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Patrick Macnee
Antonio Margheriti
Chris Marker
Hugh Marlowe
William Marshall
Arlene Martel
Ross Martin
Richard Matheson
Sir Paul McCartney
Roddy McDowall
Leo McKern
Lee Meriwether
Ricardo Montalban
Agnes Moorhead
Billy Mumy
Eddie Murphy
 
MCDOWALL, RODDY
(Roderick McDowall 1928–1998). British actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in films: Macbeth (Orson Welles 1948); The Greatest Story Ever Told (George Stevens 1965); It! (Herbert J. Leder 1966); Hello Down There (Jack ARNOLD 1968); Planet of the Apes (Franklin J. SCHAFFNER 1968); Beneath the Planet of the Apes (voice only) (Ted Post 1969); Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Robert STEVENSON 1971); Escape from the Planet of the Apes (Don Taylor 1971); Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (J. Lee THOMPSON 1972); The Legend of Hell House (John Hough 1973); Arnold (George Fenady 1973); Battle for the Planet of the Apes (Thompson 1974); Embryo (Ralph Nelson 1976); Rabbit Test (Joan Rivers 1978); Laserblast (Michael Rae 1978); The Cat from Outer Space (Norman Tokar 1978); Circle of Iron [The Silent Flute] (Richard Howard 1978); Nutcracker Fantasy (Takeo Nakamura 1979); The Black Hole (voice only) (Gary Nelson 1979); Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (Clive Donner 1981); Fright Night (Tom HOLLAND 1985); Zoo Ship (Richard Shorr 1985); Doin' Time on Planet Earth (Charles Matthau 1988); Cutting Class (Rospo Pallenberg 1989); Shakma (Hugh Parks and Tom Logan 1990); Fright Night II (Tommy Lee Wallace 1990); Carmilla (Gabrielle Beaumont 1990); Mirror Mirror 2: Raven Dance (Jimmy Lifton 1994); Star Hunter (video) (Cole S. McKay and Fred Olen RAY 1995); The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo (Duncan McLachlan 1997); Unlikely Angel (Michael Switzer 1996).

Acted in television: "The Good Fairy" (1956), episode of Hallmark Hall of Fame; "O'Hoolihan and the Leprechaun" (1956), episode of General Electric Theater; "The Woman with Red Hair" (1958), episode of Suspicion; "The Tempest" (1960), episode of George Schaefer's Showcase Theatre; "People Are Alike All Over" (1960), episode of The Twilight Zone (1960); "See the Monkey Dance," "The Gentleman Caller" (1964), episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; "The Bookworm Turns/While Gotham City Burns" (1966), episodes of Batman; "The Experiment" (1967), episode of The Invaders (1967); "The Killing Bottle" (1968), episode of Journey to the Unknown; Night Gallery (tv movie) (Boris SAGAL, Steven SPIELBERG, and Barry Shear 1969); A Taste of Evil (tv movie) (John Llewellyn Moxie 1971); "The Puppet" (1972), episode of Mission Impossible; Topper Returns (tv movie) (Hy Averback 1973); Miracle on 34th Street (tv movie) (Fielder Cook 1973); Planet of the Apes (tv series) (1974); The Fantastic Journey (tv series) (1977); "The Man Who Made Volcanoes" (1977), "The Final Art of Crime" (1978), episodes of Wonder Woman; "The Devil and Mr. Roarke" (1981), episode of Fantasy Island; The Thief of Baghdad (tv movie) (Clive Donner 1978); "Planet of the Slave Girls" (1979), episode of Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century; The Thief of Bagdad (tv movie) (Clive Donner 1978); "The Green Girl" (1979), episode of Supertrain; "Dr. Morkenstein" (voice) (1979), episode of Mork and Mindy; The Martian Chronicles (tv movie) (Michael ANDERSON 1979); Judgement Day (tv movie) (Alan J. Levi 1981); "Rapunzel" (1981), episode of Faerie Tale Theatre; Tales of the Gold Monkey (tv series) (1983); The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood (tv movie) (Ray Austin 1984); Alice in Wonderland (tv movie) (Harry Harris 1985); "H.E.N.R.I. VIII" (voice) (1986), episode of The Wizard; Around the World in Eighty Days (tv miniseries) (1989); The Magical World of Chuck Jones (tv documentary) (George Daugherty 1991); Earth Angel (tv movie) (Joe Napolitano 1991); Deadly Game (Thomas J. Wright 1991); "A Leap for Lisa" (1992), episode of Quantum Leap; The Alien Within [Unknown Origin] (tv movie) (Scott Levy 1995); Behind the Planet of the Apes (tv documentary; host) (Kevin Burns and David Comtois 1998).

Provided voice for animated films and tv series: The Return of the King ... A Story of the Hobbits (tv movie) (Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass 1979); The Wind in the Willows (tv movie) (Rankin and Bass 1986); Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords (1986); "Mad as a Hatter," "Perchance to Dream" (1992), episodes of Batman: The Animated Series; "Inherit the Wimp" (1993), episode of Darkwing Duck; "Enter the Madkat" (1993), episode of Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron; Red Planet (animated miniseries) (1994); "Tick vs. the Breadmaster" (1994), episode of The Tick; "Trial," "Lock-Up" (1994), episodes of Batman: The Animated Series; "The New Olympians," "Seeing Isn't Believing" (1996), episodes of Gargoyles; "Apocalypse Not" (1996), episode of Duckman; "Snowball" (1996), "Brainwashed, Part 2: I Am Not A Hat," "Brainwashed, Part 3: Wash Harder" (1998), episodes of Pinky and the Brain; "Knight Time" (animated; voice) (1998), episode of Superman; A Bug's Life (animated; voice) (John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton 1998).

Directed: The Devil's Widow [Tam Lin] (1971).

 
There are many strange and sad stories to tell about Tinseltown, but few are stranger and sadder than the story of Roddy McDowall. He was a star as a child actor, but grew to adulthood realizing that he would never be a star again. As he found it harder and harder to keep getting roles in major films, he lost an almost-guaranteed and potentially career-reviving Academy Award for his supporting role in Cleopatra (1963) when he wasn't nominated due to someone's stupid mistake. A potential move into directing ended after one, disastrously unsuccessful film, and his efforts to keep working soon transformed him into a mainstay of science fiction, fantasy, and horror films and television, almost inevitably in minor, and sometimes mortifying, roles. At a stage in his life when lifelong actors should be receiving honors and shining triumphantly in occasional starring roles, he was hard at work providing voices for television cartoons like Darkwing Duck and Pinky and the Brain.

All right, you say, there are many performers in or destined for this volume whose careers followed similarly downward trajectories. But damnit, Roddy McDowall was a really good, and at times brilliant, actor, so that you constantly wondered why he was the fourth banana instead of the star. After all, there were few performers in Hollywood who could be intelligently cast both as the Devil (in an episode of Fantasy Island) and as Saint Peter (in Unlikely Angel), and few who could have provided a persuasive performance, and served as the solid foundation for an enduring film franchise, while buried under ape makeup. If he was simply asked to fidget, as was often the case, he would do it with unfailing stamina; but he could do a dazzling variety of other things as well, however rare those opportunities might have been. Most astonishingly, he always appeared to enjoy the miserable genre movies and television shows he found himself in, appeared to be perfectly happy just where he was, even when that couldn't possibly have been the case.

There is therefore a mystery in McDowall's career that the available biographical data cannot resolve. We are told that he was a tremendously popular fellow in Hollywood among the stars who welcomed him into their homes as a party guest and a photographer (which became a second career for him). Yet he was visibly stepped on often enough to suggest that he was greatly disliked as well. Rod SERLING's The Twilight Zone relentlessly reused the talented actors it attracted; McDowall was effective in one first-season episode, but never returned. In Batman, he was appropriately larger than life as the villainous Bookworm, but unlike other first-season Bat-villains, he was never asked to play the part again. One consistently observes McDowall in small roles playing opposite lesser talents in larger roles that he would have been ideal for. What were the casting directors thinking? Was there some desire to deliberately humiliate the man, as punishment for his early successes or his unchronicled personal failings? Having been treated like dirt for so long, was there a dark satirical intent in hiring McDowall as the voice of "Mr. Soil" in A Bug's Life?

We may forever wonder why he wasn't given more to do, but we will always be able to appreciate what he was allowed to do: in the Planet of the Apes films, his most memorable performances; in the Fright Night films, where he convincingly functioned a father-figure for the genre of horror movies; in The Legend of Hell House, where the role of a man scarred by a horrific experience in his childhood may have seemed especially poignant to him; and in innumerable lesser films sporadically energized by his presence. No matter what Hollywood thought of him, in my book, he will always be a star.

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