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Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing

Peter Wilton Cushing (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 in his home country for his leading performances in the Hammer Productions horror films from the 1950s to 1970s, while earning international prominence as Grand Moff Tarkin in the original 1977 Star Wars. 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. 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 1959), the last of which marked the first of the several occasions he portrayed the detective Sherlock Holmes. Cushing continued to perform 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. Cushing continued acting into the early 1990s and wrote two autobiographies.
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