Peter Cushing (26 May 1913-11 August 1994[1]) played the eccentric Dr. Who in two mid-1960s movies (Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.) based on the Doctor Who television series. He is perhaps best known for playing Baron Frankenstein and Professor van Helsing in Hammer films, often appearing opposite his close friend Christopher Lee, as well for his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars.

Apart from his role as Dr. Who, Cushing was considered to take over from First Doctor William Hartnell or Third Doctor Jon Pertwee. In the first case, he turned down the role. In the second, he would have accepted if prior commitments had not made this impossible. He had also appeared on a list of actors who could potentially play the Frankenstein-like role of the mad surgeon Solon in the Fourth Doctor story The Brain of Morbius. Shortly before his death, he was considered for the part of Borusa in a television movie project that eventually became Doctor Who.[2]

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Cushing was born in Kenley in Surrey on 26 May 1913. He was raised in Kenley and Dulwich, South London. He left his first job as a surveyor's assistant to take up a scholarship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After working in repertory theatre, he left for Hollywood in 1939, but returned in 1941 after roles in several films. His first major film part was as Osric in Hamlet (1948) with Laurence Olivier.

Cushing played Sherlock Holmes many times, starting with Hammer's The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), the first colour Holmes film. He followed this up with a performance in 16 episodes of the BBC series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (1968), of which only six episodes survive. It co-starred Nigel Stock as Dr. Watson. Cushing played the detective in old age in The Masks of Death (1984) for Channel 4.

In 1976, Cushing portrayed Doctor Abner Perry in At the Earth's Core, scripted by Milton Subotsky. This part bore a great similarity to Cushing's 1960's Doctor, with one source even suggesting that the proect started out as a third Dalek movie before the BBC pulled out and it was retooled into an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's 1914 novel. Perry, specifically pointed out to resemble actor Peter Cushing, made a cameo in the Doctor Who universe in the 2013 novel From Wildthyme with Love, by Paul Magrs.

In 1977, he appeared in Star Wars as one of his most recognised characters, Grand Moff Tarkin.

In 1989, he was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

He retired to Whitstable, where he had bought a seafront house in 1959. He died from cancer in Canterbury in 1994, aged 81. He was married to the actress Helen Beck from 1943 until her death in 1971. His love for her has become one of the most warmly regarded aspects of his star persona, and he famously named a rose after her on the BBC programme Jim'll Fix It.

Justin Richards has stated in a tweet that the character of Lord Ernhardt in his novel Plague of the Cybermen was "played" by Cushing.[3]

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