Donald Pleasence (5 October 1919 – 2 February 1995) was an iconic English film, television, and stage actor. His most notable film roles include Michael Myers-obsessed psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis in the Halloween series and the villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, usually stroking a white pussycat, in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.
Pleasence was born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire and raised in the small village of Grimoldby, Lincolnshire.
In 1939, Pleasence started working in repertory theatre, making his acting debut with the company as Hareton in Jane Eyre’s Wuthering Heights. During the Second World War, he was taken prisoner and placed in a German prisoner-of-war camp, where he produced and acted in plays. He would later play Flight Lieutenant Colin Blythe in The Great Escape.
In 1954 he received critical acclaim in a BBC TV version of George Orwell’s sci-fi nightmare novel 1984. The adaptation was by Nigel Kneale (Quatermass) and also starred Peter Cushing. In 1960, He received good notices as the tramp in Harold Pinter’s enigmatic play The Caretaker, a part he would again play in a 1990 revival (as seen by the author of this bio).
Pleasence provided the voice-over for the British Public Information Film, The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water in 1973. Intended to warn children of the dangers of playing near water, the film attained notoriety for allegedly giving children nightmares.
Pleasence’s first appearance in America was in 1962 in an episode of The Twilight Zone, playing an ageing and suicidal teacher at a boys’ school in the episode The Changing of the Guard. In 1963, he appeared in an episode of The Outer Limits entitled The Man With the Power.
Horror fans best know the actor as the obsessed Dr. Loomis in the Halloween slasher series but he appeared and later starred in many horror films, beginning with a memorable role as notorious grave robber William Hare in The Flesh and the Fiends.
The Flesh and the Fiends / Mania (UK, 1960)
Circus of Horrors (UK, 1960)
The Hands of Orlac (1960)
What a Carve Up! / No Place Like Homicide (UK, 1961)
Dr. Crippen (1963)
Eye of the Devil (1966)
Wake in Fright / Outback (Australia, 1971)
Death Line / Raw Meat (UK, 1972)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1973, TV movie)
Tales That Witness Madness (UK, 1973)
The Mutations / The Freakmaker (UK, 1973)
From Beyond the Grave (UK, 1974)
House of the Damned (Spain, 1974)
Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (Australia, 1975. Sex comedy with Pleasence as vampire Count Von Plasma)
I Don’t Want to be Born / The Monster (UK, 1975)
The Devil’s Men / Land of the Minotaur (Greece, 1976)
The Uncanny (UK, 1977)
The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (USA, 1978, TV movie. Narrator)
Halloween (USA, 1978)
Dracula (UK, 1979)
The Ghost Sontana (UK, 1980, BBC TV)
The Monster Club (UK, 1981)
Halloween II (USA, 1981)
Alone in the Dark (USA, 1982)
The Devonsville Terror (USA, 1983)
Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie (USA, 1984)
Phenomena (Italy, 1985)
Nothing Underneath (Italy, 1985)
Into the Darkness (UK, 1986)
Specters (Italy, 1987)
Off Balance (Italy, 1988)
Vampire in Venice (Italy, 1988)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (USA, 1988)
The House of Usher (filmed in South Africa, 1989)
Paganini Horror (Italy, 1989)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (USA, 1989)
Buried Alive (filmed in South Africa, 1990)
Shadows and Fog (USA, 1991)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (USA, 1995)
Fatal Frames (Italy, 1996)
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