McDowall Memorial Nov. 7
By Nick Madigan
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - A memorial gathering for Roddy McDowall, who died
earlier this month, will be held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts &
Sciences on Nov. 7.
The hour-long program will begin at 10 a.m in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater and
is open primarily to people who knew him or worked with him, said academy
spokeswoman Leslie Unger.
Robert Rehme, the academy's president, said his office had received numerous
requests from McDowall's industry friends to host a memorial. Rehme said it is
unusual for the academy to host such an event but that in this instance it was
appropriate: At the time of his Oct. 3 death, McDowall was a board member of the
academy -- representing the actors' branch -- and president of the Academy
``There has been an extraordinary outpouring of grief from Roddy's friends
around the world, and it is clear that all of us who knew him would appreciate
some formal way to say goodbye,'' Rehme said. ``We want this to be an
opportunity for those who knew Roddy personally to share memories and bid their
Reservations aren't necessary, Unger said.
Monday, October 12, 1998
Versatile McDowall Dies At 70
By Richard Natale
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - British-born actor
Roddy McDowall, who began his career in the 1930s as a child star and continued
working for six decades, died of cancer Saturday in Studio City. He was 70.
Well-known and well-liked in Hollywood, he was a passionate film lover and
boasted one of the finest personal collections of old films and movie
memorabilia. He also served on the boards of the Screen Actors Guild and the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and lent himself to the efforts
of the National Film Preservation Board.
McDowall was a popular child actor throughout the 1940s, when he appeared in
such films as ``How Green Was My Valley, ``The Keys to the Kingdom,'' ``The
White Cliffs of Dover'' and ``Lassie Come Home.''
Shortly after completing his first adult role, as Malcolm in Orson Welles' ``Macbeth,''
McDowall largely abandoned Hollywood to work on stage and live television. He
won a Tony in 1960 for a short-lived Broadway production of ``The Fighting
Cock'' and also garnered raves for ``Compulsion'' and the original Broadway
production of ``Camelot.''
Returning to films in the '60s, he appeared with friend Elizabeth Taylor in
``Cleopatra'' and settled into a character-acting career in such films as
``Inside Daisy Clover,'' ``The Loved One'' and ``Lord Love a Duck.'' His
portrayals of Cornelius, the sympathetic chimpanzee in the ``Planet of the
Apes'' series, were particularly noteworthy.
Television audiences may remember him as the Bookworm in the ``Batman''
series, but McDowall popped up everywhere in movies and television, working
constantly in hundreds of films, series and TV movies. He most recently voiced
Mr. Soil in Disney's upcoming animated picture, ``A Bug's Life.''
McDowall's other career was as a celebrity photographer -- he published his
first collection, ``Double Exposure,'' in 1966 -- and his death comes just days
after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to name its photo
archive after him.
Two years ago, McDowall returned to the stage for the first time in more than
a decade, in a touring production of ``Dial M for Murder,'' and he received rave
reviews as Scrooge in a holiday stage production of ``A Christmas Carol'' at
Madison Square Garden.
McDowall was a link to Hollywood's golden era. As a young actor he attended
the famed MGM school on the lot, sitting through classes with other young stars
like Elizabeth Taylor. He knew all the studio secrets -- the scandals, the
furtive affairs, the deals. He could walk the lot and relate where legendary
films were shot and where famous battles between stars and their directors were
Since he grew up with the stars, he ultimately became the keeper of their
secrets. At any given time, he was dining or corresponding with the legends. He
knew how to find Jean Arthur after she had gone into seclusion. He knew what had
happened to Leslie Caron. He stayed in touch with silent screen stars like Alice
Terry and Louise Brooks. When asked a question about film lore he could not
answer, he would reach the George Cukors or Vincent Prices or other remarkable
resources of that era.
Retained by MGM as a producer in the mid-'80s, McDowall ferreted out
long-forgotten screenplays that had been developed during the Mayer-Thalberg
era. ``Some of the best material that never got made was developed for the
mistresses of executives or producers,'' he explained. ``Usually the projects
would get abandoned because the relationships ended, but they were great stories
He was born Roderick Andrew Anthony Jude McDowall on Sept. 17, 1928, in Herne
Hill, London. After winning an acting prize in a school play, he landed his
first starring assignment in 1938's ``Scruffy,'' which was followed by ``Murder
in the Family'' and more than a dozen other British films, including ``The
Outsider,'' ``Dead Man's Shoes'' and ``Just William.''
After his family was evacuated during the Battle of Britain in 1940, he was
signed by 20th Century Fox mogul Darryl F. Zanuck, who saw him as a new Freddie
Bartholomew. He made his American debut in ``Man Hunt,'' but his performance in
John Ford's Oscar-winning ``How Green Was My Valley'' (1941) led to stardom and
a long-term contract. He followed it with an equally winning role in ``Lassie
Come Home,'' where he first met the young Elizabeth Taylor, who was to become a
He transferred his affections from a collie to a horse in ``My Friend Flicka''
and its 1945 sequel, ``Thunderhead, Son of Flicka.'' Other juvenile appearances
included ``The White Cliffs of Dover,'' ``The Keys to the Kingdom,'' ``The Pied
Piper'' and ``Kidnapped.''
As Malcolm in Orson Welles' baroque production of ``Macbeth,'' McDowall
crossed into adulthood, even forming a production company with co-star Dan
O'Herlihy. But his early adult films for Monogram Pictures were forgettable
titles like ``Black Midnight,'' ``Tuna Clipper,'' ``Big Timber'' and ``Killer
Throughout the '50s he resided mostly in New York, where he found a home on
the Broadway stage and in stock. He starred with Ethel Barrymore in Shaw's
``Misalliance'' in 1953 and later that year in ``Escapade.''
Off Broadway he appeared in ``The Homeward Look'' and ``The Doctor's
Dilemma.'' At the American Shakespeare Festival in 1955 he had starring roles in
``Julius Caesar'' and as Ariel in ``The Tempest,'' which he would repeat for
television in 1960. Returning to Broadway, he starred in short-lived productions
of ``Diary of a Scoundrel'' and ``Good as Gold'' before striking gold opposite
Dean Stockwell in ``Compulsion,'' a stage version of the Leopold and Loeb trial
based on Meyer Levin's bestselling novel; the comedy ``No Time for Sergeants''
(in which he also appeared on television); and the musical ``Camelot,'' in which
he played Mordred. Though it closed quickly, McDowall's work in Jean Anouilh's
drama ``The Fighting Cock'' was remembered at Tony time in 1960.
He was also prolific in early television on such anthology drama series as
``Playhouse 90'' and ``The Hallmark Hall of Fame.'' He starred in productions of
``The Good Fairy,'' ``Heart of Darkness'' and ``Billy Budd.'' His performance in
``Not Without Honor'' won him an Emmy following the 1960-61 season.
By the end of the '50s, he was ready to return to films and appeared in
``Midnight Lace'' and ``The Subterraneans,'' ``The Power and the Glory,'' ``The
Longest Day'' and Taylor's belabored and long-in-production ``Cleopatra,'' which
was finally released in 1963.
Thereafter, McDowall worked steadily, mostly in supporting roles in films
like ``Lord Love a Duck,'' ``The Loved One,'' ``That Darn Cat,'' ``The Greatest
Story Ever Told,'' ``Inside Daisy Clover,'' and 1968's ``Planet of the Apes,''
as well as most of that film's theatrical and television sequels.
His passion for photography led to his highly praised ``Double Exposure''
(and its three sequels, the last of which was published in 1993), as well as a
brief stint as a photo adviser to Harper's Bazaar.
He also tried his hand at directing the ill-fated ``Tam Lin'' (aka ``The
Devil's Widow'') starring his close friend Ava Gardner. Though filmed in the
late '60s, the picture was not released until 1971.
In 1987 McDowall served as executive producer on Goldie Hawn's romantic
comedy ``Overboard,'' in which he also appeared.
At times practically omnipresent, McDowall popped up in dozens of movies,
including ``The Poseidon Adventure,'' ``The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean,''
``Evil Under the Sun,'' ``Funny Lady'' and numerous TV movies like ``The
Elevator,'' ``The Immigrants,'' ``The Memory of Eva Ryker,'' ``This Girl For
Hire'' and ``Mae West.''
Nor was he averse to guest-starring roles in TV series like ``Batman,''
``Mission: Impossible,'' ``Night Gallery,'' ``Wonder Woman,'' Murder, She
Wrote,'' ``McMillan and Wife,'' ``Dream On,'' ``Matlock'' and ``Remember WENN.''
More recent work includes 1995's ``Last Summer in the Hamptons,'' ``The Grass
Harp,'' ``It's My Party'' and TV movies like ``Dead Man's Island.''
In August of this year, he was elected president of the Academy Foundation.
He had previously served on the Academy's board and on the board of the Screen
He was also involved with the Motion Picture and Television Fund's Actors
Home, where his sister Virginia, who survives him, lives.
Monday, October 5, 1998
Actor Roddy McDowall Dies At Age 70
By Arthur Spiegelman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Roddy McDowall, the English-born actor who starred as
a child in ``Lassie Come Home'' and made a generation of new fans as an adult in
``Planet of the Apes,'' died Saturday at his home of cancer, associates said.
The actor, director and producer was 70 years old and news that he had been
terminally ill with cancer shocked Hollywood when it became public two weeks
He was diagnosed in April but kept it a secret until he told Daily Variety
columnist Army Archerd.
Johnny Grant, who is known as the ``honorary mayor of Hollywood'' and
chairman of Hollywood's Walk of Fame Committee, said the film industry ``had
lost a splendid actor, a true gentleman and one great photographer.'' He was
referring to McDowall's passion for photographing celebrities, works that have
been exhibited around the world.
McDowall, the London-born son of a Scottish merchant seaman who was evacuated
to United States during World War II, started his film career at age 8 and
appeared in 22 films before landing in Hollywood where he starred with a young
Elizabeth Taylor in 1943 in ``Lassie Come Home.''
He and Taylor maintained a life-long friendship and he appeared with her as a
mad Roman emperor in ``Cleopatra,'' the film that saw her romance blossom with
co-star Richard Burton.
He also appeared in the 1941 film classic ``How Green Was My Valley,'' in
which he won rave reviews and even predictions that he would became a boy
equivalent of Shirley Temple, something he was spared.
He also starred in a raft of boy-meets-animal films including ``My Friend
In the Oscar-winning ``How Green Was My Valley,'' he played a young boy
trying to overcome a crippling accident opposite adult star Walter Pigeon, who
played a minister helping him.
One of Hollywood's most popular figures, McDowall had to fight to reestablish
his career as an actor when he became an adult.
He recalled in interviews that as he grew older Hollywood insisted on still
thinking of him as if he were an 11-year-old.
So in the early 1950s, he emigrated to Broadway, where he appeared in widely
praised productions of ``Ah, Wilderness'' and ''Billy Budd,'' and became a
mainstay of early television drama, winning an Emmy for acting in ``Not Without
Honor'' in 1960.
He also won a Broadway Tony award for best supporting actor in a play for
Jean Anouilh's ``The Fighting Cock'' in 1960.
He appeared in many TV series in the 1960s including the police drama ``Naked
City'' and ``Batman,'' where he appeared as the villainous ``Bookworm."
He returned to Hollywood as a character actor where his career was reborn in
1968 with ``Planet of the Apes,'' in which he played the intellectual simian,
Cornelius, who wanted to befriend mankind. That landmark film spawned four
sequels, three of which starred McDowall. He also played a vampire-hunting TV
talk show host in ``Fright Night'' in 1985.
Besides acting, his consuming passion was photography and he was considered
one of the country's leading photographers of celebrities. He published four
books of pictures, starting with ''Double Exposure.''
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with whom McDowall worked
for many years, announced Friday that it was naming its photo archive after him.
The Academy's 7-million-strong collection of negatives and still photos will
be called the Roddy McDowall Photograph Archive at the Margaret Herrick Library.
``The board felt that a tribute to Roddy was appropriate because of his
long-time activity on behalf of the Academy,'' said AMPAS president Robert Rehme.
McDowall represented the actors' branch on the Academy's board of governors
His credits as a photographer include the book ``Double Exposure,'' work for
almost two dozen magazines and a job as unit photographer on HBO's ``To Catch a
Thief'' in 1983.
Sunday, October 4, 1998