USA TODAY OBITUARY:

Donald Pleasence: Lovable Underneath All That Lurking




PLEASENCE: "I only make odd films," he said in 1983.



OBITUARY BY ARLENE VIGODA



British actor Donald Pleasence, best known for sinister roles in nearly 100 movies, including tormented psychiatrist Sam Loomis in the Halloween horror flicks, died Thursday at his home in the south of France. He was 75.

Pleasence had undergone surgery recently to replace a heart valve, according to his agent, Tessa Sutherland, but she didnít know the cause of his death. "We talked to him last night and he seemed well," Sutherland said.

He made his stage debut in England in 1939, playing Hareton in Wuthering Heights. He served in the Royal Air Force, spending a year in a German prison camp. Two decades later, in 1963, he appeared in the classic POW movie The Great Escape.

In 1951, he made his New York stage debut with Laurence Olivierís company, playing in Caesar and Cleopatra and Antony and Cleopatra at the Ziegfeld.

Pleasence began appearing in films in the mid-50s, specializing in playing villains with a fixed gaze in his unblinking, beady, pale blue eyes.

Films include A Tale of Two Cities, Look Back in Anger and Soldier Blue. He also played the villain Blofeld in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

In 1960, he won critical acclaim for his performance as the malodorous tramp Davies in Harold Pinterís The Caretaker, winning the London Criticsí Award. He repeated the role on Broadway the following year and reprised the role in London in 1991.

Beginning in the late 70s, Pleasence appeared in countless low-budget horror and occult films including four of the Halloween slasher movies as well as The Devonsville Terror, Phantom of Death, Alone in the Dark, Prince of Darkness, River of Death, Buried Alive, Creepers, The Devil Within Her and The House of Usher.

"I only make odd films," he told The Times of London in a 1983 interview.

But despite his quirky, offbeat characters, Pleasence had a strong following.

"Iím a kind of lovable figure, really," he said. "Iím loved by middle-aged women. When men stop me in the street for my autograph itís always for their wives, who must be about 50."

He is survived by his fourth wife, Linda, and five daughters.




Obituary is from the February 3, 1995 edition of the USA TODAY.

Obituary © 1995 USA TODAY. All Rights Reserved.

Photo © 1981 UNIVERSAL PICTURES / DINO DE LAURENTIIS CORP. All Rights Reserved.

Title and logo designed by Karen Rappaport




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