Donald Pleasence (October 5, 1919 — February 2, 1995) was an English actor who was credited in over 200 movie and TV appearances during a career which spanned over four decades. He was often typecast as villainous and/or psychopathic characters, and created the definitive Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond film series. Halloween changed his on-screen image to a more heroic one, although still sometimes ruthless or creepy.
His filmography includes:
- A Tale of Two Cities (1958), as John Barsad.
- The Great Escape (1963), as "The Forger."
- Fantastic Voyage (1966), as Dr. Michaels.
- The Hallelujah Trail (1965), as Oracle Jones.
- Eye of the Devil (1967), as Pere Dominic
- You Only Live Twice (1967), as Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
- The Night Of The Generals as General Klaus Kahlenberge
- THX 1138 (1971), as SEN.
- The scary PSA Lonely Waters (1973), as the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water.
- Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), as Lucas Deranian.
- Telefon (1977) as Nikolai Dalchimsky.
- The Halloween series (1978-1995), as Dr Sam Loomis.
- Dracula (1979), Dr. Seward
- Puma Man (1980), as Kobras.
- Escape from New York (1981), as the president.
- Alone in the Dark (1982), as Dr. Bain.
- Warriorofthe Lost World (1983), as Prossor.
- Phenomena (1985), as Prof. McGregor.
- Prince of Darkness (1987), as a priest.
- The Hour Of The Pig (1993) as the public prosecutor Pincheon.
- The Thief and the Cobbler (1995), as Phido the Vulture. (The version titled Arabian Knight replaced him with Eric Bogosian. His voice is still present as the few lines not done by Jonathan Winters as the Thief)
Tropes about Donald Pleasence:
- Bald of Evil: The Trope Codifier.
- Creepy Blue Eyes/Icy Blue Eyes
- I Am Not Leonard Nimoy: Invoked in the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 treatment of Puma Man; Mike and the Bots insist on referring to Donald Pleasance's character as "Donald Pleasance." This may have been partly to tease him for a role he openly admits is an Old Shame.
- Missing Episode: The Halloween episode of Saturday Night Live he hosted back in 1981 hasn't been seen on American TV since then, because of the musical guest's (a punk rock group named Fear) raucous performance (which included guitar smashing and mosh pits) and all the sketches containing humor that was considered dark and disgusting at the time. Netflix had the episode on its Saturday Night Live: The 1980s collection (which has all the episodes from seasons 6note to 15note ), albeit edited down to 27 minutes (meaning most of the sketches and the notorious musical performances by Fear have been cut). Sadly, it's not there anymore.
- Money, Dear Boy:
"There was a sort of horror picture that I did called The Mutations. I think I did that solely for the money. I have six daughters, and they can be quite expensive, so one has to keep working and be able to pay the bills."
- Old Shame: It shouldn't be surprising Donald once declared Puma Man the worst movie he was ever part of.
- Shown Their Work: The makers went to great lengths to accurately build a German POW camp for The Great Escape. Of course, it did help that several of the actors had been prisoners of war during WW2. Pleasence, who had been in a German POW camp, made a few suggestions to John Sturges, who wasn't aware of that fact, and was told to keep his opinions to himself. However, when the director learned that Pleasence knew what he was talking about, he was asked for advice all the time.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Pleasence only played Ernst Stavro Blofeld once in the James Bond series (in You Only Live Twice, where he was a hurried replacement for the originally-cast actor and his face is only revealed in the last twenty minutes), which is surprising considering how definitive his take on the ultimate Big Bad of the film series became.
- Stock Shout-Out: Just about every James Bond parody in any medium will base the villain on his version of Blofeld.