Peter Cushing

Birthday
May 26, 1913
Sun Sign
Gemini
Zodiac Sign
Gemini
Born Place
Kenley, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
Birth Name
Peter Wilton Cushing
Nickname
Props
Height
5 ft 11½ in or 181.5 cm
Weight
72 kg or 158.5 lbs
Eye Color
Blue
Hair Color
Salt and Pepper
Race / Ethnicity
White
Cushing was of English descent.
Sexual Orientation
Straight
Religion
He never joined an organized religion after his wife’s death but maintained a belief in both God and an afterlife.

[Peter Cushing] Introduction

Peter Wilton Cushing OBE (26 May 1913 – 11 August 1994) was an English actor. His acting career spanned over six decades and included appearances in more than 100 films, as well as many television, stage and radio roles. He achieved recognition for his leading performances in the Hammer Productions horror films from the 1950s to 1970s, and as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars (1977). Born in Kenley, Surrey, Cushing made his stage debut in 1935 and spent three years at a repertory theatre before moving to Hollywood to pursue a film career. After making his motion picture debut in the film The Man in the Iron Mask (1939), Cushing began to find modest success in American films before returning to England at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Despite performing in a string of roles, including one as Osric in Laurence Olivier's film adaptation of Hamlet (1948), Cushing struggled to find work during this period. His career was revitalised once he started to work in live television plays and he soon became one of the most recognisable faces in British television. He earned particular acclaim for his lead performance as Winston Smith in a BBC adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954). Cushing gained worldwide fame for his appearances in twenty-two horror films from the Hammer studio, particularly for his role as Baron Frankenstein in six of their seven Frankenstein films and Doctor Van Helsing in five Dracula films. Cushing often appeared alongside actor Christopher Lee, who became one of his closest friends, and occasionally with the American horror star Vincent Price. Cushing appeared in several other Hammer films and continued to perform in a variety of roles. He played Dr. Who in Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966) and became even better known through his part in the original Star Wars film. Cushing continued acting into the early to mid-1990s and wrote two autobiographies.

[Peter Cushing] Personal life

Peter Cushing had a variety of interests outside acting, including collecting and battling model soldiers, of which he owned over five thousand. He hand-painted many and used the Little Wars rule set by H. G. Wells for miniature wargaming. He also loved games and practical jokes, and enjoyed drawing and painting watercolours, the latter of which he did especially often in his later years. 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. He nevertheless maintained a belief in both God and an afterlife. He was an ardent vegetarian for most of his life who served as a patron with the Vegetarian Society from 1987 until his death. He also had a great interest in ornithology and wildlife in general. He suffered from nyctophobia from early in his life, but in his later years overcame this by forcing himself to take walks outside after midnight.

Cushing was known among his colleagues for his gentle and gentlemanly demeanor, as well as his professionalism and rigorous preparation as an actor. He once said that he learned his parts "from cover to cover" before filming began. His colleagues often spoke of his politeness, charm, old-fashioned manners and sense of humour. While working, he actively provided feedback and suggestions on other elements beyond his performance, such as dialogue and wardrobe. Cushing was a perfectionist and preferred the medium of film, as it allowed him to work out the best performance possible. He was proud of his Hammer films, and always took the roles seriously and never portrayed them in a campy or tongue-in-cheek style because he felt it would be insulting to his audience.

He married Violet Hélène Beck in 1943, but was devastated when she died in 1971. Cushing felt his life had ended when hers did, and he was so crushed that when his first autobiography was published in 1986, it made no mention of his life after her death. In 1972, he was quoted in the Radio Times as having said, "Since Helen passed on I can't find anything; the heart, quite simply, has gone out of everything. 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. To join Helen is my only ambition. You have my permission to publish that.” Cushing explored his grief in his subsequent films, especially in the Hammer films, where he often played the role of a man who had lost a family.

In addition to his acting career, Cushing had a variety of interests outside of theatrics. He was an avid collector and battler of model soldiers and used the Little Wars rule set by H. G. Wells for miniature wargaming. He enjoyed drawing and painting watercolours, particularly in his later years, and was an ardent vegetarian for most of his life, serving as a patron with the Vegetarian Society from 1987 until his death. He also had a great interest in ornithology and wildlife in general, and had overcome his nyctophobia by the end of his life. He was well-known for his gentle and gentlemanly demeanor, professionalism, politeness, charm, and old-fashioned manners. He used his perfectionist nature to create the best performances possible, and always took the roles seriously, never skewing them in a campy or tongue-in-cheek style.

More Details

 Distinctive

  • Gentle, polite, and charming demeanor
  • Professionalism

 Family

  • Father – George Edward Cushing (1881-1956) (Quantity Surveyor)
  • Mother – Nellie Marie (née King) Cushing (1882-1961)
  • Siblings – David Cushing (Older Brother)
  • Others – Henry William Cushing (Paternal Grandfather) (Stage artist who toured with actor Henry Irving), Emily Day (Paternal Grandmother), David King (Maternal Grandfather) (Carpet Merchant), Esther Marriane Snelling (Maternal Grandmother), Maude Cushing (Paternal Aunt) (Stage Artist), Wilton Herriot (Step-Uncle) (Stage Artist)

 Girlfriend / Spouse

  • Violet Hélène Beck (1943-1971)

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