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Richard Todd

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Also Known As: Richard Andrew Palethorpe-Todd Died: December 3, 2009
Born: June 11, 1919 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Dublin, IE Profession: actor, producer, writer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Born in Ireland and raised in England, handsome leading man Richard Todd was a founding member of the Dundee Repertory Theatre of Scotland prior to his long and distinguished WWII service, first with the King's Own Light Infantry and later with a parachute regiment. After the war, he burst upon the scene as the doomed Scot of "The Hasty Heart" (1949), earning an Oscar nomination as Best Actor for his compelling performance, and he would also deliver one of his most highly-acclaimed portrayals as another Scotsman, US Senate chaplain Peter Marshall, in Henry Koster's "A Man Called Peter" (1955). Todd was a dashing Robin Hood (though overshadowed by his supporting characters) in "Robin Hood and His Merrie Men" (1953) and an ambitious Sir Walter Raleigh, whose eye for toothsome Joan Collins alienates the affections of monarch Bette Davis in Koster's "The Virgin Queen" (also 1955), but for the most part, his best work came in World War II dramas that gave the former soldier the chance for his art to imitate his life. Beginning a four picture collaboration with director Michael Anderson in "The Dam Breakers" (1954), Todd made a distinguished showing as Wing Commander Guy Gibson in the real-life story of...

Born in Ireland and raised in England, handsome leading man Richard Todd was a founding member of the Dundee Repertory Theatre of Scotland prior to his long and distinguished WWII service, first with the King's Own Light Infantry and later with a parachute regiment. After the war, he burst upon the scene as the doomed Scot of "The Hasty Heart" (1949), earning an Oscar nomination as Best Actor for his compelling performance, and he would also deliver one of his most highly-acclaimed portrayals as another Scotsman, US Senate chaplain Peter Marshall, in Henry Koster's "A Man Called Peter" (1955). Todd was a dashing Robin Hood (though overshadowed by his supporting characters) in "Robin Hood and His Merrie Men" (1953) and an ambitious Sir Walter Raleigh, whose eye for toothsome Joan Collins alienates the affections of monarch Bette Davis in Koster's "The Virgin Queen" (also 1955), but for the most part, his best work came in World War II dramas that gave the former soldier the chance for his art to imitate his life. Beginning a four picture collaboration with director Michael Anderson in "The Dam Breakers" (1954), Todd made a distinguished showing as Wing Commander Guy Gibson in the real-life story of the triumphant British raid against the Ruhr dams, carrying the picture with the help of Michael Redgrave, and reteamed with the director for "Yangtse Incident/Battle Hell" (1956), another true story, this time of a British ship stranded on the Red Chinese-dominated Yangtse River in 1949. Although his third film with the director, "Chase a Crooked Shadow" (1958), was a Hitchcock-like melodrama, he returned as a Wing Commander (this time named Kendall) for their last film together, "Operation Crossbow" (1965), and though Koster's fine "D-Day, the Sixth of June" (1956) cast him in a love triangle with Dana Wynter and Robert Taylor, his character was the one that did not live to see the end of the movie, stepping tragically on a land mine. Todd was also a standout in "Breakout/The Danger Within" (1959, as the colonel passionately committed to escape) and "The Long and the Short and the Tall" (1961, pulling down top-billing as the dogged, worried sergeant), not to mention appearing as one of the 43 stars of "The Longest Day" (1962). In the 70s, Todd returned to the stage with a vengeance, founding Triumph Theatre Productions and touring extensively in the company's plays. He even performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company in two 1974 productions, "The Hollow Crown" and "Pleasure and Repentance". His turn as an LSD-advocating, hippie messiah in "The Love-Ins" (1967) may have been a bad trip, but then most of his later features were either trashy or forgettable (or both), with perhaps the exception being the remake of "The Big Sleep" (1978). Todd returned to familiar WWII terrain as General Benjamin Cutler in the British miniseries "Jenny's War" (1985) and played Lord Roberts of Kandahar in the syndicated miniseries "Sherlock Holmes and the Incident at Victoria Falls" (1992). Among his other TV appearances, he portrayed Colonel Alec Scofield in 1989's "The Appointment in Athens" episode of CBS' "Murder, She Wrote" and appeared in "D-Day Remembered: A Musical Tribute from the QE2" (PBS, 1994).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Thrill of Genius, The (1986) Himself
2.
 90 Days (1985) Government Official
3.
 House of the Long Shadows (1982) Sam Allison
4.
 Home Before Midnight (1978) Geoffrey Steele
5.
 Big Sleep, The (1978) Commander Barker
6.
 No. 1 of the Secret Service (1977) Arthur Loveday
7.
 Asylum (1972) Walter
8.
 Dorian Gray (1970) Basil Hallward
9.
 Subterfuge (1968) Col. Victor Redmayne
10.
 The Love-Ins (1967) Dr. Jonathan Barnett
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in England
1938:
Was a founding member of Dundee Repertory, Scotland
:
Enlisted with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, becoming a commander
:
Served in a parachute regiment, achieving rank of captain
:
Replaced Richard Basehart in the Broadway production of "The Hasty Heart"
:
Returned to the Dundee Repertory
1948:
Feature acting debut in "For Them That Trespass"
1949:
Received Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his first leading role as a feisty Scotsman in "The Hasty Heart"
1950:
Acted in Alfred Hitchcock's "Stage Fright"
1952:
Starred as Robin Hood in "The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men"
1953:
Appeared as Heathcliff in BBC-TV version of "Wuthering Heights"
1954:
First film with director Michael Anderson, "The Dam Busters", playing Wing Commander Guy Gibson
1954:
Played title role in "Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue"
1955:
Sensitively portrayed US Senate chaplain Peter Marshall in Henry Koster's "A Man Called Peter"
1955:
Appeared as Sir Walter Raleigh opposite Bette Davis in "The Virgin Queen", directed by Koster
1956:
Acted with Dana Wynter and Robert Taylor in "D-Day the Sixth of June", the third and last collaboration with Koster
1958:
Reteamed with Anderson on "Chase a Crooked Shadow"
1959:
Headlined the cast of "Breakout/Danger Within", as exciting tale of the escape of British POWs from Italian prison camp near end of WWII
1961:
Starred in "The Long and the Short and the Tall", a well-delineated account of a British patrol unit in WWII
1962:
Was part of the all-star cast of "The Longest Day"
1963:
First time as Inspector Harry Sanders in "Sanders"
1964:
Executive produced and starred in "Why Bother to Knock"
1964:
Reprised role of Sanders in "Coast of Skeletons"
1965:
Acted in Anderson's fine impossible mission tale, "Operation Crossbow", taking another turn as a Wing Commander, this time named Kendall
1967:
Played college professor-hippie messiah in "The Love-Ins"
1968:
Was executive associate producer of "The Name of the Game Is Kill" (did not act in)
1970:
Portrayed Basil Howard in the trashy remake "Dorian Gray"
1970:
Founded Triumph Theatre Productions and toured in various plays throughout the 70s in England, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA
1974:
Acted in Royal Shakespeare Company productions of "The Hollow Crown" and "Pleasure and Repentance"
1975:
Starred in Australian stage production of "Equus"
1978:
Played Commander Barker in the remake of "The Big Sleep"
1982:
Had featured part in "House of the Long Shadows", notable primarily for presence of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine in small roles
1985:
Co-starred with Robert Hardy and Elke Sommer in "Jenny's War", a British miniseries starring Dyan Cannon
1989:
Appeared as Colonel Alec Scofield in "Appointment in Athens" episode of "Murder, She Wrote" (CBS)
1992:
Portrayed Lord Roberts of Kandehar in syndicated miniseries "Sherlock Holmes: Incident at Victoria Falls"
1994:
Appeared as himself in "D-Day Remembered: A Musical Tribute from the QE2" (PBS)
1996:
Was an interviwee for the documentary "Marlene: Shadows and Light"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Shrewsbury School: -
Italia Conti Academy: -

Notes

Awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1993

Commenting on directors with whom he has worked, Richard Todd told Tony Williams (FILMS OF THE GOLDEN AGE, Fall 1998): "I was very much in awe of [Hitchcock], but I did discover he wasn't very helpful as a director. . . . he's a great filmmaker but not a great actor's film director. King Vidor was a charming man, very nice to me indeed, very sage and wise about films in general, but perhaps a bit old-fashioned. . . . Vincent Sherman . . . There is a good film director and a great actor's director. The others, like Henry Koster and Michael Anderson, people I enjoyed working with."

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Catherine Grant-Bogle. Married c. 1949; divorced in 1969.
wife:
Virginia Ann Mailer. Model. Married in 1970.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Andrew William Palethorpe-Todd.
mother:
Marvill Palethorpe-Todd.
son:
Peter Palethorpe-Todd. Mother, Catherine Grant-Bogle.
daughter:
Fiona Palethorpe-Todd. Mother, Catherine Grant-Bogle.
son:
Andrew Palethorpe-Todd. Mother, Virginia Mailer.
son:
Seamus Palethorpe-Todd. Born c. 1977; mother, Virginia Mailer; committed suicide in December 1997.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Caught in the Act: The Story of My Life" Hutchinson
"In Camera"

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