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Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing

Peter Wilton Cushing, OBE (26 May 1913 – 11 August 1994), was an English actor best known for his roles in the Hammer Productions horror films of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, as well as his performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars (1977). His acting career spanned over six decades and included appearances in more than 100 films, as well as many television, stage and radio roles. 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 greatly to find work during this period and began to consider himself a failure. 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 in a BBC Television adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954). Cushing gained worldwide fame for his appearances in 22 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, including The Abominable Snowman (1957), The Mummy and The Hound of the Baskervilles (both 1957), the last of which marked the first of the several occasions he portrayed the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. Cushing continued to perform a in a variety of roles, although he was often typecast as a horror film actor. He played Dr. Who in Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966) and gained the highest amount of visibility in his career with his part in the original Star Wars film (1977). Cushing continued acting into his later years, and wrote two autobiographies. He was married to Helen Cushing for 28 years before she died in 1971. Cushing died in 1994 of prostate cancer.