Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Donald Pleasance

Donald Pleasance was born on October 3, 1919 in Nottinghamshire, England, the son of Alice Armitage and Thomas Stanley Pleasance, a stationmaster.

Donald Pleasance began his acting career on the London Stage in 1939, in a production of Wuthering Heights.

However, his acting career was interrupted by World War II. He joined the Royal Air Force and served with the 166 Squadron, RAF Bomber Command. His Avro Lancaster was shot down on August 31, 1944 during a raid on Agenville. He was taken prisoner of war and placed in a German prisoner-of-war camp, Stalag Luft I near the Baltic Sea. While a prisoner of war, he organized a theatre company in order to pass the time. His productions included The Petrified Forest.

In the movie The Great Escape (1963), he played prisoner of war Flight Lt. Colin Blythe "The Forger." He was the only star of The Great Escape to actually have been a World War II prisoner of war. Hannes Messemer who played Col. Lugo, the camp commander, was a German soldier in WWII and was captured by the American troops and held in a POW camp until the end of the war.

When he kindly offered advice to director John Sturges, he was politely asked to keep his "opinions" to himself. Later, when another star from the film informed Sturges that Pleasence had actually been an RAF officer in a World War II German POW camp, Sturges requested Pleasance's technical advice and input on historical accuracy from that point forward.

After World War II, Donald Pleasance returned to acting.

He portrayed Ernst Stavor Blofeld in James Bond's You Only Live Twice (1967).

He would also play Dr. Sam Loomis in six of the Halloween movies.

Donald Pleasance other notable movie roles include A Tale of Two Cities (1958), Killers of Kilimanjaro (1959), Suspect (1960), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Arthur, Arthur (1969), Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), Oh, God (1977), Dracula (1979) and Escape from New York (1981).

Donald Pleasance also had a successful career on Broadway appearing in Wise Child, The Man in a Glass Booth, Poor Bitos, The Caretaker, Antony and Cleopatra, and Caesar and Cleopatra.

He received four Tony award nominations for Wise Child, The Man in the Glass Booth, Poor Bitos and The Caretaker.

Donald Pleasance also appeared frequently on televison. His television appearances include Mrs. Columbo, Centennail, Columbo, Hawaii Five 0, The Fugitive and The Defenders.

Donald Pleasance in his 42 year career appeared in more than 200 movies and televison shows.

Donald Pleasance died on February 2, 1995 from complications after a heart valve replacement.

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