Richard Todd

Discussion in 'Memorials & Cemeteries' started by Kitty, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    The actor and WW2 veteran of the DDay Parachute landings has died today after a long fight with cancer. He was probably best known for his portrayal of Wing Commander Guy Gibson in the original Dambusters film, and his roles in The Yangtze Incident and playing his CO in The Longest Day. Taken from Wikipedia:

  2. sniper

    sniper Active Member

    What a pity as he is going to miss the re-make of The Dambusters.

    Sniper :noidea:
  3. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    I'm sure he'll be there, just like all the Dambusters will be.
  4. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    He did it for real and for the cameras.

  5. John

    John Active Member

    Rest In Peace - Richard Todd, a fine actor and a brave soldier
  6. CXX

    CXX New Member

    Richard Todd

    Richard Todd, the actor, who died on December 3 aged 90, was one of the first British officers to land in Normandy in advance of the main D-Day landings and went on to become Britain's highest-earning matinee idol of the post-war years; his most memorable role was that of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, in The Dam Busters (1955), a film he carried with the help of Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis.

    Handsome, blue-eyed and with an erect military bearing, Todd enjoyed the unusual distinction of appearing in films about D-Day in which the role of his wartime self was played by other actors.

    As an officer in the 7th (Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion, he had not only been one of the first to land in Normandy, he had also been among the first to meet the glider force, under the command of Major John Howard, defending Pegasus Bridge, a scene memorably recreated in two epic films in which Todd later starred. In D-Day, the Sixth of June (1956), he played the commanding officer of his unit who vies for the affections of Dana Wynter with his Yank rival Robert Taylor.

    In The Longest Day (1962), which was based on the book of the same name by the Telegraph special war correspondent Cornelius Ryan, Todd took the role of Howard, performing one scene opposite the actor playing himself (a role he turned down because "I did not do anything special that would make a good sequence").

    "I was, in effect, standing beside myself talking to myself," he noted. At a cost of $8 million, The Longest Day was the most expensive black and white film made until Schindler's List.

    Immediately after the war Todd gained fame on the London stage for his portrayal of "Lachie" MacLachlan, the wounded soldier protagonist of John Patrick's The Hasty Heart, and won praise when he replaced Richard Basehart in the role on Broadway.

    He returned to England to appear in the Warner Brothers film adaptation of the play (co-starring Ronald Reagan, who became a personal friend); was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in 1949; and won a Golden Globe the following year. In America, he also won critical acclaim for his touching portrayal of US Senate chaplain Peter Marshall in Henry Koster's A Man Called Peter (1955).

    Richard Andrew Palethorpe-Todd was born in Dublin on June 11 1919 into an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family. His father was a British Army physician who had gained three caps for Ireland at rugby before the First World War; his mother was a noted beauty and horsewoman. The family moved to Devon when Richard was very young, although due to his father's Army commitments a few of his childhood years were spent in India.

    Richard's mother wanted him to make a career in the Diplomatic Service, but he set his sights on becoming a playwright. After Shrewsbury School he enrolled at the Italia Conti Academy to "learn something about the theatre".

    There, instead of becoming a writer, he caught the acting bug. His chosen career path, he recalled in later life, led to a rift with his mother so deep that when he learned, aged 19, that she had committed suicide, he did not waste time grieving, having lost all affection for her.

    In his autobiography, Caught in the Act (1986), Todd recalled that, while training as an actor, he appeared in the crowd scenes for two Will Hay movies and as an extra in A Yank at Oxford (1938). But the main focus of his ambition was the stage. After leaving drama school he performed in regional rep and in 1939 joined the newly-founded Dundee Repertory Theatre.

    The Second World War temporarily prevented Todd from advancing his career. He volunteered the day after war was declared and was commissioned in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1941. In 1943 he applied to become a parachutist, and in May of that year was posted to the 7th Parachute Battalion – part of the 6th Airborne Division. For the Normandy landings, he was appointed assistant adjutant.

    In a later article about his D-Day experiences Todd compared the pre-briefing for the landings to "the readthrough and cast list for a new production at the Dundee Rep", and likened himself to an actor who had just been "told the minor role I was to play" after having been "subjected to a four-year rehearsal for the big first night". Yet throughout those years he had kept his profession secret, terrified that he might be put in charge of the Entertainments National Service Association: "Not even my closest friends knew I was an actor."

    After the war Todd rejoined Dundee Rep before making his West End debut in The Hasty Heart. In 1948 he was invited to London for a screen test and won a film contract with Associated British Pictures.

    After making his screen debut in For Them That Trespass (1948) and triumphing in The Hasty Heart, Todd travelled to Hollywood to appear as a bridegroom with a murky past in King Vidor's Lightning Strikes Twice (1950), then starred as Marlene Dietrich's former lover – and a murder suspect – in Hitchcock's Stage Fright (1950).

    There followed an orgy of swashbuckling heroics in Disney's The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952), The Sword and the Rose (1953) and Rob Roy, The Highland Rogue (1954), all of which served only to prove that Todd was no Errol Flynn.

    His role as Peter Marshall in A Man Called Peter persuaded Henry Koster to cast Todd in his Virgin Queen (1955) as a roguish Sir Walter Raleigh, whose dalliance with lady-in-waiting Joan Collins angers Elizabeth I (Bette Davis). Koster then cast him in D-Day, the Sixth of June the following year.

    The Dam Busters (1954) marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration with the director Michael Anderson. Todd went on to appear in Anderson's Yangtse Incident (1956) as the commander of a crippled frigate breaking a Chinese blockade, and in the Hitchcock-style Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958) he played the mysterious stranger claiming to be the late brother of the heiress Kimberley Prescott (Anne Baxter). He returned as a wing commander (this time named Kendall) for their last film together, Operation Crossbow (1965).

    Todd worked with a variety of other directors. He was the leader of the escape committee in Don Chaffey's PoW camp movie The Danger Within (1959), and in Leslie Norman's The Long and the Short and the Tall (1961) he played the leader of an Army patrol sent out into the Malaysian jungle. The same year he produced as well as starred in the bedroom farce Why Bother to Knock?

    Todd was Ian Fleming's first choice to play James Bond in Dr No (1962), but a scheduling clash gave the role to Sean Connery. Instead he played Inspector Harry Sanders in Lawrence Huntington's Death Drums Along The River (1963), a role he reprised in Coast of Skeletons the following year. In a rather more unlikely casting, he played a counter-culture hippie guru professor in The Love-Ins (1967).

    By the late 1960s Todd's star had waned, and his later film parts were mostly forgettable, with the possible exception of Michael Winner's remake of The Big Sleep (1978), in which he played the police commissioner opposite Robert Mitchum's Philip Marlowe.

    From the mid-1960s Todd resumed his stage career, appearing in the West End as Lord Goring in An Ideal Husband (Strand, 1965) and as Nicholas Randolph in Dodie Smith's Dear Octopus (Haymarket, 1967).

    In 1970 he founded Triumph Theatre Productions, with which he toured extensively abroad in many plays. In 1974 he toured America in two RSC "entertainments", The Hollow Crown and Pleasure and Repentance. In the 1980s he played the lead for eight unbroken years in Richard Harris's Business of Murder at the Mayfair Theatre.

    Todd had made his television debut in 1953, as Heathcliff in a BBC adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Nigel Kneale, who scripted the adaptation, recalled that the production came about because the actor had turned up at the BBC and announced that he would like to play the role. Such was Todd's celebrity at the time that Kneale was told to get the script prepared in a week as the broadcast was rushed into production.

    Later, Todd appeared in such series as Virtual Murder; Silent Witness; Holby City; Murder, She Wrote; and in the Doctor Who story Kinda in 1982. He was General Benjamin Cutler in the television miniseries Jenny's War (1985), and played Lord Roberts of Kandahar in the miniseries Sherlock Holmes and the Incident at Victoria Falls (1992, featuring Christopher Lee as Sherlock Holmes and Patrick Macnee as Dr Watson).

    After retirement Todd worked as a volunteer for Age Concern, supported the Royal British Legion and was a popular speaker at charity functions and military commemorations, raising huge sums for charity. His interests included the countryside; for many years he lived near Chipping Camden in Gloucestershire. Later moving to Little Ponton in Lincolnshire, he was appointed OBE in 1993.

    Todd was twice married, first to the actress Catherine Grant-Bogle, with whom he had a son and a daughter, and secondly to Virginia Mailer, a model with whom he had two sons. Both marriages were dissolved.

    In 1997 Todd returned to public attention under tragic circumstances when Seamus, his 20-year-old son by his second marriage, killed himself with a shotgun. In a series of articles written for The Sunday Times the actor ascribed the death to the "predicament that so many young people find themselves in nowadays, forced to live miserably, unhealthily, and in debt in order to achieve a university degree that is no longer even a fairly sure guarantee of employment at any level."

    The tragedy of losing one son was compounded in 2005, when Peter, his eldest son by his first marriage, also shot himself dead following the break-up of his marriage.

    In a subsequent interview, Todd likened the process of coming to terms with these tragedies to the experience of war: "You don't consciously set out to do something gallant. You just do it because that is what you are there for. It is your country. And you just get on with it." He returned to the battlefield itself on several occasions.

    Richard Todd's two remaining children survive him.

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