Harold Pinter, John Mortimer, and Joanna Lumley were among writers and actors who attended the memorial service yesterday for Donald Pleasence, who died in February, aged 75.
Pleasence, a mesmerising actor with famously unblinking eyes and a mastery of understatement, was best known for playing villains and psychopaths from Dr. Crippen to Blofeld. Yesterday's service was intended as a celebration of a man who was nothing like his villains; it ended with a Beatles song, All You Need Is Love.
Mr. Mortimer was among those who reminisced about long-standing friendships. Mr. Pinter said that Pleasence had given "one of the greatest performances of the 20th century" in his play, The Caretaker. That play, in which he played Davies the tramp, had launched Pleasence's career in 1960. He went on to make more than 250 films, though he claimed to have lost count.
The service was held at the Comedy Theatre in central London, where Pleasence took his final bow on a British stage in 1991 in The Caretaker. One reviewer wrote of that performance: "It is impossible to take your eyes off him."
Linda, his widow, was there with Pleasence's five daughters from his four marriages, and his grandchildren. The service was staged by Sandra Lean, fourth wife of the late Sir David Lean.
Webmaster note: The following is a small notice about the memorial service from the same edition of THE TIMES.
MEMORIAL MEETING: Mr. Donald Pleasence
A celebration of the life of Mr. Donald Pleasence was held at the Comedy Theatre, SW1, yesterday. Mr. Peter Howitt presided. Mr. Harold Pinter, Mr. John Mortimer, QC, Mrs. Lucienne Hill, Mr. Barry Foster and Voytek were the speakers. Among those present were: Mrs. Pleasence (widow), Miss Angela Pleasence, Miss Lucy Pleasence, Miss Polly Pleasence, Miss Miranda Pleasence and Miss Nicola Pleasence (daughters), other members of the family and many friends.
Articles from the October 6, 1995 edition of THE TIMES.