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Hammer horror king Cushing dies of cancer

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1994-08-12 Irish Independent.jpg


PETER CUSHING, one of the most beloved figures in the history of the horror film, died yesterday of prostate cancer at a hospice in Surrey.

The 81-year-old actor, who first appeared on stage in 1935, worked cosstantly in the cinema, theatre and television throughout a long and distinguished career.

Cushing had appeared in a series or big budget movies — many of them period pieces — before he was offered the part of the title character in The Curse Of Frankenstein by Hammer Films in 1957.

The movie, largely made in Hammer's south of England studios, was a worldwide success and it was followed by The Horror Of Dracula, an even bigger hit. This cast Cushing as Van Helsing, the vampire hunter who seemed to spend Ma life in pursuit of the "undead".

Cushing's Van Helsing was heroic, driven and surprisingly athletic. It is a tribute to his skill that he could be much more convincing in the role than Laurence Oliver in the 1979 Dracula or Anthony Hopkins in last year's Francis Coppola version of the Bram Stoker story.

Following Cushing's 1957 success, a sequence of Frankenstein and Dracula films followed, establishing Cushing and his colleague and friend Christopher Lee as two of the stalwarts of the British horror film.

Christopher Lee was among the first to pay tribute last night. "I have lost a wonderful friend."

They last worked together only weeks ago when Cushing and Lee recorded a soundtrack for the Hammer video Flesh and Blood.

It was to be Peter Cushing's last work because he already knew he bad not long to live.

"His mind was as sharp so ever, even though he was obviosly very frail. He was a great fighter having suffered rom much illness over many years. 1 did know that he had gone into hospital and felt, from what I was told, that he was probably near the end.

"Since the death of his wife in 1971 he only wanted to join her. and I think it is only now that he is really happy."

Lee said he would particularly miss their "hilarious" telephone conversations.

Once the joint fame of he and Lee spread, Cushing alternated appearances in She opposite Ursula Andress, The Mummy, The Hound Of The Baskervillea, and he later co-starred in a slew of horror portmanteau pictures, several of them with Vincent Price.

Cushing, who had a reputation a gentleman and a quiet and committed professional, even did a stint as Dr Who in two spin-offs from the popular BBC television series in the mid-'60s

His other credits include Moulin Rouge for director John Huston, The Black Knight, Alexander The Great, The Abominable Snowman and, as many Leaving Cert students will know, as a florid, bat-waving Orsic in Laurence Oliver's award-winning film version of Hamlet.

On televiaton he started in ground-breaking adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 and in Hollywood made a high-profile appearance as the Grand Muff Tarkin in Star Wars in 1977, and followed it with The House Of The Long Shadows, Monster Island, Rules and an Sherlock Holmes again in The Masks Of Death in 1985.

But he will be beat remembered for the Hammer films, to which he brought credibility, great feeling and an unerring sense of cinema.

The veteran English critic Dilys Powell once said that any movie that had Peter Cushing in it couldn't be all bad. The slight, gaunt-raced actor had few rivals in the recent history of horror/fantasy cinema

Caption: Peter Cushing: dead at 81

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  • APA 6th ed.: Molloy, Philip (1994-08-12). Hammer horror king Cushing dies of cancer. Irish Independent p. 11.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Molloy, Philip. "Hammer horror king Cushing dies of cancer." Irish Independent [add city] 1994-08-12, 11. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Molloy, Philip. "Hammer horror king Cushing dies of cancer." Irish Independent, edition, sec., 1994-08-12
  • Turabian: Molloy, Philip. "Hammer horror king Cushing dies of cancer." Irish Independent, 1994-08-12, section, 11 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Hammer horror king Cushing dies of cancer | url= | work=Irish Independent | pages=11 | date=1994-08-12 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=3 December 2022 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Hammer horror king Cushing dies of cancer | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=3 December 2022}}</ref>