Roddy McDowall

From Academic Kids

Roderick Andrew Anthony Jude McDowall (sometimes written MacDowall) (September 17, 1928October 3, 1998) was a British actor.

He was born in London to a family enthusiastic about the theatre, and made his first film appearance at the age of ten. It was as "Huw" in How Green Was My Valley (1941) that he made his name, and he appeared in many other films as a child actor, including The White Cliffs of Dover (1944) and Lassie Come Home (1943) where he co-starred (in what would be one of many occasions) opposite lifelong friend Elizabeth Taylor.

McDowall was one of the few child actors to continue his career successfully into adulthood, but it was usually in character roles, notably in four of the five original Planet of the Apes movies (1968-1973). Other film appearances included The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974). He also appeared on stage and television.

He played a character villain, "The Bookworm", in the camp 1960s TV series Batman and had an acclaimed recurring role as The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series.

In 1974, the FBI raided the home of McDowall and seized the actor's collection of films and television series. His collection consisted of 160 16mm prints and over 10,000 videocassettes (this was before the era of VCRS and VHS tapes). McDowall had bought Errol Flynn's home movies and the prints of his directorial debut Tam Lin (1970) starring Ava Gardner and transferred them all to tape for longer-lasting film. McDowall was forthcoming about some of the individuals he had dealt with on the black market: Rock Hudson, Dick Martin, and Mel Torme were some of the celebrities that were interested in his creations. No charges were pressed against McDowall.

During the 1990's, McDowall became active in film preservation and was active in the preserving of Cleopatra (1963), (co-incidentially, in which he co-starred) which had been severly cut by 20th Century Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck after skyrocketing production costs.

McDowall served for several years in various capacities on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that presents the Oscar. He was Chairman of the Actors Branch for 5 terms. He was elected President of the Academy Foundation the year he died.

He also received recognition as a photographer and published five books of photographs, one being of his celebrity friends such as Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland.

He died in Studio City, California from lung cancer.

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