Peter Cushing

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Peter Cushing Pencil Portrait
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A prolific presence in films and on television for nearly five decades, British actor Peter Cushing, OBE, became an international icon as the star of countless horror films, including Curse of Frankenstein (1956), Horror of Dracula (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), The Mummy (1959), The Vampire Lovers (1970) and Horror Express (1973). Frequently cast opposite his longtime friend, Sir Christopher Lee, Cushing gave definitive portrayals of monster maker Victor Frankenstein and vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing for England’s Hammer Films throughout the ’60s and ’70s, while appearing in numerous other horror films for international companies.

A magnetic and always-believable screen presence, his roles for Hammer became the stuff of horror movie legend, yet his versatility is perhaps best illustrated in an overlooked early 60’s gem of a British B movie Cash on Demand.” As the fastidious, autocratic provincial bank manager targeted by Andre Morell’s duplicitous thief and forced to assist him in a meticulously planned robbery, Cushing’s performance is first rate, his character’s OCD-wracked nerves tested to their limit by his adversary’s efficient cruelty and threats against his family………………..

By 1961 when Cushing filmed “Cash on Demand,” he had been working in the theatre and films for over twenty five years. In the late ’30s and early ’40s, whilst he might have made films in Hollywood with figures such as Laurel and Hardy, he was also known as a serious actor, and even appeared in Laurence Olivier’s Gothic film version of “Hamlet” in 1948. By the ’50s, however, Cushing was dividing his time between Hollywood historical films such “The Black Knight” (1954) with Alan Ladd, and “Alexander the Great” (1956) with Richard Burton on the one hand, and prestigious BBC television dramas on the other.

The production that was central to his casting in “The Curse of Frankenstein” was his starring role as Winston Smith in the Nigel Kneale adaptation of “1984.” This small screen adaptation from 1954 was highly controversial, and is often referred to as an early example of television horror.

Recommended viewing

1984 (BBC Tv) 1954

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

Cash on Demand (1961)

Recommended reading

Peter Cushing - The Complete Memoirs

Two previous volumes of Cushing memoirs – ‘An Autobiography’ (1986) and ‘Past Forgetting,’ (1988) now combined in one engrossing read.

The Unknown Peter Cushing (Michael McGlasson) 2011


The Peter Cushing Association