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Closing Credits: Richard Todd

RichardTodd.jpgRichard Todd, the British actor who began on stage and Broadway, perhaps best known for his role in The Dam Busters, has died aged 90.

He also starred in The Longest Day, one of the few actors who actually took part in the Normandy invasion on D-Day and were tasked with capturing towns and villages.

His face and voice are a legend in British cinema, and for good reason too. He often played the stiff upper lipped, gung-ho soldier and that was a theme in his acting too.

He was insistant that he carried out his own stunts, and the BBC remind us that two of his most famous self-performed stunts were racing along a mountainside road in Chase a Crooked Shadow and leaping almost twenty feet for Rob Roy, The Highland Rogue.

Richard Todd was born in Dublin and educated in England. He first appeared on stage professionally at an open air theatre in Regent's Park in 1936, and the BBC tell us that he went on to be a founding member of the Dundee repertory company.

It was in 1948 that his film career began in For Them That Trespass, but he found fame through his stage performance in The Hasty Heart which took him onto Broadway, and back to England for the film version, and it's this latter performance that earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination in 1949.

He was voted one of the top ten British box office stars in the Motion Picture Herald-Fame poll in 1952 apparently. I don't know how important that was at the time, but he was a widely known and respected actor of the period.

During the fifties he starred in the Disney films The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, The Sword and the Rose and Rob Roy, The Highland Rogue

What I didn't know about him was that he was, again according to the article, Ian Fleming's first choice to play Bond before the role went to Sean Connery. Now I think Todd would have made an impressive James Bond, but could we have missed Connery?

However his two most well known roles are perhaps the part he played in the film The Longest Day in 1962 as Major John Howard leading the attack on Pegasus Bridge, the beginning of the airborne operation. He declined to play himself for his actual role in events.

It was his previous role, in 1954, that he was best known though, playing Wing Commander Guy Gibson in The Dam Busters, a superb film which Peter Jackson is involved in remaking.

After the sixties his film roles continued and he also turned back to stage and the odd television appearance, and in 1993 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, an OBE no less.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

Actor and Soldier
Richard Todd



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