Peter Wilton Cushing
(May 26, 1913 — August 11, 1994) was an English actor famous for his roles in Horror films. He starred opposite Christopher Lee
as Victor Frankenstein in the 1957 Hammer Horror
film The Curse of Frankenstein
and as Van Helsing in 1958's Dracula
(called Horror of Dracula
in the US). The two would become lifelong friends and appear together in films throughout the years. He is also recognisable for playing Grand Moff Tarkin in the first Star Wars
film A New Hope
(he'd also been considered to play Obi-Wan Kenobi), where he was apparently allowed to play the role in his slippers because the uniform boots didn't fit him. He also played Doctor Whonote
in two non-canon films
, Dr. Who and the Daleks
and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.
Before he was launched by Hammer, Cushing appeared with Laurel and Hardy
in A Chump at Oxford
and played the small part of Osric in Laurence Olivier
's 1948 film of Hamlet
, as well as several notable roles in television, including Winston Smith in the 1954 adaptation of 1984
and Darcy in the 1952 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice
. He returned to television several times after his film career took off, starring as Lije Bailey in a 1964 adaptation of Isaac Asimov
's The Caves of Steel
and Sherlock Holmes
in the 1968 TV series. He also appeared several times with Morecambe and Wise
, complaining that he hadn't been paid for the first time.
He was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1989.
He died of prostate cancer on the 11th of August, 1994, aged 81. In an interview after his death Christopher Lee remarked: "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".
Cushing was often a Mean Character Nice Actor
, in that he often played characters who were either very driven or villanous, but Cushing in Real Life
was a very kindly gentleman who was devoted to his wife
and friends. Near the end of his life, he was given a surprise by Jimmy Savile
on his show Jim'll Fix It
— a breed of rose was named after his late wife. It caused him to burst into tears on camera. Carrie Fisher
recalls that she could not generate the level of hatred that Princess Leia would have been feeling towards Grand Moff Tarkin, because Fisher had to deliver those lines to Cushing, particularly the line about "recognizing [his] foul stench" when Cushing smelled pleasantly of lavender.