The following memory is from a letter that I received from Donald Pleasence's former agent Joy Jameson. Jameson's agency represented Pleasence for over thirty years. Very special thanks to Ms. Jameson for taking time to pay tribute to the "Man with the Hypnotic Eye."
Dear Christopher Weedman,
I apologise for not replying to your letter of the 4th of August before now, but I have been on holiday.
This office represented Donald Pleasence for over thirty years and we probably spoke on a daily basis over those thirty years, so I think this tells you that we had a good relationship.
I was very interested to read Alan Bates' letter, and yes he was planning to do KING LEAR with three of his daughters, but I was rather surprised when I read Simon Gray's letter, where he mentions "an almost endless sequence of films that embarrassed him even more than they enriched him." It is interesting that a film like DEATH LINE, which was made over twenty years ago, was on television this week as "Film of the Day," and although it wasn't highly regarded at the time it is now something of a cult. I think we must also remember that most actors would be thrilled to only do fabulous work, but it is necessary to pay the rent.
I think Donald was one of the most generous people I have ever met. He was fair with settlements to all his ex-wives, and he was very generous to his children and grandchildren, so I think this also explains why he could not afford to do anything during the thirty year gap between the two productions of THE CARETAKER.
I was fortunate enough to have seen both productions and I think they were equally brilliant. In the first one Donald was a comparatively young man, and in the second he was the age that Davies actually is. He was brilliant.
It is also interesting that he is the best remembered villain from the BOND series, although he was only in one film and if you look carefully you'll see that he is mostly in shadow. This is because the makers didn't think he was quite right for the part of Blofeld!
It's hard to choose his best film but THE GREAT ESCAPE would have to be one of them, and I especially loved him as the ballroom-dancing waiter in John Mortimer's THE HEAD WAITER on television.