Friday, 17 August 2012


Did you know: PETER CUSHING played HORATIO?

Horatio Nelson to be precise. The date was November 16, 1955. The place was the Empire cinema, Leicester Square in London for the Royal Premiere of the feature film "Cockleshell Heroes" directed by and starring José Ferrer. Co-written by Bryan Forbes, the film tells the true story of a daring British commando raid by canoe on German blockade runners at Bordeaux in December, 1942. Attending the premiere were: Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Wilding, Jack Hawkins with his wife Doreen (who was once engaged to Peter Cushing), Michael Denison, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Robert Beattie, Clement Attlee and his wife, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Gloucester. Major Herbert "Blondie" Haslar and William Edward "Bill" Sparks, the sole Marine survivors of the famous 1942 canoe raid, also attended with members of their families. 

Before the feature attraction, guests were treated to a lavish prologue conceived by producer Jess Yates called: "Fanfare For Heroes". This live prologue included a mock commando raid, utilizing a handful of Marines in such a way to make their numbers appear more vast. Included amongst the 300 performers of "Fanfare For Heroes" was none other than Peter Cushing. The cover of "To Day's Cinema" showcases Cushing dressed in costume as Lord Horatio Nelson. In addition, the producers of "Cockleshell Heroes", Irving Allen and Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli (Warwick Film Productions), published a letter of thanks and singled out Cushing as a "distinguished artiste" in connection with the prologue. 

Christopher Lee was cast in the film "Cockleshell Heroes" as Submarine Commander Alan Grieves. Lee, Cushing and Ferrer had all previously worked together on John Huston's "Moulin Rouge" in 1952. Cushing and Lee (though not on screen together in the Huston film) wouldn't appear in the same film again until Hammer's "The Curse of Frankenstein" in 1957, which made them both instant film stars.

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