Peter Wilton Cushing, OBE (26 May 1913 – 11 August 1994) was an English actor best known for his roles in the Hammer Productions horror films of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, as well as his performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars (1977).
Spanning over six decades, his acting career included appearances in more than 100 films, as well as many television, stage and radio roles.
Born in Kenley, Surrey, Cushing made his stage debut in 1935 and spent three years at a repertory theatre before moving to Hollywood to pursue a film career.
After making his motion picture debut in the 1939 film The Man in the Iron Mask, Cushing began to find modest success in American films before returning to England at the outbreak of the Second World War.
Despite performing in a string of roles, including one as Osric in Laurence Olivier's film adaptation of Hamlet (1948), Cushing struggled greatly to find work during this period and began to consider himself a failure.
His career was revitalized once he started to work in live television plays, and he soon became one of the most recognizable faces in British television.
He earned particular acclaim for his lead performance in a 1954 adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Cushing gained worldwide fame for his appearances in twenty-two horror films by the independent Hammer Productions, particularly for his role as Baron Frankenstein in six of their seven Frankenstein films, and Doctor Van Helsing in five Dracula films.
Cushing often appeared alongside actor Christopher Lee, who became one of his closest friends, and occasionally with the American horror star Vincent Price.
Cushing appeared in several other Hammer films, including The Abominable Snowman, The Mummy and The Hound of the Baskervilles, the last of which marked the first of many times he portrayed the famous detective Sherlock Holmes throughout his career.
Cushing continued to perform a variety of roles, although he was often typecast as a horror film actor.
He played Dr.
Who in Dr.
Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.
(1966) and gained the highest amount of visibility in his career in 1977, when he appeared as Grand Moff Tarkin in the first Star Wars film.
Cushing continued acting into his later years, and wrote two autobiographies.
He was married to Helen Cushing for 28 years before she died in 1971.