15 July 2024

Everyone's favorite vampire hunter and one of Hammer's premier performers was born in 1913 in Surrey, England.

Following a stint in a repertory company, Cushing set out for Hollywood in his mid twenties. His first film appearances were in The Man in the Iron Mask and A Chump at Oxford.

After being cast as Osric in Laurence Olivier's 1948 adaptation of Hamlet, Cushing turned to the BBC, where he worked steadfastly throughout the first half of the '50s.

Indeed, it was 1954's production of Orwell's 1984 that garnered Cushing a British Television Actor of the Year award.

Three years later, it was on to Hammer's 1957 The Curse of Frankenstein and the role that launched Cushing into a long career of horror roles...some as the protector of good, others as the centerpiece villain. But always, Cushing brought an elegance to his work.

As Baron Victor Frankenstein in six of Hammer's seven Frankenstein entries, Cushing imbibed the character with a strange barbaric gentility, at once both the frenzied butcher and the sympathetic anti-hero.

Not content with fleshing out only one famous literary figure, Cushing turned to the side of right as he carved out the role of vampire killer Dr.Van Helsing for himself in a half dozen Hammer fang flicks. They ranged from 1958's classic Horror of Dracula all the way to 1974's last death spasm in the series, Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires.

The '50s and '60s were a concentrated smorgasbord of horror work for Cushing. Along with Christopher Lee, Cushing was one of Hammer Studio's chief players and appeared in literally most of their seminal pieces, from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1958) to The Brides of Dracula (1960) to Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) to Twins of Evil (1971).

Cushing plowed on into the seventies, including such genre credits as Tales of the Crypt and The Creeping Flesh (both 1972). But yes, kiddies, it was his sinister portrayal of Grand Moff Tarkin in George Lucas' 1977 pop culture-changer Star Wars that put Cushing smack dab in front of a whole new generation.

His work tapered off slowly in the '80s but Cushing appeared in several final scarefests, including 1983's House of Long Shadows. In addition, he returned as Sherlock Holmes in The Masks of Death (1984).

One of the key dominant players in the world of film terror, always true to his nickname "the gentleman of horror," Cushing consistently brought a unique presence and formal grace to all his roles.

Dr. Van Helsing drove his last stake through our hearts in 1994. He died that year in England of prostate cancer.

Asylum 1972
The Beast Must Die 1974
The Creeping Flesh 1973
The Curse of Frankenstein 1957
Dracula 1957
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors 1965
The Flesh & the Fiends 1959
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell 1974
From Beyond the Grave 1973
The Ghoul 1975
The Gorgon 1964
Horror Express 1972
The House that Dripped Blood 1970
Island of Terror 1966
The Revenge of Frankenstein 1958
The Satanic Rites of Dracula 1974
Scream and Scream Again 1969
Shock Waves 1977
The Skull 1965
Tales From the Crypt 1972
Twins of Evil 1971
The Uncanny 1977
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