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Old 05-26-2011, 02:06 AM
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Peter Cushing - The Great Gentleman of Horror

Why do we have so much love & care for our favorite actors in cinema?

In celluloid media I think it's actually in the process of viewing beautiful films of a certain actor(s). After watching some great performances that we liked so much that we developed an emotional bond with them intentionally or not. But when the business is to frighten the audience in an uncanny & shivering tale things get bit challenging for an actor. But there were some masters who entertained the genre fans all over the world for years, kept us always wanting to see more of their films and on a day when nothing goes right, we sit down & watch one of their films was like visiting an old friend and that always feels comforting and blissful. Peter Cushing is undoubtedly one of those kind of legends in horror cinema and today, on his 98th birthday we...HDC, a small but great community of fans likes to thank & salute him for the numerous hours of entertainment he given to us in a career that spanned well over fifty years, from the irrepressible Baron Frankenstein, the tireless Van Helsing, the quick-witted Sherlcok Holmes and the sympathetic Arthur Grimsdyke, any fan is sure to find some character that they can identify with and love immensely.



"That character of his always shined through in all of his movies. No matter how mean they were supposed to be, you always felt that underneath the makeup or acting was a real Santa Claus character. That's certainly true of Peter Cushing." Forrest J Ackerman.

Though I'm sure we all more or less know about him well but just for a little tribute let's take a glimpse in the life & works of this great legend of Horror cinema:

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Peter Wilton Cushing was born in Kenley, a district in the English county of Surrey, on May 26th, 1913.


At age of 9.

After various repertory experiences, he saved enough money to sail to the USA in 1938. In Hollywood, he doubled for Louis Hayward in The Man in the Iron Mask and played second male lead in The Vigil in the Night.
He returned to the United Kingdom after two years and started again working in theater, film and television. It was while appearing in Noel Coward's Private Lives, in 1940 that he met and married actress Helen Beck.
Following his part in George Orwell's 1984, Hammer cast him as the infamous and amoral Baron Frankenstein in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and the film's success brought him international stardom marking the first of twenty-two films he made with Hammer Studios where he played the role of Baron a total of five times.
The other Hammer character for which hi is known is that of the compassionate Doctor Van Helsing, arch-foe of Count Dracula.
Cushing's other famous roles include Sherlock Holmes (for both Hammer and the BBC), Doctor Who (in two theatrical films) and Grand Moff Tarkin in STAR WARS.
His wife Helen dies in 1971. While he continued to work actively, it is said by those who knew him best that he never fully recovered from her death. During the filming of TALES FROM THE CRYPT, Cushing played something of a tribute to his beloved wife with the character he portrayed-a man who appears to have lost all after the death of his beloved wife; and in fact, it's her photo we see him talking to in the film.

Peter Cushing died on August 11, 1994.

Although he will be forever identified with horror, a quick look at his screen credits will show that although he made numerous horror films, an even larger chunk of his work was in Shakespeare, drama and comedy. He loved his horror roles, but ironically, did not enjoy horror films very much at all.

"Strangely enough, I don't like horror pictures at all. I love to make them because they give pleasure to people, but my favourite types of films are much more subtle than horror. I like to watch films like Bridge Over the River Kawi, The Apartment or lovely musicals."


During his declining years, Cushing was not an idle man, heavens no. In the years before his death he wrote "Peter Cushing - An Autobiography" and "The Bois Saga", an alphonetic history of his homeland, which was forty years in the making. He also indulged in his hobbies of painting, bird watching and answering fan mail. A skilled craftsman, he also worked on many personal projects. The "gentle man of horror", as he was dubbed, died after a long bout with prostate cancer on August 11, 1994, in Cantebury, Kent, England. He had had the disease since the early 1980's, and had made an almost complete recovery when it struck back with a vengeance. His last project was "Flesh and Blood - The Hammer Heritage of Horror", a documentary he had completed with Christopher Lee just a few weeks before his death.


Sources: Online Archives & Articles

Last edited by roshiq; 05-26-2011 at 02:08 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 02:19 AM
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Cushing as Hammer's Frankenstein:


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Unlike the well-known Frankenstein film from 1931 by Universal Studios, the Hammer films revolved mainly around Victor Frankenstein, rather than his monster. Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster wrote the protagonist as an ambitious, egotistical and coldly intellectual scientist who despised his contemporaries. Unlike the character from the novel and past film versions, Cushing's Frankenstein commits vicious crimes to attain his goals, including the murder of a colleague to obtain a brain for his creature. The Curse of Frankenstein also starred Cushing's old Hamlet co-star & a Sir Christopher Lee, who played Frankenstein's monster. Cushing and Lee became extremely close friends, and would remain so for the rest of Cushing's life. They first met on the set of the film, where Lee was still wearing the monster make-up prepared by Phil Leakey. Hammer Studios' publicity department put out a story that when Cushing first encountered Lee without the make-up on, he screamed in terror.


The Curse of Frankenstein was an overnight success, launching both Cushing and Lee into a level of world-wide fame they had never previously known. The two men would continue to work together in many films at Hammer Studios, and their names became synonymous with the company. Cushing reprized the role of Baron Victor Frankenstein in five sequels. In the first, The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), his protagonist is sentence to death by guillotine, but he flees and hides under the alias Dr. Stein. He returned for The Evil of Frankenstein (1963), where the Baron has a carnival hypnotist resurrect the monster's inactive brain; and Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), in which the Frankenstein's monster is reincarnated as a woman played by Playboy magazine centerfold model Susan Denberg.


Cushing played the lead role twice more in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1970). The former film originally featured a scene with Cushing's Dr. Frankenstein raping the character played by Veronica Carlson. Neither Carlson nor Cushing wanted to do the scene, and the filming of it was so awkward that director Terence Fisher ended it in mid-session, and the sequence was not used in the final film. In Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Cushing portrayed the Frankenstein doctor as completely mad, a departure from the previous movies. That film featured David Prowse as the monster; the actor would later go on to play Darth Vader alongside Cushing in Sci-Fi classic Star Wars (1977).

Sources: Online Archives & Articles

Last edited by roshiq; 05-28-2011 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 02:33 AM
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Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing in Hammer's Dracula:

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When Hammer Studios sought to adapt Bram Stoker's classic vampire novel Dracula to film, they cast Cushing to play the vampire's arch-nemesis Dr. Van Helsing. Cushing envisioned the character as an idealist warrior for the greater good, and sought to infuse the common decency and good-naturalness he tried to practice in his personal life into the role. Cushing studied the original Stoker novels carefully and adapted several of Van Helsing's characteristics from the books into his performance, including the repeated gesture of raising his index finger to emphasize an important point. Cushing said one of the biggest challenges during filming was not missing whenever he struck a prop stake with a mallet and drove it into a vampire's heart. Dracula/Horror of Dracula was released in 1958, with Cushing once again starring opposite Lee, who played the title character, although Cushing was given top billing. During filming, Cushing himself suggested the staging for the final confrontation scene, in which Van Helsing leaps onto a large dining room table, opens window curtains to weaken Dracula with sunlight, then uses two candlesticks as a makeshift crucifix to hold the vampire off until he dies. As with the Frankenstein films, critics largely panned Dracula for its violence and sexual content, deeming it inferior to the 1931 Universal Studios version. Nevertheless, it performed well at the box office, grossing more than that year's release of Vertigo, which was directed by the famous and popular Alfred Hitchcock.


In 1959, Cushing agreed to reprise the role of Dr. Van Helsing in the sequel, The Brides of Dracula (1960). Before filming began, however, Cushing said he would not participate because he did not like the script written by Jimmy Sangster and Peter Bryan. As a result, screenwriter Edward Percy was brought in to make modifications to the script. Ultimately Cushing agreed to perform, but the rewrites pushed filming into early 1960 and brought additional costs to the production. Cushing was later approached to star in the 1966 sequel, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, but he turned it down due to other commitments. However, Cushing granted permission for his image to be used in the opening scene, which included archived footage from the first Dracula film. In exchange, Hammer Studios surprised Cushing by paying for extensive roofing repair work that had recently been done on Cushing's newly purchased London home. In 1972, Cushing appeared in Dracula A.D. 1972, a Hammer modernization of the Dracula story set in a then-present day 1970s setting. Lee once again starred as Dracula. In the opening scene, Cushing portrays Dr. Van Helsing as he did in the previous films, and the character is killed after a fight with Dracula. The rest of the film jumps forward in time, where Cushing plays the original character's descendant, Lorrimer Van Helsing. Cushing performed many of his own stunts in Dracula A.D. 1972, which included tumbling off a hay wagon during a fight with Dracula. Christopher Neame, who also starred in the film, said he was particularly impressed with Cushing's agility and fitness, considering his age. Cushing and Lee both reprized their respective Dracula roles in the 1974 sequel The Satanic Rites of Dracula, which was known in the United States as Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride. Also that year Cushing played Lawrence Van Helsing, another descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, a co-production between Hammer Studios and the Shaw Brothers Studio, which brought Chinese martial arts into the Dracula story. In that film, Cushing's Van Helsing travels to the Chinese city Chungking, where Count Dracula is heading a vampire cult.

Sources: Online Archives & Articles

Last edited by roshiq; 05-26-2011 at 02:35 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 02:39 AM
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Cushing as Sherlock Holmes:


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In 1959, he portrayed the famous detective Sherlock Holmes in the Hammer Studios production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, an adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel of the same name. He once again co-starred opposite Lee, who portrayed the aristocratic Sir Henry Baskerville. An ardent fan of Sherlock Holmes, Cushing was highly anxious to play the character, and reread the novels in anticipation of the role. Hammer Studios decided to heighten the source novel's horror elements, which upset the estate of Conan Doyle, but Cushing himself voiced no objection to the creative license because he felt the character of Holmes himself remained intact. However, when producer Anthony Hinds proposed removing the character's deerstalker, Cushing insisted they remain because audiences associated Holmes with his headgear and pipes. Cushing prepared extensively for the role, studying the novel and taking notes in his script. He scrutinized the costumes and scoured over screenwriter Peter Bryan's script, often altering words or phrases. Lee later claimed to be awestruck by Cushing's ability to incorporate many different props and actions into his performance simultaneously, whether reading, smoking a pipe, drinking whiskey, filing through papers or other things while portraying Holmes. In later years, Cushing considered his Holmes performance one of the proudest accomplishments of his career. Cushing drew generally mixed reviews. The Hound of the Baskervilles was originally conceived as the first in a series of Sherlock Holmes films, but no sequels were made.


Six years later Starting in 1965, Cushing starred in the fifteen-episode BBC television series Sherlock Holmes, once again reprising his role as the title character. The episodes ran from 1965 to 1968. Douglas Wilmer had previously played Holmes for the BBC,but he turned down the part in this series due to the extremely demanding filming schedule. Fourteen days of rehearsal was originally scheduled for each episode, but they were cut down to ten days for economic reasons. Many actors turned down the role as a result, but Cushing accepted, and the BBC believed his Hammer Studios persona would bring what they called a sense of "lurking horror and callous savagery" to the series. Production lasted from May to December, and Cushing adopted a strict regimen of training, preparation and exercise. He tried to keep his performance identical to his portrayal of Holmes from The Hound of the Baskervilles. Although the series proved popular, Cushing felt he could not give his best performance under the hectic schedule, and he was not pleased with the final result.

Sources: Online Archives & Articles

Last edited by roshiq; 05-28-2011 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:02 AM
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Grew up watching Lee & Cushing. Another actor who never gave a bad performance. Let's not forget his turn as Dr. Who!

Loved him in The Skull and Dr. Terror's House of Horrors ... or whatever it was named.
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:08 AM
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Cushing in Other Hammer Films:


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Although most well-known for his roles in the Frankenstein and Dracula films, Cushing appeared in a wide variety of other Hammer Studios productions during this time. Both he and his wife feared Cushing would become typecast into horror roles, but he continued to take them because he needed the money for Helen, who was in a constant state of poor health and required much medical attention. He appeared in the 1957 horror film The Abominable Snowman, a Hammer Studios adaptation of a BBC Sunday Night Theatre television play from 1955, which Cushing had also starred in. He portrayed an English anthropologist searching the Himalayas for the legendary Yeti. Director Val Guest said he was particularly impressed with Cushing's preparation and ability to plan which props to best use to enhance his performance, so much so that Cushing started to become known as "Props Peter". In 1959, Cushing and Christopher Lee appeared in the Hammer Studios horror film The Mummy, with Cushing as the archaeologist John Banning and Lee as the antagonist Kharis. Cushing saw a promotional poster for The Mummy that showed Lee's character with a large hole in his chest, allowing a beam of light to pass through his body. There was no reference to such an injury in the film, and when he asked the publicity department why it was on the poster, they said it was simply meant to serve as a shocking image to promote the movie. Cushing found this deplorable because he believed audiences would feel cheated. During filming he asked director Terence Fisher for permission to drive a harpoon through the mummy's body during a fight scene, in order to explain the poster image. Fisher agreed, and the scene was used in the film.


Immediately upon completion of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Cushing was offered the lead role in the Hammer film The Man Who Could Cheat Death, originally conceived as a remake of the Oscar Wilde novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Cushing turned it down, in part because he felt he did not have enough time to prepare for the role, in part because he feared becoming typecast into horror films, and in part because he did not like the script by Jimmy Sangster. James Carreras, who sold the film to Paramount Pictures in part based on the strength of Cushing's anticipated participation, was infuriated with the actor and issued a legal threat to him demanding he behave with more circumspection in the future regarding role offerings. The move created a rift between Cushing and Carreras, and contributed to a slight decline in the frequency of Cushing's participation with the studio.

In 1960, Cushing played the Sheriff of Nottingham in the Hammer Studios adventure film Sword of Sherwood Forest, which starred Richard Greene as the legendary outlaw Robin Hood. The next year, Cushing starred as a manager of a bank being robbed in the Hammer Studios thriller film Cash on Demand (1961). Cushing considered this among the favorites of his films and some critics believed it to be among his best performances, although it was one of the least seen films from his career. In 1962, he appeared in the Hammer Studios film Captain Clegg, known in the United States as Night Creatures. Cushing starred as Parson Blyss, the local reverend of an 18th century English coastal town believed to be hiding his smuggling activities with reports of ghosts. The film was roughly based on the Doctor Syn novels by Russell Thorndike. Cushing read Thorndike to prepare for the role, and made suggestions to make-up artist Roy Ashton about Blyss' costume and hairstyle.



Cushing and Lee appeared together in the studio's 1964 horror film The Gorgon, about the female snake-haired Gorgon character from Greek mythology. The next year, Cushing and Lee yet again appeared together in the Hammer film She, about a lost realm ruled by the immortal queen Ayesha, played by Ursula Andress. Cushing later appeared in The Vampire Lovers (1970), an erotic Hammer Studios horror film about lesbian vampires, adapted in part from the Sheridan Le Fanu novella Carmilla. The next year he was set to star in a sequel, Lust for a Vampire, but had to drop out because his wife was ill. His role was filled instead by actor Ralph Bates. Later that year, however, Cushing stared in Twins of Evil, a prequel of sorts to The Vampire Lovers, as Gustav Weil, the leader of a group of religious puritans trying to stamp out witchcraft and satanism. Among his final Hammer roles was Fear in the Night (1972), where he played a one-armed school headmaster apparently terrorizing the protagonist, played by Judy Geeson.

Sources: Online Archives & Articles

Last edited by roshiq; 05-28-2011 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:13 AM
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Thank you for this, Roshiq. Obviously, one of my favorite actors.
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:29 AM
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Cushing in Non-Hammer Studios work:

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Although widely known for his Hammer Studios performances from the 1950s to the 1970s, Cushing worked in a variety of other roles during this time, and actively sought roles outside the horror genre to diversify his work. He continued to perform in occasional stage productions, such as Robert E. MacEnroe's The Silver Whistle at Westminster's Duchess Theatre in 1956. Also that year he appeared in the film Alexander the Great as the Athenian General Memnon of Rhodes. In 1959, Cushing originally planned to appear in the lead role of William Fairchild's play The Sound of Murder, while shooting a film at the same time. The hectic schedule became overbearing for Cushing, who had to drop out of the play and resolved to never again attempt a film and play simultaneously.


He appeared in the biographical epic film John Paul Jones (1959), in which Robert Stack played the title role of the American naval fighter in the American Revolutionary War. In 1960, Cushing played Robert Knox in The Flesh and the Fiends, based on the true story of a doctor who purchased human corpses for research from the serial killer duo Burke and Hare. Cushing had previously stated Knox was one of his role models in developing his portrayal of Baron Frankenstein. The film was called Mania in its American release. Cushing appeared in several films in 1961, including Fury at Smugglers' Bay, an adventure film about pirates scavenging ships off the English coastline; The Hellfire Club, where he played a lawyer helping a young man expose a cult; and The Naked Edge, a British-American thriller about a woman who suspects her husband framed another man for murder.
In 1965, he portrayed Dr. Who in two science fiction films by AARU Productions based on the cult British television series, Doctor Who. Although Cushing's protagonist was based on the Doctor from that series, his portrayal of the character was fundamentally different, most especially in the fact that Cushing's Dr. Who was a human, whereas the original Doctor was extraterrestrial. As the films were oriented more toward children than the series was, Cushing's portrayal of the doctor was kinder and more lovable than past incarnations, which was in part an effort on the actor's part to move away from his typical horror persona. Cushing played the role in Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. (1966).

Cushing appeared in a handful of horror films by the independent Amicus Productions, including Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), as a man who could see into the future using tarot cards; The Skull (1965), as a professor who became possessed by a spiritual force embodied within a skull; and Torture Garden (1967), as a collector of Edgar Allan Poe relics who is robbed and murdered for an unpublished Poe manuscript. Cushing also appeared in non-Amicus horror films like Island of Terror (1966) and The Blood Beast Terror (1968), in both of which he investigates a series of mysterious murders. Cushing considered The Blood Beast Terror the worst film he ever acted in. Also in 1968, he appeared in Corruption, a film that was billed as so horrific that "no woman will be admitted alone" into theaters to see it. In Corruption, Cushing played a surgeon who attempts to restore the beauty of his fiancee (played by Sue Lloyd), whose face is horribly scarred in an accident.


"Peter, you are unaware of your own value, and what your name means to people. They will be only too glad to have you work for them. You'll see."―Peter Cushing's wife, Helen, encouraging him to seek television work during a struggling period of his career.


Cushing and Lee made cameos as their old roles of Dr. Frankenstein and the monster in the 1970 comedy One More Time, which starred Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis, Jr. The single scene took only one morning of filming, which Cushing agreed to after Davis asked him to do it as a favor.


The next year, Cushing appeared in I, Monster (1971), which was adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and featured Christopher Lee in the title dual role. During this time, Cushing's wife Helen was in extremely poor health and, to ensure he could spend time with her, Cushing began taking a milk-train home rather than risk getting stuck in traffic by driving the long commute. Later that year he was set to appear in Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971), an adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel The Jewel of Seven Stars. He was forced to withdraw from the film to care for Helen, and was ultimately replaced by Andrew Keir.

The Star in Star Wars

In 1976, he was cast in Star Wars, which was shooting at Elstree Studios, Borehamwood. He appeared as one of his (now) most recognized characters, Grand Moff Tarkin, despite having originally been considered for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Cushing found accepting the role in a science fiction fantasy easy. "My criterion for accepting a role isn't based on what I would like to do. I try to consider what the audience would like to see me do and I thought kids would adore Star Wars."



During production Cushing was presented with ill-fitting riding boots for the role and they pinched his feet so much that he was given permission by George Lucas to play the role wearing his slippers. The camera operators filmed him above the knees or standing behind the table of the conference room set.

"Cushing turned the part of Baron Frankenstein into a myth of his own, a persona which would forever be connected with the actor's chilling likeness. Cold and calculating, his Baron would be a distant cousin to Grand Moff Tarkin"
―Star Wars Insider writer Constantine Nasr.


Sources: Online Archives & Articles

Last edited by roshiq; 05-28-2011 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:38 AM
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Peter Cushing was known among his colleagues for his gentle and gentlemanly demeanor, as well as his professionalism and rigorous preparation as an actor. Several filmmakers and actors have claimed to be influenced by Peter Cushing, including actor Douglas Bradley (Pinhead in the Hellraiser horror films, and John Carpenter (even Cushing turned down the role of Dr. Sam Loomis for Halloween). Director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp both said the portrayal of Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow was intended to resemble that of Cushing's old horror film performances. Cushing was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1989 Queen's Honours List for his services to drama. In 2008, fourteen years after his death, Cushing's image was used in a set of stamps issued by the Royal Mail honoring Hammer Studios films on the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Dracula.


In an interview on the DVD release of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Christopher Lee remarked on his friend's death: "I don't want to sound gloomy, but, at some point of your lives, every one of you will notice that you have in your life one person, one friend whom you love and care for very much. That person is so close to you that you are able to share some things only with him. For example, you can call that friend, and from the very first maniacal laugh or some other joke you will know who is at the other end of that line. We used to do that with him so often. And then when that person is gone, there will be nothing like that in your life ever again".


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Last edited by roshiq; 05-26-2011 at 04:53 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:43 AM
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Notable quotes of Cushing:



"As for that old blood-sucker Dracula, whatever I did to get rid of him, he would keep turning up again, like a bad penny. There was no stopping him - a glutton for punishment as well as gore."

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

"You have to have a sense of humor, darling, to be alive. Even a bit mad. It helps to be mad."


"People look at me as if I were some sort of monster, but I can't think why. In my macabre pictures, I have either been a monster-maker or a monster-destroyer, but never a monster. Actually, I'm a gentle fellow. Never harmed a fly. I love animals, and when I'm in the country I'm a keen bird-watcher." - ABC Film Review (Nov 1964)

"You cannot make a film like this without integrity. To make the audiences believe in you, you must believe utterly in what you are doing." - (1972)


"It gives me the most wonderful feeling. These dear people love me so much and want to see me. The astonishing thing is that when I made the "Frankenstein" and "Dracula" movies almost 30 years ago the young audiences who see me now weren't even born yet. A new generation has grown up with my films. And the original audiences are still able to see me in new pictures. So, as long as these films are made I will have a life in this business -- for which I'm eternally grateful." (from a 1985 "Starlog" interview)

"When Helen passed on six years ago I lost the only joy in life that I ever wanted. She was my whole life and without her there is no meaning. I am simply killing time, so to speak, until that wonderful day when we are together again."

Sir, wherever you are...we believe once again you're having a wonderful time with your beloved wife in the eternal life of happiness. We miss you greatly but you'll always have a special place in our heart as well as in our limitless world of imagination & great creativity.

Happy Birthday, Sir!




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