Character actor who, after several years of stage work in his native England, made his screen debut in the US with a supporting part in James Whale's The Man in the Iron Mask (1939). Cushing played in several other American films before returning home during WWII and eventually became a member of Laurence Olivier's acting company at the Old Vic Theater. His return to film acting came with Osric in Olivier's telling of Hamlet (1948). He continued acting in cinema regularly on both sides of the Atlantic, beginning with John Huston's biopic of Toulouse-Lautrec, Moulin Rouge (1952), and carried on with The Black Knight (1954) and Joseph Losey's Time Without Pity (1956). Cushing also distinguished himself in the early days of British TV in adaptations of "1984," "Pride and Prejudice" and "Beau Brummell."
Cushing's big break came when Hammer Studios, noting the popularity of old horror movies on TV in the 1950s, decided to revive the genre with a series of remakes of earlier classics. Cushing, with his thin lips, piercing stare and unusually high cheekbones, proved ideal for the part of Dr. Frankenstein in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), and it transformed his career. Cushing became, along with Christopher Lee and Vincent Price, one of the reigning kings of screen terror.
Having tackled the Frankenstein myth, Hammer, Cushing and Lee next set their sights on Dracula. Over the next two decades, Cushing would play both Frankenstein and Van Helsing several times, and in more than 30 horror films would generally alternate between crafty, sometimes insane but always well-spoken villains and sturdily heroic doctors and investigators forced to confront monsters.
Cushing made, not surprisingly, an excellent Sherlock Holmes opposite Lee's villainous Baskerville in a remake of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) and the dynamic duo would team up almost 20 times in several films (Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, 1965, I, Monster, 1972, The Creeping Flesh, 1973, Count Dracula and His Vampire Brides, 1973, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, The House of Long Shadows, 1983, The Skull, 1965, Scream and Scream Again, 1970). Through the mid-60s Cushing played good roles in non-horror films but by the end of the decade was typed almost exclusively in fright fare. Later films included Star Wars (1977) and Biggles: Adventures in Time (1986).
Biography from Baseline's Encyclopedia of Film