Donald Pleasence

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Donald Henry Pleasence, OBE, (5 October 1919 – 2 February 1995) was an English actor who gained more than 200 screen credits during his long career. Although he often found himself typecast as villainous and/or psychopathic characters, Pleasence is possibly best known for his work in two of cinema's most enduringly successful franchises: the James Bond and Halloween series.


Early life

Pleasence was born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England, the son of Alice (née Armitage) and Thomas Stanley Pleasence, a railway stationmaster.[2] He was brought up in the small village of Grimoldby, Lincolnshire, and raised a strict Methodist.[3] Pleasence attended Ecclesfield Grammar School, in Sheffield, Yorkshire, and subsequently dropped out to work as a railway clerk, whilst looking for a job as an actor.[3] His acting career began in a production of Wuthering Heights, but was interrupted by World War II. He was at first a conscientious objector, but later changed his stance and was commissioned into the Royal Air Force, serving with 166 Squadron, RAF Bomber Command. His Avro Lancaster was shot down on 31 August 1944 during a raid on Agenville.[4] He was taken prisoner and placed in a German prisoner-of-war camp, where he produced and acted in plays. He later played Flight Lt. Colin Blythe in The Great Escape where much of the story takes place inside a German POW camp.


Pleasence returned to acting after the war, and critics began to call him the "Man with the Hypnotic Eye". Equipped with a shiny bald head and a quiet but intense voice to go with his trademark penetrating gaze, he specialised in portraying insane or evil characters, including Prince John in several episodes of the ITV series The Adventures of Robin Hood (1956–1958), a violent alcoholic homosexual Doc Tydon in Wake in Fright (1971), Heinrich Himmler in The Eagle Has Landed (1976), and the Bond arch-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice (1967), the first film in which the villain's face is clearly seen.

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