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Peter Finch Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (16) | Personal Quotes (7)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 28 September 1916South Kensington, London, England, UK
Date of Death 14 January 1977Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameFrederick George Peter Ingle-Finch
Nickname Finchie
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Despite being one of the finest actors of his generation, Peter Finch will be remembered as much for his reputation as a hard-drinking, hell-raising womanizer as for his performances on the screen. He was born in London in 1916 and went to live in Sydney, Australia, at the age of ten. There, he worked in a series of dead-end jobs before taking up acting, his film debut being in the mediocre comedy The Farmer Goes to Town (1938). He made his stage debut as a comedian's stooge in 1939. Laurence Olivier spotted him and persuaded him to return to Britain to perform classic roles on the stage. Finch then had an affair with Olivier's wife, Vivien Leigh. Despite being married three times, Finch also had highly-publicized affairs with actresses Kay Kendall and Mai Zetterling. Finch soon switched to film after suffering appalling stage fright. As a screen actor, he won five BAFTA awards and his talent was beyond doubt. His two finest roles, the only two for which he received Oscar nominations, were as the homosexual Jewish doctor in Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) and as the "mad prophet of the air-waves" in Network (1976). He died a couple of months before being awarded the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in Network (1976) and was the first actor to have won the award posthumously.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: David Claydon <dc6212@bristol.ac.uk>

Spouse (3)

Eletha Finch (9 November 1973 - 14 January 1977) (his death) (1 child)
Yolande Turner (4 July 1959 - 11 November 1965) (divorced) (2 children)
Tamara Tchinarova Finch (21 April 1943 - 17 June 1959) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (16)

Peter Finch's widow, Jamaican-born Eletha Finch, accepted his Oscar, posthumously, before the Academy.
Entombed at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California -- Cathedral Mausoleum, Corridor A, Crypt 1224 (Across From Rudolph Valentino).
Suffered from fear of flying.
He was the natural son of Major Jock Campbell, a Highlander in the Black Watch and Alicia Ingle-Finch, during her marriage to the notable mountaineer George Ingle-Finch. George was the son of an eminent lawyer from New South Wales.
Is portrayed by Jerome Ehlers in Darlings of the Gods (1989).
Only one day before his death of a heart attack, he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) on U.S. network television NBC, entertaining the host and the audience with tales of his youth and his "psychic" grandmother. Carson closed his program the next evening with some words about Finch's passing.
He was not originally signed to appear in director John Schlesinger masterpiece, Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971). Oscar-nominee Alan Bates had been hand-picked by the director to play the part of "Dr. Daniel Hirsh", a youngish homosexual doctor, but was deemed unavailable due to other commitments, and then substituted by Ian Bannen was cast in his place. According to the late screenwriter, Penelope Gilliatt, in her introduction to the published screenplay, Bannen never felt comfortable with the part; she speculated that he was flustered by the fact that he would have to kiss the male actor, Murray Head, who played his gay lover whom also had a sexual affair with another woman. His balking caused Schlesinger to fire him and replace him as a last-minute resource with Finch, with whom he had worked with on Far from the Madding Crowd (1967). Finch won the first of his two Best Actor Academy Award nominations for the role. Many observers believe that Finch lost the Oscar to Gene Hackman because of the gay kiss. Finch won the BAFTA and National Society of Film Critics Awards prizes for Best Actor for the role.
Three decades before the controversy over Brokeback Mountain (2005) losing the Best Picture Academy Award to Crash (2004), there was a similar controversy involving Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), one of the first openly and unapologetically gay-themed motion pictures, and the macho police-thriller The French Connection (1971), after the awarding of the Oscars for 1971. Many at the time thought that The French Connection (1971) was not a worthy winner, and that its victory came at the expense of A Clockwork Orange (1971), a highly controversial movie that was recognized as a masterpiece while simultaneously condemned for its depiction of "ultra-violence." However, it was the Best Actor Award that was evocative of the Brokeback Mountain (2005) controversy. As one of the three stars of Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), Finch won the first of his two Best Actor Academy Award nominations for playing a gay doctor involved in a love triangle with a bisexual man and a straight woman. Finch inherited the role from Alan Bates who wanted to do it but couldn't due to his being held up filming The Go-Between (1970); and after replacement, actor Ian Bannen was fired at the beginning of shooting for balking over a simulated sex sequence. This film brought Finch the best reviews of his film career up to that point. It has been revealed that "officially," Bannen was sacked due to the deleterious effect his anxiety over portraying a homosexual who would be involved in the first screen kiss between two men in a major, mainstream motion picture had on his acting. Finch took the role and kissed his co-star Murray Head as part of his characterization and won an Academy Award nomination. Many observers believe that Finch lost the Oscar to eventual winner Gene Hackman because of the gay kiss. For playing the role brilliantly, Finch won the BAFTA and National Society of Film Critics Awards prizes for Best Actor, though Hackman won the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle Award and beat Finch out for the Golden Globe. Some observers believe that Finch's posthumous win for Network (1976) five years later was one of those fabled "Make Up" awards bestowed by the Academy to make up for past wrongs, such as James Stewart's 1941 win for The Philadelphia Story (1940) to make up for a year earlier, when his Mr. Smith inexplicably lost the gong to Robert Donat's Mr. Chips, or Henry Fonda in 1982 for On Golden Pond (1981) over Burt Lancaster's far-more deserving turn in Atlantic City (1980) to make up for Fonda's own egregious 1941 loss to his pal Stewart when he should have won for Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Finch's Network (1976) co-star William Holden had been a slight favorite to win his own second Oscar before Finch passed away during the early going in the Oscar campaign season, making it imperative that amends be made immediately. (ironically, Hackman -- the actor who had earlier bested Finch -- turned down one of the lead roles in Network (1976).) The then-reigning Oscar champ, Jack Nicholson -- a Brokeback Mountain (2005) supporter in 2006 -- had been a vocal champion of Finch winning Best Actor honors in 1977 and led the applause at screenings of Network (1976) intended to boost Finch's chances of copping the award. He did, and went down in Academy Award history as the first posthumous winner of an acting Oscar.
Was discovered by Laurence Olivier in 1948 when Olivier and his theatrical company, which included his wife Vivien Leigh, were conducting a tour of Australia, Olivier signed the young Aussie to a personal contract and Finch became part of Olivier's theatrical company, traveling back to London with his new employer. He then proceeded to cuckold his mentor and employer by bedding Olivier's wife. Olivier was personally humiliated but ever the trouper, he kept the talented Finch under contract; Finch, who had been born in London, flourished as an actor after the career break given him by Olivier. Finch and Leigh carried on a long affair, and since Leigh was bipolar and her manic-depression frequently manifested itself in nymphomania, some speculate that Olivier subconsciously might have been grateful for Finch as he occupied Leigh's hours and kept her out of worse trouble and Olivier from even worse embarrassment.
Born Frederick George Peter Ingle-Finch in London, he lived as a child in France and India, and finally in his parent's native country Australia. He grew up in Sydney, where he began his career as an actor.
Suffered his fatal heart attack in the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on January 14, 1977.
His performance as "Howard Beale" in Network (1976) is ranked #52 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
Was the product of an affair between Alicia Ingle-Finch and Wentworth Edward Dallas "Jock" Campbell, a Scottish Military officer. His mother was, at the time, married to George Ingle-Finch, an Australian born mountaineer. Finch didn't meet his mother until he was 33 and he didn't meet his natural father until he was 45.
Father, with Yolande Turner, of son Charles Finch.
Holds the distinction of being the first person to win a posthumous Oscar in an acting category and is the only person to win a posthumous award for Best Actor In A Leading Role.
Finch's first on-screen performance was in "The Magic Shoes", a 1935 Australian short film directed by Claude Fleming. The short was an adaptation of the Cinderella fairytale, and also starred Helen Hughes, daughter of then Prime Minister Morris Hughes. The creators of the short were unsuccessful in finding a distributor, and as such, it never ended up receiving any form of commercial release, eventually fading into obscurity, before being officially classified as a lost film by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (who cite the film as one of their most-wanted).

In 2006, a roll of nitrate film, containing 33 production stills from the lost short was discovered, an incredible find, given that pictures of Helen Hughes had, up until that point, been extremely rare, and the fact that these photos would likely be the only pieces of physical evidence of the film ever again seen by the public.

Besides the aforementioned photographs, no other material from the film has surfaced, and no known copies of the film itself remain. Still, the National Film and Sound Archive remain optimistic that someone out there may be in possession of a copy, not yet having realised its immense rarity.

Personal Quotes (7)

[When asked why he chose acting as a profession] "If I was going to be broke I decided I might as well be with actors as anyone else. They were cheerful idiots and seemed to take it better."
Good acting should teach people to understand rather than judge.
Hollywood must have been terrific once.
Success is a very tough mistress. For years, while you're struggling, she wants nothing to do with you. Then, one day you find yourself in the room with her and even though the key is on the inside, you can't leave. 'You've made your choice', she says, 'I don't care how exhausted you are - you're going to stay here for the rest of your life making love to me'.
I do not believe that with a fictional character you can force yourself too far away from yourself. There has to be some of you in it.
[on film producer Ross Hunter] He's a very pleasant man. He may sound like Reader's Digest, but he believes every word he says. He's never lost touch with Disneyland.
[on how he coped with the challenge of conducting the first erotic film kiss with another male actor in 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday'] I did it for England.

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