"If I played Hamlet, they'd call it a horror film."

English actor (1913-1994). Born in Kenley, Surrey on May 26, 1913, he was attracted in early life to acting because his favorite aunt was an actress. He studied theater and art when he was in school and put his drawing talents to work on his first job as a government surveyor's assistant. He also sold hand-painted scarves to make ends meet.

After volunteering in his local amateur theater, he received a scholarship to London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama and performed in repertory theater. He movied to Hollywood in 1939 and made his screen debut in a bit part in "The Man in the Iron Mask." He also appeared in a Laurel and Hardy movie called "A Chump at Oxford" before moving to New York City for some small plays on Broadway, north to Canada, then back home to England.

Cushing's big break came after World War II and after a string of performances in the West End when he appeared as Osric with Laurence Olivier in 1948's "Hamlet". (Christopher Lee also had a small part in "Hamlet", and Cushing and Lee both appeared in 1952's "Moulin Rouge", but the two future horror kings didn't actually meet each other until the late 1950s) Cushing appeared in a number of teleplays on British TV, including "Pride and Prejudice," "1984," and "Beau Brummell".

Cushing became a horror movie superstar in 1957, when he starred as Dr. Frankenstein (to Lee's shambling monster) in "The Curse of Frankenstein." Hammer Films' full-color, dripping-bloody remake of Universal Studios' classic "Frankenstein" was a massive hit, prompting Hammer to make more horror films, including "Horror of Dracula" in 1958 (Cushing was Van Helsing, Lee was Dracula), "Revenge of Frankenstein" in 1958, and "The Mummy" in 1959 (Cushing played John Banning, with Lee as the title monster). He also took on horror films for other studios, including "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors", "I, Monster", and many others.

Cushing may be even better known for some of his other roles. He delivered one of the best performances of Sherlock Holmes ever in 1959's "The Hound of the Baskervilles", in a TV series in the mid-'60s, and in a TV movie in 1984. He was the arrogant Grand Moff Tarkin in "Star Wars". And he even played Dr. Who in 1965's "Dr. Who and the Daleks" and 1966's "Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D." And he had a chance to play another famous horror character--he was John Carpenter's first choice to play the obsessed Dr. Loomis in "Halloween".

Some of Cushing's other films included: "The Flesh and the Fiends", "The Brides of Dracula", "Captain Clegg", "Sword of Sherwood Forest", "The Evil of Frankenstein", "The Gorgon", "Island of Terror", "Frankenstein Created Woman", "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed", "Scream and Scream Again", "The Vampire Lovers", "The House that Dripped Blood", "Tales from the Crypt" (the 1972 movie, not the TV show), "Dr. Phibes Rises Again", "Asylum", "Dracula A.D. 1972", "The Creeping Flesh", "The Satanic Rites of Dracula", "Madhouse", "Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell", "The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires", "The Beast Must Die", "Legend of the Werewolf", "The Ghoul", "At the Earth's Core", "The Uncanny", "A Touch of the Sun", "House of the Long Shadows", "Top Secret!, "The Masks of Death", and "Biggles: Adventures in Time".

After retiring, Cushing wrote two autobiographies, indulged in his hobbies of bird watching and painting watercolors, and was made an Officer of the British Empire. He died of prostate cancer on August 11, 1994 in Canterbury, Kent.

Interesting trivia that I did not know before: Cushing was a vegetarian.

Research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and too many vegetarian websites to list...

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