Peter Cushing

Born in May of 1914, Peter Cushing devoted himself to acting in the mid-1930s. He soon turned from the stage to film, and left England for the United States in 1937. He quickly gained respect in Hollywood, both as an actor and as a man of great intelligence and integrity.

Born in May of 1914, Peter Cushing devoted himself to acting in the mid-1930s. He soon turned from the stage to film, and left England for the United States in 1937. He quickly gained respect in Hollywood, both as an actor and as a man of great intelligence and integrity.

In 1942, Cushing returned to England. Turned down for military service, he instead joined a theatre company that performed at military bases. Cushing came to work with actress Helen Beck, and the two fell deeply in love. They married in 1943.

In the early 1950s, Cushing emerged as one of British television’s most popular actors. It was in 1956, however, that Cushing guided his career down the path that he is most remembered for. He was cast as Baron Victor Frankenstein in Hammer’s adaptation of Mary Shelly’s novel, “Frankenstein.” He would play the Baron in several sequels, as well as portray Dr. Van Helsing in the Dracula series, and a number of other dashing heroes and scheming villains in 22 films from Hammer over the next 17 years. He also appeared in movies from other studios and returned to British television as Sherlock Holmes.

In 1971, Cushing’s beloved wife Helen died after a prolonged illness. It was a loss from which he never fully recovered. He threw himself into his work, but spent most private hours dreaming of when he and Helen would be reunited in the hereafter.

In 1976, Cushing gave the performance that many Gen-Xers and youngsters know him for; the cold-hearted Grand Moff Tarkin. It would be his last major part on film, although he would do a handful of other television roles, including reprising his Sherlock Holmes.

In 1982, Cushing was diagnosed with cancer. He was given 18 months to live.
However, he lived an additional 12 years, a time during which he continued to work in film and television, wrote a two-volume autobiography, produced two volumes of caricatures/character studies of other patrons in the Tudor Tea Rooms of Whitstable, and wrote and illustrated a children’s book.

In August of 1994, Cushing’s health finally failed, and he passed away.