire Lovers, The House That Dripped Blood, Twins of Evil, Tales From The Crypt, Dracula AD 1972, Fear In The Night, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Asylum, And Now the Screaming Starts!, From Beyond the Grave, The Creeping Flesh, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Horror Express, Madhouse, The Beast Must Die,Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, Legend of the Werewolf, Space 1999 (TV), The Ghoul, At the Earth's Core, Star Wars, Shock Waves, The Uncanny, House of the Long Shadows and The Masks of Death (his final appearance as a retired Sherlock Holmes called back into action).

Cushing was often cast opposite actor Christopher Lee, with whom he was best friends. Following his wife's death in 1971, Cushing stated that the heart had gone out of of most everything in his life. After Star Wars, he continued appearing in films and television only sporadically as his health allowed, due to an ongoing battle with cancer. In 1989, Cushing was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his contributions to the acting profession.

Always one of my personal favorite horror actors, Peter Cushing died of prostate cancer on August 11, 1994, at the age of 81. Painting [above; middle] by Jim McDermitt.

1 comment:

oeconomist.com said...

Every performance by Cushing that I've ever seen has been first-class, even though the material with which he worked was often far from the best. (I guess that producers knew that they could skimp on other things if they gave audiences Cushing.)