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Roddy McDowell - Dead At 70

05 October 1998  |  Written by   

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The English-born actor Roddy McDowell has died just two weeks after announcing to a shocked Hollywood that he was terminally ill with cancer. The 70-year-old star of Planet of the Apes died on Saturday at his home in California and leaves behind an eclectic mix of theatre, television and screen work.
A gifted actor, producer and director, McDowell was evacuated to the States from London during World War II and achieved fame as child actor alongside Elizabeth Taylor in Lassie Come Home (1943). They became lifelong friends (McDowell popping up as a mad Roman emperor in the Taylor epic Cleopatra) but he the child-star tag stuck and he sought refuge on Broadway throughout the fifties. His career shifted into top gear with the release of Planet of the Apes (1968), playing the intellectual simian Cornelius who befriended Charlton Heston. McDowell starred in three of the blockbuster's four sequels and later cut a niche in the horror genre with his campy performance in Fright Night (1985) playing a vampire-hunting TV chat show host.

McDowell's true love, however, was photography and he was on The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (AMPAS) board of governors since 1992. In memory of McDowell's work, AMPAS today announced they would name their photo archive library after him.

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