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Cushing, Peter

Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing (né Peter Wilton Cushing) was born on May 26, 1913, in Kenley, Surrey England to George Edward Cushing and Nellie Marie Cushing.  His father was a Quantity Surveyor and his family had quite a few connections with the theater.  His grandfather traveled with Sir Henry Irving on tours of the US and Canada, his aunt worked with actress Gertie Miller and his step-uncle Wilton Herriot was a well-known actor (played a principal in 'Charley's Aunt').   Cushing also had an older brother named David.

In Kenley, Cushing was educated at Shoreham Grammar School and Purley County Secondary School where he enjoyed painting, rugger (rugby), and amateur theatricals.

His first encounter with the stage was at eleven.  He and his brother, David, ran a puppet show for friends and family.  His uncle advised they not charge admission, afraid they would lose their audience.  After the performance, though, Cushing's brother stood at the door with an upturned hat and charged 3 pence to leave the room. Cushing's first job was with the Purley Urban District Council as Surveyor's Assistant, '...little more than a glorified office boy' he said.   It was during this time that he'd won a scholarship to Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

At 21 he applied for a position with the Worthing Repertory Company (from an ad in 'The Stage') He did not receive a reply to his initial application or the fifteen subsequent letters to the manager. One morning he did receive an answer with an invitation to see the manager, Bill Fraser.  Cushing quit his job and left for Worthing.  When he met Mr. Fraser he was told to stop being a nuisance.  Cushing explained tearfully that he could not return as he'd given up his job.  Bill Fraser's sympathies stirred, Cushing went on as a 'debtor' that very night in Priestley's play Cornelius.  Cushing worked at Worthing for several months as the Assistant Stage manager, he says it was the best training he could have had for a dramatic career.  He wasn't paid much but did not live too badly.  He was allowed to eat all the food a local well-known grocery provided for the eating scenes (for credit in the program).  For this reason, Cushing became very fond of Coward and Lonsdale plays for in nearly every one there was 'a pork pie at least'

He then moved to Southampton where he played small parts and later worked with various companies all over England gradually working his way up to juvenile leads. This was not just a small part here and there, as a member of the William Brookfield Players at the Theatre Royal in Rochdale and Harry Hanson's Court Players in Nottingham, he, and other actors would sometimes play up to 45 parts in just as many weeks and up to eighteen hours a day!

He had, like many other British actors, a strong desire to go to 'the Coast' so after nearly 4 years in English repertory, he left for the US with 60 pounds (about $140) in 1938.  He spent his first week in New York City trying to make contacts, then went straight to Hollywood, he found work after only two weeks, in James Whale's film The Man in the Iron Mask Cushing was employed as a double for Louis Hayward (who played the lead both bad and good brother)  He received $75 per week for 4 months.  He got a bit part on the film, he had to gallop up on a horse and call, 'The Captain wishes to see you, sir' 

He landed a role as the second lead in Vigil in the Night with Carol Lombard.  Just after that, the war was declared between England and Germany.  Cushing was declared unfit for military duty but became homesick and wanted to return home, but that proved difficult to find passage on a ship during war-time.  So, he went to NY to work in Broadway plays and traveled to Canada.  While saving for home he worked as a night porter at the YMCA, a parking lot attendant and as an usher in Montreal.

He finally returned home in 1940.  He appeared in Noel Cowards'
Private Lives in 1940 where he met and later married actress Helen Beck.  During World War II he made his contribution to the war effort by joining the Entertainment National Services Association.  

Cushing and Helen bought a seafront home in Whitstable in 1959 after visiting in the 40s and loving the town and its people.  He turned the attic into a studio where he produced watercolors, detailed theatrical set models, scarves and jewelry for his wife. In 1948 his first British film appearance was in Hamlet.  Not too long after this, he started to receive many offers from Hollywood, bringing him back to the US.  He would go on to make a long string of horror films, known as the Hammer films, spanning over 30 years. 

In 1971 his wife Helen died.  While continuing to work, those who knew him best said, he would never fully recover from her death.  He is most known though to Star Wars fans as Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin.

Cushing died of cancer on August 11, 1994, in Canterbury, Kent, England.

Actor's Notebook: Christopher Lee~2002 (archive footage) - Sherlock Holmes
100 years of Horror~1996 (archive footage) - interviewee
Vampire Interviews, The~1994 (archive footage) - Himself
Dr. Who: Daleks - The Early Years~1993 (archive footage) - Dr. Who
Biggles: Adventures in Time~1986 - Colonel William Raymond (see Actor Connections - Film)
House of the Long Shadows~1983 - Sebastian Grisbane (see Actor Connections - Film)
Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight~1982 - Seneschal (see Actor Connections - Film)
Mystery on Monster Island~1981 - William T. Kolderup
Black Jack (Panic in the Casino)~1981 - Sir Thomas Bedford
Arabian Adventure~1979 - Wazir Al Wuzara (see Actor Connections - Film)
Touch of the Sun, A~1979 - Commissioner Potts
The Detour~1978 (short) - Narrator (introduction of the film) Note: This 1/2 an hour film was made entirely in Malta and is about Pharoah dogs.
Son of Hitler (Hitler's Son)~1978 - Heinrich Hussner
Shock Waves~1977 - Major Von Hackenberg
Standarte, Die~1977 - SS Commander
The Uncanny~1977 - Wilbur Gray
Star Wars~1977 - Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin
The Devil's Men (Land of the Minotaur)~1976 - Baron Corofax (see Actor Connections - Film)
Trial by Combat (A Dirty Knight's Work)~1976 - Sir Edward Gifford (see Actor Connections - Film)
Ghoul, The (Night of the Ghoul)~1975 - Dr. Lawrence (see Actor Connections - Film)
Legend of the Werewolf~1975 - Paul Cataflanque (see Actor Connections - Film)
Tender Dracula~1975 - MacGregor
Beast Must Die, The~1974 - Dr. Christopher Lundgren
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell~1974 - Baron Frankenstein
Madhouse~1974 - Herbert Flay
Satanic Rites of Dracula, The~1974 - Professor Larimer Van Helsing (see Actor Connections - Film)

Shatter~1974 - Paul Rattwood

Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, The~1974 - Professor Van Helsing
And Now the Screaming Starts~1973 - Dr. Pope
Creeping Flesh~1973 - Emmanuel Hildern (see Actor Connections - Film)
From Beyond the Grave~1973 - Antique Shop Proprietor (see Actor Connections - Film)
Asylum~1972 - Smith
Dr. Phibes Rises Again~1972 - Ship's Captain
Horror Express~1972 - Dr. Wells (see Actor Connections - Film)

Nothing But the Night~1972 - Sir Mark Ashley (see Actor Connections - Film)
Dracula A.D. 1972~1972 - Professor Van Helsing (see Actor Connections - Film)
Fear in the Night~1972 - Michael Carmichael
Tales from the Crypt~1972 - Arthur Edward Grimsdyke "Poetic Justice"
Bloodsuckers (Incense for the Damned)~1972 - Dr. Walter Goodrich
I, Monster~1971 - Frederick Utterson (see Actor Connections - Film)
Twins of Evil~1971 - Gustav Weil (see Actor Connections - Film)
House that Dripped Blood~1970 - Philip Grayson in Waxworks (see Actor Connections - Film)
One More Time~1970 - (uncredited) Dr. Frankenstein (see Actor Connections - Film)
Vampire Lovers, The~1970 - General Von Spielsdorf
Scream and Scream Again~1969 - Benedek (see Actor Connections - Film)

The Blood Beast Terror~1967 - Inspector Quennell (see Actor Connections - Film)
Corruption~1967 - Sir John Rowan
Frankenstein Created Woman~1967 - Baron Frankenstein
Night of the Big Heat~1967 - Dr. Vernon Stone
Torture Garden~1967 - Lancelot Canning
The Mummy's Shroud~1967 - (uncredited narrator)
Island of Terror~1966 - Dr. Brian Stanlov
Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 (Doctor Who)~1966 - The Doctor
Doctor Who and the Daleks~1965 - The Doctor
Island of Terror~1966 - Dr. Brain Stanley
Dracula Prince of Darkness~1966 - (uncredited/archive footage) Dr. Van Helsing
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors~1965 - Dr. Sandor Schreck
The Skull~1965 - Dr. Christopher Maitland
She (She Who Must Be Obeyed)~1965 - Major Horace Holly
The Gorgon~1964 - Dr. Namaroff
Evil of Frankenstein~1964 - Baron Frankenstein
Lolita~1962 - Himself as Dr. Frankenstein (archive - characters watch this scene in Frankenstein)

Man Who Finally Died, The~1962 - Dr. Von Brecht
Night Creatures (Captain Clegg)~1962 - Reverend Dr. Blyss (Captain Clegg)
Cash on Demand~1961 - Fordyce
Cone of Silence~1961 - Capt Clive Judd
Fury at Smugglers Bay~1961 - Squire Trevenyan
Naked Edge, The~1961 - Mr. Evan Wrack
Devil's Agent, The~1961 - (scenes deleted) (see Actor Connections - Film)
Hellfire Club, The~1960 - Merryweather (see Actor Connections - Film)
Suspect~1960 -Professor Sewell
Sword of Sherwood Forest~1960 - Sheriff of Nottingham
Brides of Dracula~1960 - Dr. Van Helsing
Flesh and the Fiends, The~1959 - Dr. Robert Knox
The Hound of the Bakservilles~1959 - Sherlock Holmes (see Actor Connections - Film)
Mummy, The~1959 - John Banning (see Actor Connections - Film)
John Paul Jones~1959 - Captain Pearson (see Actor Connections - Film)

Revenge of Frankenstein~1958 - Dr. Victor Stein AKA Frankenstein (see Actor Connections - Film)
Violent Playground~1958 - The Priest
Dracula~1958 - Dr. Van Helsing (see Actor Connections - Film)
Curse of Frankenstein, The~1957 - Baron Victor Frankenstein (see Actor Connections - Film)
The Abominable Snowman~1957 - Dr. John Rollason
Magic Fire~1956 - Otto Wesendonk
Time Without Pity~1956 - Jeremy Clayton
Alexander the Great~1956 - Memnon
End of the Affair, The~1955 - Henry Miles
Black Knight, The~1954 - Sir Palamides
Moulin Rouge~1952 - Mareel de la Voisier (see Actor Connections - Film)
Hamlet~1948 - Osric (see Actor Connections - Film)
Return From Nowhere~1944 - (uncredited) Awakening Man
Woman in the House~1942 - (uncredited) Man Waking Up
They Dare Not Love~1941 - Sub-Lt Blacker
Howards of Virginia~1940 - Leslie Stevens
Laddie~1940 - Robert Pryor
Women in War~1940 - Capt Evans
Dreams~1940 - First Dreamer
Hidden Master, The~1940 - Robert Clive of India
Chump at Oxford~1940 - Student (Jones)

Vigil in the Night~1940 - Joe Shand
Man in the Iron Mask~1939 - King's Messenger

AFI's 100 Years, 100 Thrills: America's Most Heart-Pounding Movies~2001 - Himself (archive footage)
67th Annual Academy Awards, The~1995 - Himself in a memorial tribute (previously filmed)
Flesh and Blood: The Hammer Heritage of Horror~1994  archive footage - narrator/himself
BBC News~1993 - Himself
Doctor Who: Thirty Years in the Tardis~1993  - Dr. Who
Behind the Headlines~1992 - Himself
Pebble Mill at One~1991 - Himself
Newsroom South East~1990 - Himself 7/12 & 8/9
Human Factor: For the Love of Helen~1990 - Himself
This is Your Life, Peter Cushing~1990 - Himself in Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing: A One-Way Ticket to Hollywood~1989  - Himself
Hammer: The Studio that Dripped Blood~1987 - Himself
Wogan~1986 - Himself in:
Jim'll Fix It~1986 - Himself in Helen Cushing Rose
Look North~1986 - Himself
Pebble Mill at One~1986 - Himself 3/24/86
Everyman~1986 - Himself/interviewee in The True Story of Frankenstein
Masks of Death, The~1984 - Sherlock Holmes
Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues~1984  Professor Charles Copeland
Breakfast Time~1983 - Himself/guest
Tales of the Unexpected~1983 - Von Baden in The Vorpal Blade
Tale of Two Cities, A~1980 - Dr. Alexander Manette
Silent Scream, The~1980 - Martin Blueck in THe House of Hammer Series
Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show~1980 - Himself
Hammer House of Horror~1980 - in The Silent Scream
Tale of Two Cities, A~1980  - Dr. Manette
Morecambe and Wise Show~1978 - Guest
Land Looking West, A~1977 (doc - mini)  - Himself
Jim'll Fix It~1976 - Himself in the Bank Holiday Special
Magpie~1976 - Himself for At the Earth's Core
Clapperboard~1976 - Himself for At the Earth's Core
Great Houdini, The~1976  - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
New Avengers, The~1976 - Von Claus in The Eagle's Nest
Space: 1999~1976 - Raan in Missing Link
Jim'll Fix It~1976 - Himself in Bank Holiday Special
Amazing World of Cinema, The~1975 - Narrator of The Mad Scientists
Haunted - Herstmonceaux Castle~1975 - Narrator
Tomorrow Show, The~1973 - Tom Snyder interview
Christ - What Was He Like?~1974 - Himself
Zoo Gang, The~1974 - Judge Gautier in The Counterfeit Trap
This is Your Life~1974 - Himself in Christopher Lee
Ask Aspel~1973 - guest
Nationwide~1973 - guest
Morecambe and Wise Show~1973 - Himself
Film '73~1973 - Himself for Madhouse
Great Mysteries~1973 - Count Gerard de Merret in La Grande Breteche
Going for a Song~1972 - Himself
Man Alive~1971 - Guest
Wild-Life Spectacular~1971 - Himself
Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show~1970 - Himself
Line-Up~1970 - Himself
Morecambe and Wise Show~1969 - Two appearances as a guest/himself
Line-Up~1968 - Interviewee
Sherlock Holmes~1968 (mini)  - Sherlock Holmes
Greek Interpreter, The~1968
Hound of the Baskervilles~1968 - two episodes
Study in Scarlet, A~1968
Naval Treaty, The~1968
Dancing Men, The~1968
Star Choice~1968 - guest
Avengers, The~1967 - Paul Beresford in Return of the Cybernauts
Some May Live~1967 -John Meredith (see Actor Connections - Film)

First Impressions~1965 - Interviewee
Bernard Cribbens Show, The~1965 - guest
Late Night Line Up~1965 - Interviewee
Thirty Minute Theatre~1965 - Leonard in Monica
Caves of Steel~1964  - Elijah Baley
Spread of the Eagle, The~1963 (TV mini-series) Cassius
Plan, The~1963 - Albert Fawkes
Julius Caesar~1963 - Caius Cassius
Living Today~1963 - Interviewee
Peace with Terror~1962 - Parsons
Uncle Harry~1958 - Uncle Harry
Winslow Boy, The~1958 - Sir Robert Morton
What's My Line~1958 - guest
Picture Parade~1957 - Interviewee
Gaslight~1957 - Mr. Manningham
House Magazine~1955 - Interviewee
Home at Seven~1955 - David Preston
Richard of Bordeaux~1955 - Richard III
Browning Version, The~1955 - Andrew Crocker-Harris
Moment of Truth, The~1955 - Prime Minister
Find the Link~1955 - guest
Creature, The~1955  - Dr. John Rollason
Nineteen Eighty-Four~1954 - Winston Smith
Face of Love~1954 - Mardian
Down You Go!~1954 - guest
Men of Mystery~1954 - guest
May Day~1954 - narrator
Beau Brummell~1954 - Beau Brummell
Tovarich~1954 - Prince Mikail
BBC News~1953 - Himself 8/5/53
Number Three~1953 - Mr. Simpson
Epitaph for a Spy~1953 (mini) - Vadassey
Social Success, A~1953 - Henry Robbins
Rookery Nook~1953 - Clive Popkins
Road, The~1953 - Antoine Vanier
Anastasia~1953 - Piotr Petrovsky
Nobel Spaniard~1953 - Duke of Hermanos
Portrait by Peko~1953 - Seppi Fredericks
Asmodee~1952 - Blase Lebel
Bird in Hand~1952 - Cyril Beverly
For the Children: The Silver Swan~1952 - Lord Henriques
If This be Error~1952 - Nick Grant
Pride and Prejudice~1952 (mini) - Mr. Darcy
When We Are Married~1951 - Gerald Forbes
Eden End~1951 - Charles Appleby

Heiress, The~1975 - Dr. Austin Sloper (Provinces)
Thark~1965 - Sir Hector Benbow (Gilford then to West End, London, UK)
Sound of Murder, The~1959 - Charles Norbury (West End, London, UK)
Silver Whistle, The~1956 - Oliver T. Erwenter (West End, London, UK)
Soldier and the Lady, The~1954 - (West End, London, UK)
Wedding Ring, The~1952 - (Great Britain Tour)
Antony and Cleopatra~1951 - Alexas/Diomedes (Laurence Olivier's Festival Season, West End, London, UK)
Caesar and Cleopatra~1951 - Bel Affris/Britannus (Laurence Olivier's Festival Season, West End, London, UK)
Gay Invalid, The~1951 - (West End, London, UK)
Marriage Bureau~1950 -
Antigone~1949 - (Old Vic, London, UK)
Proposal, The~1949 - Ivan Vassilyevitch Lomov (Old Vic, London, UK)
School for Scandal~1949 - Joseph Surface (Old Vic, London, UK)
Richard III~1949 - George, Duke of Clarence/Cardinal Bouchier (Old Vic, London, UK)
Skin of Our Teeth~1948 - (Old Vic Tour, Australasia)
School for Scadal~1948 - Joseph Surface (Old Vic Tour, Australasia)
Richard III~1948 - George/Duke of Clarence/Cardinal Bouchier (Old Vic Tour, Australia, New Zealand, London)
While the Sun Shines~1946 - Lt. Deckers Colbert (Q Theatre, Kew Bridge, Chiswick, UK)
Fumed Oak~1946 - (Q Theatre, Kew Bridge, Chiswick, UK)
Astonished Heart~1946 (Q Theatre, Kew Bridge, Chiswick, UK)
They Came to a City~1946 - (Q Theatre, Kew Bridge, Chiswick, UK)
Curious Dr. Robson~1946 (Q Theatre, Kew Bridge, Chiswick, UK)
While the Sun Shines~1945 - Lt. Deckers Colbert (Globe, London, England, UK)
Rivals, The~1945 - Mr. Faulkland (West End, London, UK)
Fifth Column, The~1944 - (West End, London, UK)
Happy Few~1944 - (West End, London, UK)
Morning Star~1944 - Private Charles (West End, London, UK)
Watch on the Rhine~1944 - (Q Theatre, Kew Bridge, Chiswick, UK)
Crime of Margeret Foley~1944 - (Q Theatre, Kew Bridge, Chiswick, UK)
Dark Potential, The~1944 - (Q Theatre, Kew Bridge, Chiswick, UK) (see Actor Connections - Theatre)
War and Peace~1943 - Alexander I/Captain Ramballe (West End, London, UK)
Private Lives~1942-3 - Elyot Chase (ENSA tour, GB, UK)
Seventh Trumpet, The~1941 - Percival, a London Bobby (Mansfield Theatre, New York, US)
MacBeth~1941 - Banquo (Summer Stock, US)
Fumed Oak~1941 - (Summer Stock, US)
Ghost Train, The~1941 - (Summer Stock, US)
Petreified Forest, The~1941 - (Summer Stock, US)
Biography~1941 - (Summer Stock, US)
Love From a Stranger~1939-40 - Bruce Lovell (Summer Stock, California, US)
Tonight at 8:30~1939 -
Dick Whittington~1937 -
Lean Harvest~1937 - (Grand Theatre, Southampton, UK)
Middle Watch, The~1936 - (Connaught Theatre, Sussex, UK)
Cornelius~1936 - (Connaught Theatre, Sussex, UK)

Human Conflict~1990 - narrator
Aliens in the Mind~1977 - Hugh Baxter 1/2/77 - 2/6/77 (6 part series)
Tender Dracula~1974?
Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires~1974?

Live Performances
John Player~1973 - Lecture (National Film Theatre, London, UK)

No White Peaks~1991 (a spoken poem about the Gulf War that was set to music, as a rap, and released as a single)

Audio Books
Peter Cushing: An Autobiography~1999 - narrator
Past Forgetting: Memories of the Hammer Years~1994 - narrator

Books for the Blind
Many titles as yet unknown

In All Sincerity...Peter Cushing~ by Christopher Gullo
Peter Cushing: An Autobiography and Past Forgetting~1999
Past Forgetting: Memories of the Hammer Years~1994 (audio cassette)

Video Games 
Star Wars: Battlefront~2004 - Grand Moff Tarkin (archive voice)

Awards, Honors, and Nominations
National TV Award:
Rec'd 1954 - Daily Mail 'Outstanding Actor of the Year'
Rec'd 1953 - Daily Mail 'Outstanding Actor of the Year'
Guild of TV Producers and Directors:
Rec'd 1955 'Best Performance Award (as Winston Smith in '1984')
Pipe Smoker of the Year: 
Rec'd 1968 (as Sherlock Holmes on BBC TV series)
Licorne d'Or Award: 
Rec'd 1971 Best Male Actor 2nd French Convention of Fantasy Cinema (as Arthur Grimsdyke in 'Tales from the Crypt')
Rec'd 1971 Most Popular Actor in France  ( for his roles in Fantasy Entertainment and service to the cinema)
International Festival of Science Fiction and Terror:
Rec'd 1976 Best Actor at Sitges, Spain ( for Dr. Lawrence in The Ghoul)
Rec'd 1983 Best Actor (shared with Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, John Carradine for their roles in 'House of the Long Shadows')
International Fantasy Film Award:
Rec'd 1984 fantasporto festival (for his contributions to the fantastic film genre)
Laemle Award:
Rec'd 1999 Monster Rally Convention at Virginia, US (for his lifelong contribution to films - posthumous)
Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:
Rec'd 1989 OBE  (by Queen Elizabeth II)

Hand-created wooden theatre models

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