CUSHING FINDS FILM CAREER A HORROR
Originally printed in Rome Daily Sentinel (Central New York State) 1973
New York (AP) - Carefully pulling a white glove over his left hand before lighting a cigarette, actor Peter Cushing explains, "It's to keep nicotine off my fingers. I think the stains look so ugly in color films."
A thoughtful gesture, as many horror films are in color and Cushing has appeared in some 40 of these, often as the fiendish Frankenstein (seven films), or "the chap who's always trying to drive a stake through Dracula's vampire heart" or, perhaps for a change of pace, a hanged man who emerges from the grave to destroy the men who put him there.
A gentle, soft-spoken Englishman, Cushing's latest sally into horror is in a film called "Asylum," advertised with the warning, "You have nothing to lose but your mind." Usually talkative, the 59 year old Cushing will only say about his part in this movies that, "I'm a rather mysterious gentleman with the wonderful name of Mr. Smith who goes to a tailor to get a suit made and that's all I can tell you."
Cushing, a widower who had occupied his idle hours painting, bird watching, and making models, began as an actor when he was 22, doing repertory work. Acting in horror films was not to appear in his career until 1956 when he was seen acting on television and "I was approached to do Frankenstein. That's how it all started and I never dreamed then how the fantasy snowball (he prefers fantasy to horror) would start rolling and never melt."
"I didn't set out to make this kind of picture. It just came my way. But its been going on for me for 16 years now and its wonderful for an actor to work consistently. There seems to be an insatiable audience for this type of film."
Cushing, who has appeared in such films as "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors", "Tales from the Crypt", "The House that Dripped Blood", and "Scream and Scream Again" says he thinks such films are popular because "the audience likes them. They take the viewer away from his worries and anxieties. He knows he is going to see fantasy and not reality and thus he is entertained."
"Since the purpose of all actors is to entertain I appear frequently in the films that do just that - entertain."
Cushing notes that in the past 18 months he has made 11 films - "not always playing the leading part of course. I literally haven't stopped acting and it's been wonderful." His next job, he says, is playing his usual role as Dracula's pursuer (for the fifth time) in a film called "Dracula is Dead...But Well and Living in London."
As to the future, he says, not cryptically "when I signed my contract for "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed" I wrote next to my signature 'Over My Dead Body'".
Special Thanks to Mike Howlett for providing the original article