Hey El Moochadores! Today would have been actor Peter Cushing’s 100th birthday, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the life of the man who portrayed iconic characters (like Grand Moff Tarkin, Van Helsing, and Dr. Who) than by reading author David Millers biography; Peter Cushing – A Life in Film!
Miller’s book dives deep into Cushing’s career as an actor and gives Peter Cushing fans insights into the life of a gifted actor who could portray the best of heroes or the most vile villains ever to appear on screen. Published by Titan Books; Miller’s biography starts with a forward from Veronica Carlson (a former Cushing co-star) and then continues on with a wonderful combination of narrative, personal letters, and photos to tell us about a man who was friendly, sensitive, and an ideal professional.
As I read A life in Film, I felt inspired by all that Cushing had accomplished. He struggled to make a career for himself (at one point he was declared a failure by his father) but he never stopped doing what he loved. In the mid 1950’s he began working with Hammer films and would achieve huge success portraying characters like Sherlock Holmes, Van Helsing, and Dr. Frankestien. All of his work for Hammer Films is extensively covered and fans of the old horror genre (like Atomic Moo’s creator Chudd) will love the stories of Cushing working with Christopher Lee and (at times) Vincent Price. A Life in Film also delved deep into Cushing’s private life. As readers, we get to learn about a man who valued his privacy, hobbies (Cushing loved to collect minitures and paint watercolors), and we can read about the love he felt for his wife Helen, who’s 1971 passing had a devastating effect on the actor.
I really couldn’t recommend this book enough, and, among the many (many!) books I’ve read this last year, this has been one of my favorites. If you’re a fan of classic cinema, theater, a would be actor, artist, or classic sci-fi and horror fan, you’ll want this book in your personal library! Peter Cushing died August 11, 1994 at the age of 81.
Below I’ve posted a few sample images from the book and the books synopsis (as per the Titan Books Web page). I’ve also include a video showing Peter Cushing having a rose named after his wife, Helen.
Peter Cushing was an unforgettable presence in cult cinema of the fifties, sixties and seventies, and remains one of Britain’s best-loved film stars. Cushing made a huge impact in the groundbreaking television adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four, and went on to find international fame as Baron Frankenstein and Doctor Van Helsing in the most acclaimed films from the Hammer house of horror. During his lengthy career, Cushing also played Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes and Grand Moff Tarkin, the villain of the original Star Wars.
Author David Miller has written a definitive guide to the stage and screen career of a legendary star, drawing upon conversations with Cushing’s friends and colleagues, archive material held by the BBC and Hammer Film Productions, and previously unpublished correspondence with Cushing himself. This in-depth research forms the basis for a revealing re-assessment of the career and achievements of this much admired and very private actor.