A Tribute to Roddy McDowall
Roddy McDowall always displayed such energy and youthfulness, even well after his years as a child actor were over, that it’s hard to believe he was 70 years old when he died. The diagnosis of terminal cancer was made only a few months before his death, so there wasn’t much time for his fans to prepare.
Roddy’s career began at the age of 10, when he appeared in the English film Scruffy, and continued after he escaped to the U.S. from the land of his birth in 1940 in order to escape the German bombings of WWII. He ended up appearing in over 150 films.
Roddy was also a respected still photographer, with five books of photographs to his credit. His collection of movies and movie memorabilia is one of the finest private collections in the world. In fact, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences just named their photo library The Roddy McDowall Photograph Archive at the Margaret Herrick Library, in honor of his services to the Academy, particularly in the area of film preservation.
Roddy was primarily known as a character actor after making the successful transition from child star (How Green Was My Valley, My Friend Flicka, and Lassie Come Home). Though best known today for his continuing role as Cornelius in the Planet of the Apes series, he also turned in solid performances in films such as The Loved One, Inside Daisy Clover, Cleopatra, and Dead of Winter.
This tribute was originally written at the time of Roddy’s death in 1998. We’ll begin with several dedicated sites on the Web, several of them written after he died.
Roddy McDowall Tributes/Pages
- A Tribute to Roddy McDowall – “Everything you ever wanted to know about this man…” includes a large photo gallery. Site by Roxanne Mills.
Selected Film Pages/Reviews of Roddy McDowall Films
- The Big Country – From J & C Movie Reviews.
- Dead of Winter (1987) – Review by Roger Ebert.
- How Green Was My Valley – From June Parker Beck (Maureen O’Hara site).
- The Longest Day – From Variety.com
- Planet of the Apes (1968) – Review by Nick Hilditch from BBC.