January 8, 2024 | Byron Fast

Surprising Facts About Peter Cushing, The Master Of All Things Terrifying


As a horror film icon, Peter Cushing terrified a whole generation of moviegoers. Ironically, there was one simple thing that scared the pants off of this legendary horror star. 


1. It Was A Shaky Path

Peter Cushing is instantly recognizable as Dr Frankenstein, Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes, or even Star Wars’ Grand Moff Tarkin. What many people don’t realize is that his career followed a very shaky trajectory to superstardom. The guy just seemed to consistently make the wrong decisions. 

In fact, his career didn’t even take off until he was middle-aged, and even then he seemed to sabotage it every chance he got. 

Peter Cushing in Cash On Demand - 1961Hammer, Wikimedia Commons

2. His Childhood Was Wild 

Peter Wilton Cushing was born in England on May 26, 1913. His childhood was bizarre as his mother dressed him like a girl, and then, when there was a threat of a missile attack during WWI, she hid him under the table. Cushing survived WWI, only to get double pneumonia—an illness that was usually fatal at that time.

Though he pulled through, it was a fraught existence for Cushing, and he needed to find an escape.

Peter Cushing in  The Brides Of Dracula -1960web.archive, Wikimedia Commons 

3. He Made A Big Decision Early 

One Christmas, Cushing saw a performance of Peter Pan, and everything suddenly fell into place. He’d always wondered why he liked to play make believe, and why dressing up in girl’s clothes hadn’t bothered him at all. The easy answer was that he wanted to be an actor. Cushing finally knew what he wanted to do with his life. 

But even from the beginning, Cushing’s luck wasn’t always with him.

Peter Cushing in The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)United Artists, Wikimedia Commons

4. He Rebelled

Cushing’s father, who came from a theater background, was strangely adamant that his son not become an actor. He did recognize that his son was artistic, so he set him up as a surveyor’s assistant. This was about as close to being artistic as...well it’s not. Cushing failed miserably at this job and was soon defying his father and doing amateur plays in his spare time. 

Without no financial support from his father, Cushing had to go to extreme measures to kick-start his acting career.

Screenshot of Peter Cushing looking at camera with sad face - from It Might Be You (1946)Crown Film Unit, It Might Be You (1946)

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5. He Wrote Embarrassing Letters 

Cushing desperately wanted to get into an acting school, so he wrote over 20 letters to a theater company for a scholarship. When he finally got a meeting, the director humiliated him. It turned out that he just wanted to tell Cushing to stop writing letters. He did have some luck though. 

The director was suddenly in need of a performer that night, and he let Cushing take the role. Cushing’s career was getting a healthy start. His love life, however, was about to be in tatters. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing reading a paper - from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)Hammer Films, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)

6. He Found Romance

More and more roles came Cushing’s way, and so did something else. While in Southampton he met 18-year-old Doreen Lawrence, and a romance blossomed. Soon Cushing was proposing marriage. Lawrence did say yes and then did a dramatic turn around. She heartlessly canceled the engagement and it was for not one but two humiliating reasons. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing with Carole Gray - from Island of Terror (1966)Planet Film Productions, Island Of Terror (1966)

7. He Was A Crier 

A cancelled engagement would be devastating for anyone, but Lawrence certainly had some shocking reasons for her decision. It turned out that she did not appreciate his fits of crying—I mean who would? The other reason was his parents. Apparently, he brought them with him on their dates. 

Luckily, all of this disappointment was for a reason. He hadn't met the true love of his life. That would come later.

Screenshot of Peter Cushing seating with sad face - from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)Hammer Films, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)

8. He Arrived With Nothing

After some considerable hardship, Cushing decided to give Hollywood a shot. You’d expect his father to again stand in his way, but this didn’t happen. In fact, dad bought Cushing his ticket. This wasn’t quite the kind act that you may think. The ticket was just one way. 

Cushing arrived in Hollywood with about $60 in cash, and no way to get home. It would be sink or swim. His first role in Hollywood would be both bizarre and utterly disappointing. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing hat is looking at side - from Island of Terror (1966)Planet Film Productions, Island Of Terror (1966)

9. He Stood In 

Cushing somehow found his way to Edward Small Productions, where they were about to film an exciting movie called The Man in the Iron Mask. This film had two lead roles, and—unfortunately for Cushing—one man was playing both. Instead of getting a part, Cushing got a job. 

He would be the stand in for the actor when both characters were in the same scene. To get his next role, Cushing would have to lie his pants off. Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing suit and looking at side - from Cone of Silence (1960)Aubrey Baring Productions, Cone Of Silence (1960)

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10. He Massaged The Truth 

As a stand-in on The Man in the Iron Mask, audiences would only ever see the back of Cushing’s head. Luckily, during filming, Cushing got a break. They needed an actor to do a small role that involved a sword fight. Cushing announced that he was very skilled at fencing. Well, this was a complete lie, and his scenes were awful. 

One thing that was true on his resume was a British accent, which ended up helping him in a surprising way. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing looking at side with sad face - from Cone of Silence (1960)Aubrey Baring Productions, Cone Of Silence (1960)

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11. His Was Glorified 

When comedy duo Laurel and Hardy made their spoof film A Chump at Oxford, United Artists was scouring Hollywood for anyone who sounded even a little bit British. They found Cushing and signed him on to play the role of “Student”. It was still a small part, but he finally had an actual role. It wasn’t without it’s trials, though 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing in white coat is looking at side - from It Might Be You (1946)Crown Film Unit, It Might Be You (1946)

12. He Experienced Great Kindness 

While filming A Chump at Oxford, Cushing had to fall into a pond with some other extras. After getting completely soaked, Cushing witnessed the kindness of Oliver Hardy. The star made a demand that the extras get fresh towels and clothes—and even a bunch of donuts—for their efforts. 

It was a rare moment of kindness in a business that was notoriously cutthroat. Sadly, this kindness was not enough. Cushing’s patience—and money—were running out and if he didn’t get a starring role he’d be broke. 

Oliver Hardy looking at side - 1938National Portrait Gallery, Wikimedia Commons

13. He Was Sick 

After A Chump at Oxford, Cushing’s roles started to grow beyond being an extra, but sadly not to lead actor. Cushing’s performance in a short film as a man contemplating taking his own life got him some positive attention. Probably his real depression helped. You see, Cushing was suffering from debilitating homesickness and just wanted to go back to England. Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing green coat is looking at front - from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)Hammer Films, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)

14. He Threw It All Away

With home on his mind, Cushing went to New York City to make some money. Once he got there, he started working on Broadway. Cushing did find some success in the theatre world—but sadly, his Broadway debut was a failure—his show closing after only 11 days. As soon as he could afford to buy his ticket, he headed home.

Sadly, it was destined to turn into a very dangerous place. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing suit is looking up - from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)Hammer Films, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)

15. He Had To Learn It Fast

Cushing returned home but WWII had broken out and Europe was in terrible trouble. Instead of fighting for his country, Cushing acted. An army touring company needed a last-minute replacement for the lead in a touring play, and Cushing stepped up. The only problem was that he had only four days to learn the entire script. 

Cushing did manage to learn those lines and was quickly rewarded. He got a small salary and something more. He found the woman of his dreams. Screenshot of Peter Cushing in suit looking at side - from Cone of Silence (1960)Aubrey Baring Productions, Cone Of Silence (1960)

16. He Made A Dramatic Decision 

Cushing’s co-star on this tour was Helen Beck and the two quickly fell in love. April 10, 1943 marks their wedding day, but the marriage was immediately put to the test. Cushing was suffering from lung congestion and had to make the dramatic decision to quit the tour. 

Beck could have walked away from her less than healthy new husband. Instead, she put her own life aside and worked on getting him better. Cushing had found the perfect wife, but he’d have to go to great lengths to keep her. Screenshot of Peter Cushing with Carole Gray - from Island of Terror (1966)Planet Film Productions, Island of Terror (1966)

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17. He Was Crafty 

Cushing was down on his luck and had no money to buy his wife even a small present. So, he had to get crafty—literally. Cushing decided to hand paint images of characters from Charles Dickens' stories on a piece of silk. It sounds a lot like a lame homemade gift you’d probably throw away, except for one thing. 

When a textile worker saw it, he offered Cushing a job designing scarves. His new job as a designer would keep Cushing and his wife afloat during these difficult times. However, there were more struggles in store for him.

Screenshot of Peter Cushing looking down upset - from Cone of Silence (1960)Aubrey Baring Productions, Cone Of Silence (1960)

18. He Went Big 

Cushing was still having financial trouble when he took a role in a very ambitious project. It was a stage version of the novel War and Peace. We all joke about how long Leo Tolstoy’s novel is. Well, Cushing’s stage version ended up being a whopping five five hours long. And, after all that rehearsal and line memorizing, the show tragically closed after just a few nights. 

War and Peace was a disaster, and so was Cushing’s next audition. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing green coat and hat is looking outside - from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)Hammer Films, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)

19. He Couldn’t Do It 

A huge break came when Cushing got to audition for esteemed actor and director Laurence Olivier. Although, this time Cushing’s British accent was no help. Olivier needed him to perform with an American accent, and Cushing’s attempt was a disaster. Olivier thanked Cushing for his time, and sent him on his way. 

This loss devastated Cushing, but happiness was just a phone call away. 

British Actor John Irving - 1939John Irving, Flickr

20. He Couldn't Talk 

Olivier remembered Cushing and called him up for his filmed adaptation of Hamlet. One scene had Cushing walking down some steps while talking with Olivier. Cushing was having trouble getting his lines out, and there was an embarrassing reason. 

A recent trip to the dentist was making him spit. Olivier didn’t care and just asked Cushing to “drown me”. Yuck. Cushing was a hit in Hamlet, and it paid off in a huge and unexpected way. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing looking at side - from The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)Hammer Films, The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)

21. He Disappeared 

Olivier’s Hamlet ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Picture and this was exactly what Cushing’s career so desperately needed. However, following this, he decided to take up Olivier on his offer to go on a year-long theater tour through Australasia. 

By the time he got back, everyone had forgotten his performance in Hamlet. Cushing had to scramble for his next role, and it would take him straight into controversy. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing black suit ,looking sad - from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)Hammer Films, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)

22. It Was Filth 

On his wife’s advice, Cushing dove right into TV roles and straight into controversy. This was a TV adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The show was so brutal that the government almost banned it. Luckily, the controversy just brought more attention to the show and to Cushing's performance. 

Cushing was now one of the biggest stars of British TV. But good old Cushing would even turn that into something negative. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing reading - from Cone of Silence (1960)Aubrey Baring Productions, Cone Of Silence (1960)

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23. He Was In A Corner 

Cushing was at the top of his game in the TV industry, but he found the work stressful and wanted to get back into film. But now he had a problem. His name was so closely connected to TV that a comedian once defined television as “Peter Cushing with knobs”. Cushing had painted himself into a corner. He didn’t want to do TV, and no one wanted him in a film. 

Surprisingly, the solution was right in front of his eyes. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing in black suit is looking at side - from The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)Hammer Films, The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)

24. It Was A Horror 

Cushing was at home sulking about being a TV star when an ad caught his eye. It turned out that a low budget studio was looking for actors to appear in a film version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Cushing was a huge fan of the novel, and contacted the producer. Cushing was ready to descend to the depths of low budget horror. 

As it turned out, he may have waited too long. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing in black suit is looking at side - from The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)Hammer Films, The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)

25. He Was Too Late 

One of the founders of Hammer Films, James Carreras, was a fan of Cushing, so he was delighted when Cushing showed interest in his film. The problem was Cushing was coming to him about two decades too late. The character of Dr Frankenstein was 20 years younger than Cushing’s 44 years. 

Cushing waited while Carreras made a decision between working with a star and being true to the novel. Cushing's career lay in his hands.

Screenshot of Peter Cushing in white suit is looking at side - from The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)Hammer Films, The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)

26. His Spine Tingled 

Well, Carreras did go with Cushing, and filming of The Curse of Frankenstein soon began. However, there was something very familiar about this particular set. It turned out that Cushing and his co-star—Christopher Lee—had been in three films together, but had somehow never actually met

Cushing and Lee would go on to make many more films together, but their friendship got off to a shaky start. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee - from The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)Hammer Films, The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)

27. He Confronted Him 

When they were just beginning to make The Curse of Frankenstein, Lee confronted Cushing with a complaint. He realized that, as the monster in the film, he had absolutely no lines. Maybe a few moans, but no lines. Cushing wasn’t put off by Lee’s verbal attack and calmly replied, “You’re lucky. I've read the script”. 

Yes, the script was only “meh," but the critical response was a complete surprise. 

Christopher Lee in Taste The Blood Of Dracula LeeInternet Archiv, Wikimedia Commons

28. He Was The First Of Many 

Well, The Curse of Frankenstein ended up being a huge hit, and critics actually praised Cushing’s performance. Later, some film experts even said that Cushing invented the mad scientist character that is a staple in many horror films. Cushing was crushing the horror movie industry, and Hammer was ready to take him even further into the darkness. 

Although, their next project definitely crossed a line. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing having a coffee - from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)Hammer Films, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)

29. It Was For Sadists 

Cushing’s next film with Hammer was The Revenge of Frankenstein. According to the horror film rules, a sequel has to somehow outdo its predecessor, so the director didn’t hold back. When they released it, the Daily Telegraph decided to create a new warning for this film: “For Sadists Only”. 

The Frankenstein franchise was scaring the pants off audiences, but Hammer wanted Cushing’s films to go even darker. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing in white shirt is looking at side - from The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)Hammer Films, The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)

30. He Needed Fangs 

Sure Frankenstein is scary, but Dracula is the one that really sends shivers up spines. Hammer Films wanted to add Dracula to the fold of their horror films, but they thought that Cushing wasn’t Vampire material. They decided to bring in Christopher Lee as Dracula, but that left Cushing high and dry. 

There was the character of Doctor Van Helsing available, but Hammer Films encountered a familiar problem.

Dracula (1958) Trailer - Christopher LeeHD Retro Trailers, Wikimedia Commons

31. He Flatly Refused 

Cushing’s age was once again working against him. Now he was too young for the role instead of too old. Make-up artists were standing by to make the transformation but Cushing—maybe feeling cocky from his new found success—refused. They decided to ignore the book and just make Van Helsing young

Hammer Films was just getting started at changing the source material, and Cushing's character ended up patching up some significant plot holes.

Screenshot of Peter Cushing looking at side - from Nothing But the Night (1973)Charlemagne Productions, Nothing But The Night (1973)

32. He Had Some Explaining To Do

Though the book said that Dracula could transform into a bat or wolf or fog, the studio chose to nix these details. Sadly, it was poor Cushing who had the embarrassing lines to explain these absences. His character just called them “common fallacies” and that was it. 

Dracula was still a colossal hit, and Hammer was eager to start a third franchise with Cushing. This wasn't going to be horror, so a very worried Cushing went to great lengths to make sure it was a success. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing suit is looking at front - from Island of Terror (1966)Planet Film Productions, Island Of Terror (1966)

33. He Went Overboard 

Sherlock Holmes was the next character on offer by Hammer, and Cushing took his role as the famous sleuth to the next level. Unlike most B-movie stars, Cushing did extensive research and even arranged for his own authentic costumes. Lee was also on board as his co-star and the stage was set for another successful Hammer Films series. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing in green coat is looking at side - from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)Hammer Films, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)

34. He Failed To Thrill 

Cushing had done his research to play Sherlock Holmes. What he should have done was research his fans. As it turned out, they didn’t really want to see Cushing unless there were also monsters in the movie. Cushing as Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles failed to thrill, and Hammer canceled the series after just one film. 

For his next role, it would be back to horror. But this film had one astonishing twist. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing in green coat is looking at side - from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)Hammer Films, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)

35. This Time It Was True 

In 1960’s The Flesh and the Friends, Cushing plays a mad doctor who pays a pair of serial killers for human cadavers. While this may sound a lot like Frankenstein, there was a huge and startling difference—it was based on a true story. This doctor actually existed, and the film raised awareness of the lack of bodies available for research. 

Cushing needed to prove that he could play more than mad doctors, so he went out on a limb with his next role—with hilarious results. Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing suit and glasses ,looking at side - from The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)Triad Productions, The Flesh And The Fiends (1960)

36. He Completely Fooled Her

In Violent Playground, Cushing plays a priest and while filming, a passerby saw Cushing in costume. She innocently asked him if he would pray for her. Cushing was so totally in character that he did just that. The woman walked away blessed and none the wiser. 

Cushing was soon back on more familiar ground, but this next character took “scary” to a whole different level. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing dressed like a priest - from Violent Playground (1958)The Rank Organisation, Violent Playground (1958)

37. They Couldn’t Go Alone 

In 1968’s Corruption, Cushing returned to playing a crazed physician. This one was just that much more extreme. You see, in order to get the fluid he needs to repair his girlfriend’s facial scars, the bad doctor had to ruthlessly take the lives of innocent women. It was so demented that the ad for the theatrical release said that "no woman will be admitted alone". 

Cushing was riding the wave of horror when suddenly horror entered his own real life. Screenshot of Peter Cushing in brown jacket is looking down - from Corruption (1968)Oakshire Productions, Corruption (1968)

38. He Wanted To End It 

All his life, Cushing had been a devoted husband to just one perfect woman. When Helen passed in 1971, it devastated him. Cushing became like one of his characters, desperate to stop the pain. He tried running up and down the stairs in a depressing attempt to have a heart attack and end his own life. You see, he just wanted to be with her.

However, he eventually discovered that Helen had left behind a letter for him—and its contents were life-altering.Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing suit and glasses ,looking at side - from The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)Triad Productions, The Flesh And The Fiends (1960)

39. She Warned Him 

Though Helen would not be able to grow old with Cushing, he would never forget her. She left behind a letter for him that encouraged him to keep going. Even years later, he was able to recite her words from memory. 

Helen wrote, "Do not pine for me, my beloved Peter, because that will cause unrest. Do not be hasty to leave this world, because you will not go until you have lived the life you have been given. AND REMEMBER we will meet again when the time is right…This is my promise…”Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing yellow shirt and hat is looking down - from Island of Terror (1966)Planet Film Productions, Island Of Terror (1966)

40. He Struggled To Recover

According to Cushing, it took him 13 years to fully recover from the loss of Helen. In one interview he confessed, "You can’t have had the experience and the love of a person such as Helen and then suddenly it’s not there anymore. It’s more than ¾ of your own self taken from you".

But their story didn't end there.

Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing suit and looking sad - from Nothing But the Night (1973)Charlemagne Productions, Nothing But The Night (1973)

41. He Never Showed His Face

In order to cope, Cushing threw himself into his work to distract him from his grief. He also turned to the vice of cigarettes for solace. But though Cushing made 32 TV and movie appearances from 1971 to 1983, there was one thing he refused to do. For this entire decade of frantic work, Cushing couldn’t bear to make a public appearance.

Losing his wife had absolutely floored him, but he did find a way to bring his very real grief to the screen.Screenshot of Peter Cushing seating and thinking - from The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)Hammer Films, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)

42. He Spoke To Her

In Cushing’s 1972 film Tales from the Crypt, the script called for his character to constantly talk to himself. Cushing instead suggested that his character speak to a photo of his late wife. This change to the script hit extremely close to home, and his real grief brought authenticity to his performance.

It also helped him take home a trophy for his work at the French Convention of Fantasy Cinema. Cushing’s mourning was not going anywhere fast, and it was about to mess with his career.

Screenshot of Peter Cushing looking upset - from Tales from the Crypt (1972)MPC, Tales from the Crypt (1972)

43. He Looked Bad

During the filming of Dracula AD 1972, Cushing showed up to the set looking terrible—so bad, in fact, that they quickly changed his role from father to grandfather. Dealing with losing his spouse had actually aged him. Clearly Cushing had to deal with his grief, and he finally did it in a very unusual—and public—way. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing standing outside - from Dracula A.D. (1972)Hammer Films, Dracula A.D. (1972)

44. He Wanted It Fixed

After many years, Cushing still mourned his wife’s passing. To get some relief, he appeared on a wish granting show called Jim’ll Fix It. Cushing told the audience that he had a very touching wish. He wanted a new rose strain to have his wife’s name. Well Jim did fix it, and a horticulturist created a beautiful flower called Helen Cushing Rose. 

Obviously, Cushing was an absolute sweetheart, but he’d soon need his evil face to terrify a new generation of new fans. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing seating in office and looking at side - from Nothing But the Night (1973)Charlemagne Productions, Nothing But The Night (1973)

45. He Needed His Face 

George Lucas was putting together a story and characters for a little movie he called Star Wars. Because his main villain was always in a mask, Lucas thought he should have a scary secondary villain who showed his face. Cushing was the perfect fit.

Cushing got the call from Lucas to be in Star Wars—and the project turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Screenshot of Peter Cushing in uniform - from Star Wars: Episode IV (1977)Twentieth Century Fox, Star Wars: Episode IV (1977)

46. He Got Bowled Over  

The thing was, Cushing didn’t really like science fiction movies, but Star Wars was different. He knew that audiences would love it. The cherry on the top was that even though his role was pretty small, he would be making more cash than most of the principal cast. 

Cushing was an expert at using his evil-looking face for scares, but there was something that almost undid his performance. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing in uniform and Carrie Fisher - from Star Wars: Episode IV (1977)Twentieth Century Fox, Star Wars- Episode Iv (1977)

47. He Was Too Nice

While doing scenes with Carrie Fisher in Star Wars, Fisher had a problem with Cushing. He was playing the evil Grand Moff Tarkin, and Fisher was having trouble trying to look like she hated him. She said that Cushing was so nice that she couldn’t act angry. 

An iconic film franchise like Star Wars only comes around once in a lifetime. If Cushing hadn't messed up, it could have been twice in a lifetime. 

Screenshot of Peter Cushing in uniform and Carrie Fisher - from Star Wars: Episode IV (1977)Twentieth Century Fox, Star Wars- Episode Iv (1977)

48. He Missed Out 

When John Carpenter was looking for some British sophistication for his iconic film Halloween, he approached Cushing. On advice from his agent Cuching said “no," so Carpenter moved on to hire Donald Pleasance. Pleasance went on to make a small fortune in no less than five Halloween films. Well, at least Cushing knew he was the first choice. 

For his entire life, Cushing thrived in the horror genre—but in truth, he wasn't exactly tailor-made for it.

Portrait of Donald Pleasence - 1973Politikwerft Designagentur , Flickr

49. He Had A Fear

For someone who specialized in horror movies there was something surprising that Cushing suffered from. He was nyctophobic, which is a fancy word for someone with an irrational fear of the dark. Imagine his die hard fans finding out the king of horror was afraid of the dark. He didn't even like watching horror flicks.

Cushing’s fear of darkness wasn’t the only surprising thing about Cushing. At his core, he was really just a child at heart. Screenshot of Peter Cushing writing a note - from The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)Triad Productions, The Flesh And The Fiends (1960)

50. He Laughed Too Hard

Peter Cushing and his friend Christropher Lee were the kings of horror, but they shared a very heartwarming interest. They both loved watching Looney Tunes cartoons. This helped cement their friendship, but even got them into trouble. Owners of a theater once had to ask the two grown men to leave because they were laughing too loud at Tweety and Sylvester. 

Cushing loved this juvenile pursuit, but he was about to face a very adult tragedy. 

Sylvester, & Tweety Bird - 2011Norman Z , Flickr

51. He Lived A Horror 

In 1982, one of Cushing’s eyes suddenly blew up to almost three times the usual size. Cushing rushed to the doctor and got the horrible news. He had prostate cancer and had just over a year left to live. Cushing surprised his doctors and gave a hard “no” to both surgery and chemotherapy. 

Cushing would face his cancer on his own terms, but there was one more secret he had left to reveal.

Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing black suit and looking at side - from The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)Triad Productions, The Flesh And The Fiends (1960)

52. He Cheated On His Wife

In one of his very last appearances on television, he told an interviewer something he'd never told anybody in the press. Apparently, though Cushing deeply loved his wife Helen, he had in fact cheated on her one time. Luckily she forgave him, and the beloved memory of her followed him right to the end.

Screenshot of Peter Cushing wearing coat and hat is looking down - from Island of Terror (1966)Planet Film Productions, Island Of Terror (1966)

53. He’s Still With Us 

Shockingly, despite his cancer diagnosis, Cushing went on to live another 12 years. On August 11, 1994, cancer did take Cushing’s life, but it wasn’t a final farewell. 

You can still see glimmers of Cushing's in performances today. Johnny Depp borrowed Cushing’s mannerisms as Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow and so did Doug Bradley when he played Pinhead. You could say that Cushing, like Dr Frankenstein, had created a monster that would live forever. 

Screenshot of Jonny Deep looking at front  - from Sleepy Hollow (1999)Paramount Pictures, Sleepy Hollow (1999)


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Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!


Warmest regards,



The Factinate team




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