Roddy McDowall Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (46)  | Personal Quotes (10)

Overview (4)

Born in Herne Hill, London, England, UK
Died in Studio City, Los Angeles, California, USA  (lung cancer)
Birth NameRoderick Andrew Anthony Jude McDowall
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Roddy McDowall was born in Herne Hill, London, England, to Winifriede Lucinda (Corcoran), an Irish-born aspiring actress, and Thomas Andrew McDowall, a merchant seaman. Roddy was enrolled in elocution courses at age five and by ten had appeared in his first film, Murder in the Family (1938), playing Peter Osborne, the younger brother of sisters played by Jessica Tandy and Glynis Johns. His mother brought Roddy and his sister to the U.S. at the beginning of World War II, and he soon got the part of Huw, youngest child in a family of Welsh coal miners, in John Ford's How Green Was My Valley (1941), acting alongside Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara and Donald Crisp in the film that won that year's best film Oscar. He went on to many other child roles, in films like My Friend Flicka (1943) and Lassie Come Home (1943) until, at age eighteen, he moved to New York, where he played a long series of successful stage roles, both on Broadway and in such venues as Connecticut's Stratford Festival, where he did Shakespeare. He became a U.S. citizen in 1949. In addition to making many more movies (over 150), McDowall acted in television, developed an extensive collection of movies and Hollywood memorabilia, and published five acclaimed books of his own photography. He died at his Los Angeles home, aged 70, of cancer.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Trade Mark (2)

Often made grand, eloquent speeches at the climax of the films he appeared in
Had the staggering ability to cry within seconds; all he needed to do to get the tears rolling, was to blink.

Trivia (46)

In December 1998, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) honored him for his acting career and critically acclaimed photography by naming its photo archive after him. The collection, which includes several million negatives and stills, will be known as the Roddy McDowall Photograph Archive at the Margaret Herrick Library.
He was cremated after death and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.
Had appeared on three different Batman series: he played the Bookworm in Batman (1966) and the Mad Hatter (Dr. Jervis Tetch) in Batman: The Animated Series (1992) and its spin-off The New Batman Adventures (1997).
In addition to appearing on both the original and animated Batman series (Batman (1966) and Batman: The Animated Series (1992)), he was also the reader for the book-on-tape version of the novelization of the first Batman (1989).
He was a rarity among movie stars in that he appears to have made no enemies at all during his lifetime. A man with numerous friends both in and out of show business, those who knew him continue to speak well of him to this day, and his funeral drew overflow crowds.
In 1943, 20th Century-Fox announced that McDowall would star in "Oliver Twist", but the film was not made.
Won Broadway's 1960 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic) for "The Fighting Cock".
A clerical error on the part of 20th Century-Fox cost McDowall a likely Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor for his role as Caesar Augustus Octavian in Cleopatra (1963). The studio erroneously listed him as a leading player rather than a supporting one. When 20th Century-Fox asked the Academy to correct the error, it refused, saying the ballots already were at the printer. 20th Century-Fox then published an open letter in the trade papers, apologizing to McDowall: "We feel that it is important that the industry realize that your electric performance as Octavian in Cleopatra, which was unanimously singled out by the critics as one of the best supporting performances by an actor this year, is not eligible for an Academy Award nomination in that category... due to a regrettable error on the part of 20th Century-Fox.".
In 1974, the FBI raided his home and seized his collection of films and television series during an investigation of copyright infringement and movie piracy. The collection consisted of 160 16mm prints and over 1,000 videocassettes. The value of the films was conservatively assessed at $5,005,426 by representatives of the movie industry. The actor was not charged and agreed to cooperate with the FBI. There was then no aftermarket for films, as the commercial video recorder had not been marketed, and studios routinely destroyed old negatives and prints of classic films they felt had no worth. Film buffs like McDowall had to purchase 16mm prints of films from the studios, or movie prints on the black market, or from other collectors. He claimed that he had once had as many as 337 movies in his collection, but at the time of the investigation he was not sure how many were still in his possession. He had bought Errol Flynn's movie collection, and had acquired other films through purchases or swaps. McDowall told the FBI that he had transferred many of his films to videotape in order to conserve space and because tape was longer-lasting than film, and subsequently had sold or traded the prints, plus other prints of movies he had lost interest in, to other collectors. He said that he collected the films due to his love of the cinema and to help protect the movies' heritage. McDowall also said that being in possession of prints of his own films allowed him to study his acting and improve his craft. One of the films he had purchased, from American-International Pictures, was Tam Lin (1970), a movie he himself had directed. He explained that he believed that he was not in violation of copyright, as he was not showing the films for profit, nor trying to make a profit when selling his prints as he charged only what he remembered as the price he himself paid. He believed he had purchased some of the films outright from 20th Century-Fox, but learned subsequently from his lawyer that his agreement with 20th Century-Fox meant the studio retained ownership of the prints, and that he was forbidden to sell, trade or lend them out. McDowall was forthcoming about the individuals he dealt with on the black market, and also named Rock Hudson, Dick Martin and Mel Tormé as other celebrities with film collections.
Introduced Carol Lawrence to Robert Goulet. In fact, she jokingly said that McDowall was responsible for hers and Goulet's first child.
Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 396-398. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Became close, lifelong friends with Peggy Ann Garner while filming The Pied Piper (1942) with her in 1941.
Final stage appearance was as Ebenezer Scrooge in the New York City production of "A Christmas Carol" in 1997. He alternated performances with Hal Linden.
On March 10, 1965, he attended the Los Angeles premiere of The Sound of Music (1965) as the date of the movie's star, Julie Andrews.
Lifelong friends with Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor has since referred to him as the one friend she had to whom she confided everything, and who was always understanding.
An accomplished ballroom dancer, he won both the Charleston and Cha-Cha contests on the The Arthur Murray Party (1950).
Explained in 1995 during an interview for American cable station USA Network the limitations of his make-up on Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). Overwhelmed by frustration over the inability to eat, touch his face and the constant itch brought on by the chimpanzee prosthetics, he admitted to crying.
Along with Woodrow Parfrey, Norman Burton and Eldon Burke, he is one of only four actors to appear in both Planet of the Apes (1968) and Planet of the Apes (1974).
He was close friends with Maureen O'Hara for 57 years, from the time that they made How Green Was My Valley (1941), their first and only film together, until his death in October 1998.
Both of the series in which he starred were short-lived science fiction series produced in the 1970s: Planet of the Apes (1974) and The Fantastic Journey (1977).
Has appeared in four of the five Planet of the Apes films. Having originally played the chimpanzee archaeologist Cornelius in Planet of the Apes (1968), he was unable to reprise his role in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) as he was directing Tam Lin (1970) in Britain at the time. In that film, the role was played by David Watson. However, he later returned as Cornelius in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and as his son Caesar in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).
Horse whisperer Monty Roberts was McDowall's stunt double for most of his childhood roles.
The day after his death, Angela Lansbury paid tribute to him on "BBC Radio Five 5: Up all Night". She described him as "one of the most wonderful friends, anybody could possibly have . . . we've lost a beloved friend" and that he will be "so missed".
He was the son of Thomas Andrew McDowall, a merchant seaman, and Winifriede McDowall (born Winifred Lucinda Corcoran); had an older sister: Virginia McDowall. His father was of English and Scottish descent, and his mother was Irish.
Had appeared on an episode of The Carol Burnett Show (1967) wearing his Planet of the Apes (1968) make-up. The look of fright on Carol Burnett's face was reputed to be genuine.
Had played the same character (The Mad Hatter) on three different series: Batman: The Animated Series (1992), Superman: The Animated Series (1996) and The New Batman Adventures (1997).
Had played villains on both Batman (1966) and Batman: The Animated Series (1992), the only actor to do so.
Along with Adam West, Bob Hastings, Barry Dennen, Steve Franken, Michael Pataki and Judy Strangis, he is one of only seven actors to appear in both Batman (1966) and Batman: The Animated Series (1992).
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6632 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
He cast his mother Winifriede McDowall as the innkeeper's wife in Kidnapped (1948). Although she dreamed of being an actress, it was her only on screen role.
He was born exactly one day after Batman (1966) actor Adam West. Both guest-starred on Batman: The Animated Series (1992) as well.
Was Jay Sandrich's first choice for the lead role of Arthur Carlson on WKRP in Cincinnati (1978), but was unavailable, hence, the role was given to Gordon Jump, who previously played the chief police officer on Soap (1977).
In Italy for the filming of Cleopatra (1963), became so frustrated with the numerous delays during its production, he begged Darryl F. Zanuck for a part in The Longest Day (1962) just so he could do some work and. ended up with a small role as an American soldier. Richard Burton, being in the same position followed suit and got a cameo role of an RAF pilot.
After working with him in The Fantastic Journey (1977), Roddy sent Christmas cards to his co-star Ike Eisenmann every year without fail; until his death in 1998.
Made strong, lasting friendships with his co-stars Maureen O'Hara and Anna Lee while working on the set of How Green Was My Valley (1941). He said in his episode of This Is Your Life (1955) in 1991, that Anna and he continued to call one another by their character names from the film (he called her Bronwyn, or Bron; and she called him Huw) for all of their years as friends. His adoration for Maureen was marked as well, for as a 13 year old he had informed her that when he turned 21, he would marry her. Maureen said on This is your life that while at his 21st birthday party she asked him "Roddy, when do we leave?". "We never got married!" she said. To much laughter from the audience in the theater, Roddy got down on both knees before Maureen, his hands clasped pleadingly with genuine adoration in his eyes and a smile playing over his face; to which Maureen quipped "YES!".
Met his best friend Elizabeth Taylor on the Set of Lassie Come Home (1943), and their friendship lasted until his death in 1998. He said of her in an interview in 1996 "She was an eight year old perfection. Absolutely ravishingly beautiful. So beautiful in fact that I began to laugh. . .because that sort of, takes your breath away." To mark the occasion of their working together again in Cleopatra (1963) in 1961, Elizabeth had a signet ring specially made for Roddy. It bore the McDowall family crest upon it.. Roddy wore it every single day from the moment Elizabeth gave it to him; He even wore it when he worked and is seen always wearing it in his television and film roles after Cleopatra, from 1963 until the end of his life. Prior to his death, he bequeathed his beloved ring to his sister Virginia McDowall. It is unknown what happened to the ring when she passed away in 2006.
Has an older sister, Virginia.
Was in four Oscar Best Picture nominees, How Green Was My Valley (1941), The Pied Piper (1942), The Longest Day (1962) and Cleopatra (1963), with the first of these the only winner.
He almost had guest roles in Star Trek. He was the original choice for Trelane in Star Trek: The Original Series: The Squire of Gothos (1967), but it was feared that the mannerisms of the character combined with McDowall's look would make the character appear gay. William Campbell was chosen because his huskier look/build would offset the foppish mannerisms of the character. He was also the preferred choice to voice Armus in Star Trek: The Next Generation: Skin of Evil (1988). He was also considered for Constable Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993).
He was a naturalized United States citizen.
He was a lifelong liberal Democrat.
He was considered for the role of Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the horror miniseries It (1990), which went to Tim Curry.
Along with Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison, Ricardo Montalban, John Randolph, Natalie Trundy and Severn Darden, he is one of only nine actors to play the same character in more than one film in the original "Planet of the Apes" series. He played Cornelius in both Planet of the Apes (1968) and Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and his son Caesar in both Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).
Attended the premiere of Waterworld (1995) with Mia Kirshner as his date.
He was considered for the role of Nick in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) that went to George Segal.
He has appeared in three films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: How Green Was My Valley (1941), Lassie Come Home (1943) and Planet of the Apes (1968).

Personal Quotes (10)

Intellectually, I'd love to play Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire". Can't you just imagine me down in the streets yelling, "Stella! Stella!". God, the critics would have a lot of fun with that one.
[on his more well-known roles as a child actor] I really liked Lassie, but that horse, Flicka, was a nasty animal with a terrible disposition. All the Flickas--all six of them--were awful.
My whole life I've been trying to prove I'm not just yesterday.
I enjoyed being in movies when I was a boy. As a child, you're not acting--you believe. Ah, if an adult could only act as a child does with that insane, playing-at-toy-soldiers concentration!
[in 1976, on his fellow former child stars] Compare us to your high school graduating class. You'll discover there is always a percentage of successes, and those who fall by the wayside to become alcoholics, dopers, or just plain losers. Sure there are the Bobby Driscolls, the tragedies, but don't forget the others: Elizabeth Taylor, Hayley Mills, Natalie Wood, Gene Reynolds--who's a successful producer--and so many others.
I absolutely adore movies. Even bad ones. I don't like pretentious ones, but a good bad movie, you must admit, is great.
All you can do is make a piece of product, sell it on its own terms, stand behind it and hope that people will go see it. If you try to be like something else or appeal to any given group, then you can very easily end up being gratuitous and imitative. There's not much to be gained by that and I think too much time is spent going around trying to be like someone else.
[on Mia Farrow] Trying to describe Mia is like trying to describe dust in a shaft of sunlight. There are all those particles. Her conversation is clotted.
[on the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton romance] I knew back in Rome when we were making Cleopatra (1963) that it would never work. Elizabeth doesn't just love someone; she possesses them. And Richard isn't a man to be possessed. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did.
[in 1968, on his career] . . . totally isolated, really suffocating. As a child, I was always lied to about myself and about the world.

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