Peter Cushing

Last updated on the 5 June 2024 by Maeve

Peter Cushing headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 26 May 1913, Kenley, Surrey, England.

Peter Cushing, an English actor whose career spanned over six decades, is remembered for his significant contributions to the horror genre and his role in the original Star Wars film. Cushing’s early life was marked by a passion for acting, inspired by his favourite aunt, a stage actress of her time.

Peter Cushing grew up in a family where his father was a quantity surveyor. Despite his father’s reserved nature, young Peter found his calling in the arts. He attended Shoreham College and later developed his craft at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His early interest in acting was complemented by his talent in drawing, which he initially used in his first job as a government surveyor’s assistant.

Peter Cushing Nineteen Eighty-Four
Yvonne Mitchell (Julia) and Peter Cushing (Winston Smith) , Nineteen Eighty-Four

Peter Cushing made his stage debut in 1935 and quickly moved to Hollywood, where he appeared in The Man in the Iron Mask (1939). However, with the outbreak of World War II, he returned to England. His career saw a resurgence with his work in live television plays and he became a familiar face on British television. His portrayal of Winston Smith in the BBC adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954) earned him critical acclaim.

Peter Cushing’s association with Hammer Productions began in the 1950s, where he played iconic roles such as Baron Frankenstein and Doctor Van Helsing. His performances in a series of horror films alongside actors like Christopher Lee and Vincent Price cemented his legacy in the genre. Notably, Cushing also portrayed Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) and took on the role of Dr. Who in two films during the 1960s.

Peter Cushing’s international fame soared with his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars (1977). Despite being typecast as a horror actor, he continued to take on diverse roles until the early 1990s. His dedication to his craft was evident in his performances, which remained compelling until his last years.

Peter Cushing The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Peter Cushing – The Curse of Frankenstein

Peter Cushing married Violet Helen Beck in 1943 and they remained together until her death in 1971. His personal life was characterised by a deep love for his wife and her passing had a profound impact on him. Cushing was also known for his gentle and kind demeanor off-screen, which contrasted with the often sinister characters he portrayed.

In conclusion, Peter Cushing’s legacy as an actor is marked by his versatility and the depth he brought to each role. From his early days on the stage to his iconic roles in film and television, Cushing’s work continues to influence the horror genre and captivate audiences worldwide. His personal life, though touched by sorrow, reflects the warmth and humanity he carried within him, making his memory all the more cherished.

 

BAFTA award

 

WINNER|Television: Best Lead Actor (1955)

 

 

Suggested viewing

 

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954)

Peter Cushing Nineteen Eighty-Four poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.7

“Nineteen Eighty-Four” is based on a dystopian novel by George Orwell. Set in a totalitarian society ruled by the Party, the story follows Winston Smith, a low-ranking member who rebels against the oppressive regime. As he navigates a world of constant surveillance and manipulation, Winston embarks on a dangerous journey of self-discovery and resistance against Big Brother.

Top cast: Peter Cushing, Yvonne Mitchell, Donald Pleasence, Arnold Diamond, Campbell Gray, André Morell, Hilda Fenemore, Pamela Grant, Keith Davis.

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.9

In “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate a family curse involving a demonic hound that haunts the moors surrounding the Baskerville estate. With eerie atmosphere and suspenseful twists, they unravel the mystery behind supernatural occurrences and unmask a cunning murderer.

Starring Peter Cushing, André Morell, Christopher Lee, Marla Landi, David Oxley, Francis De Wolff, Miles Malleson and Ewen Solon.

 

Cone of Silence (1960)

Cone of Silence (1960)

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.5

“Cone of Silence,” also known as “Trouble in the Sky” in the United States, is a drama film directed by Charles Frend. The film revolves around an investigation into a series of crashes involving the fictional ‘Atlas Aviation Phoenix’ jetliner. Based on David Beaty’s novel of the same name, which draws inspiration from the 1952 Rome crash and investigations into the de Havilland Comet airliner’s structural integrity.

Top cast: Michael Craig, Peter Cushing, Bernard Lee, Elizabeth Seal, George Sanders, André Morell, Gordon Jackson, Charles Tingwell and Noel Willman.

 

Dracula (1958)

Dracula (1958)

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.2

In “Dracula”, based on Bram Stoker’s novel, Count Dracula moves to England and preys upon unsuspecting victims while a group of individuals, led by Professor Van Helsing, attempt to stop his reign of terror. It is a classic tale of horror, bloodlust, and the battle between good and evil.

Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, Olga Dickie, John Van Eyssen and Valerie Gaunt.

 

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.0

In “The Curse of Frankenstein”, Baron Victor Frankenstein obsessively pursues his scientific experiments to create life from dead tissue. With the help of his devoted assistant, he succeeds in bringing a creature to life, but tragedy ensues as the monster’s uncontrollable nature leads to chaos and destruction.

Starring Peter Cushing, Hazel Court, Robert Urquhart, Christopher Lee, Valerie Gaunt, Noel Hood, Melvyn Hayes and Paul Hardtmuth.

 

Tales from the Crypt (1972)

Tales from the Crypt (1972)

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.9

In the Peter Cushing episode of “Tales from the Crypt”, titled “Poetic Justice,” a vengeful widower seeks justice for his deceased wife’s tragic fate by enacting an elaborate plan. With macabre twists and poetic irony, he ensures that those responsible pay dearly for their crimes in this chilling tale of revenge and comeuppance.

Starring Peter Cushing, Robin Phillips, Richard Greene, Barbara Murray, Nigel Patrick, Patrick Magee, David Markham and Robert Hutton.

 

Cash on Demand (1961)

Cash on Demand (1961)

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.5

In “Cash on Demand”, a bank manager becomes the target of a meticulous criminal mastermind who holds his family hostage. Forced to assist in a meticulously planned heist, the manager must outsmart his captor and find a way to save his loved ones while maintaining control over an escalating situation.

Starring Peter Cushing, André Morell, Richard Vernon, Norman Bird, Kevin Stoney, Barry Lowe, Edith Sharpe and Lois Daine.

 

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 5.6

In “Dr. Who and the Daleks”, loosely based on the British TV series Doctor Who, Dr. Who and his companions stumble upon a time machine called TARDIS, which takes them to an alien planet where they encounter the tyrannical Daleks and become entangled in a dangerous struggle for survival.

Starring Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Jennie Linden, Roberta Tovey, Barrie Ingham, Geoffrey Toone, Michael Coles and John Bown.

 

Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966)

Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966)

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 5.9

In “Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.”, loosely based on the British TV series Doctor Who, the Doctor and his companions travel to a post-apocalyptic Earth in the year 2150 where they join forces with resistance fighters to battle against the evil Daleks who have invaded and enslaved humanity.

Starring Peter Cushing, Bernard Cribbins, Ray Brooks, Andrew Keir, Roberta Tovey, Jill Curzon, Roger Avon and Geoffrey Cheshire.

 

Horror Express (1972)

Horror Express poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.5

“Horror Express” is a supernatural horror film directed by Eugenio Martín. Set in the early 20th century, it revolves around a British anthropologist who unwittingly transports an ancient creature on a train. As the creature begins to unleash its deadly powers, a terrifying battle for survival ensues among the passengers, leading to a chilling climax.

Top cast: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Telly Savalas, Alberto de Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa, Julio Peña, Helga Liné, George Rigaud.

 

Peter Cushing full filmography @ Wikipedia
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