Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Richard Todd

Last updated 18 September 2014


Richard Todd (1919-2009)
(this image appears for illustrative purposes only and no attempt is made to supersede any copyright attributed to it)

Richard Andrew Palethorpe-Todd

Born: Wed 11th June 1919
Died: Thu 3rd December 2009 (age: 90)

IMDB
Wikipedia


Richard Todd OBE  was an Irish-born British stage and film actor and soldier.

He played Sanders in the 1982 story Kinda

Richard Todd was born in DublinIreland. His father, Andrew William Palethorpe Todd, was an Irish physician and an internationalIrish rugby player who gained three caps for his country. Richard spent a few of his childhood years in India, where his father, a British officer, served as an army physician.

Later his family moved to West Devon and Todd attended Shrewsbury School. Upon leaving school, Todd trained for a potential military career at Sandhurst before inaugurating his acting training at the Italia Conti Academy.

This change in career led to estrangement from his mother. When he learned, aged 19, she had committed suicide, he admitted in later life that he had not grieved long for her.

He first appeared professionally as an actor at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park in 1936 in a production of Twelfth Night. He played in regional theatres and then co-founded the Dundee Repertory Theatre in 1939.

On 6 June 1944, as a captain, he participated in the British Airborne Operation Tongaduring the D-Day landings. Todd was among the first British officers to land inNormandy as part of Operation Overlord. His battalion were reinforcements that parachuted in after glider forces had landed and completed the main assault againstPegasus Bridge near Caen.  He later met up with Major John Howard on Pegasus Bridge and helped repel several German counter attacks. During the Second World War, Todd joined the British Army, receiving a commissionin 1941. Initially, he served in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry before joining the Parachute Regiment and being assigned to the 7th (Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion as part of the British 6th Airborne Division.

As an actor, Todd would later play Howard in the 1962 film The Longest Day, while Todd himself was played by another actor.

After the war, Todd returned to repertory theatre in the UK. A film contract with Associated British followed in 1948. He had appeared in the Dundee Repertory stage version of The Hasty Heart, playing the role of Yank and was subsequently chosen to appear in the 1948 London stage version of the play, this time in the leading role of Cpl. Lachlan McLachlan. This led to his being cast in that role in the Warner Bros. film adaptation of the play, which was filmed in England. Todd was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the role in 1949.

He later appeared in The Dam Busters (1955) as Wing Commander Guy Gibson, probably the role for which he is best known. Americans remember Todd for his role as the United States Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall in the film version ofCatherine Marshall's best selling biography, A Man Called Peter. Todd was the first choice of author Ian Fleming to playJames Bond in Dr. No, but a scheduling conflict gave the role to Sean Connery. In the 1960s, Todd unsuccessfully attempted to produce a film of Ian Fleming's The Diamond Smugglers and a television series based on true accounts of the Queen's Messengers.

In 1953, he appeared in a BBC Television adaptation of the novel Wuthering Heights, as Heathcliff. Nigel Kneale, responsible for the adaptation, said the production came about purely because Todd had turned up at the BBC and told them that he would like to play Heathcliff for them. Kneale had to write the script in only a week as the broadcast was rushed into production.

In 1964 he was a member of the jury at the 14th Berlin International Film Festival.

In the 1970s, he gained new fans when he appeared as the reader for Radio Four's Morning Story. In the 1980s his distinctive voice was heard as narrator of the series Wings Over The World, a show about the history of aviation shown on Arts & Entertainment television. He appears before the camera in the episode about the Lancaster bomber. Todd continued to act on television, including roles in Virtual Murder and Silent Witness.

His active acting career extended into his eighties. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1993.

Both Todd's marriages ended in divorce. His first was to actress Catherine Grant-Bogle, whom he met in Dundee Repertory and was married to from 1949 until 1970; they had a son Peter (1952�2005) and a daughter Fiona. He was married to model Virginia Mailer from 1970 until 1992; they had two sons, Andrew and Seamus (1977�1997). In retirement, Todd lived in the village of Little Ponton and later in Little Humby, 8 miles from Grantham.

Two of Todd's four children committed suicide. In 1997, Seamus Palethorpe-Todd shot himself in the head in the family home in Lincolnshire. An inquest heard the suicide might have been a depressive reaction to the drug he was taking for severe acne. On 21 September 2005, Peter killed himself with a shotgun in East Malling, Kent, following marital difficulties.

His sons' suicides affected Todd profoundly; he admitted to visiting their adjoining graves regularly. He told the Daily Mail, that dealing with those tragedies was like his experience of war, "You don't consciously set out to do something gallant. You just do it because that is what you are there for."

Todd, with his own military record, was a keen supporter of remembrance events especially those associated with the Normandy landings and the Dambusters. He continued to be identified in the public consciousness with Guy Gibson, the role he played in The Dambusters.

Todd appeared at many Dambusters' anniversaries at Derwent Dam. His final appearance was in May 2008 with Les Munro (the last surviving pilot from the raid on the Ruhr dams).

The actor also narrated at least one TV documentary about The Dambusters and contributed forewords to many books on the subject, including The Dam Busters by Jonathan Falconer (2003), Filming The Dam Busters by Jonathan Falconer (2005) and most recently Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis by Iain Murray (2009).

Biography from the Wikipedia article, licensed under CC-BY-SA