Richard Todd OBE
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By the late Sixties Todd concentrated on character roles and returned to the theatre, his first love. It was rumoured that he was the first choice of author Ian Fleming to play James Bond in "Dr. No" but a scheduling conflict gave the role to Sean Connery. During the late Sixties, he appeared in West End productions such as Oscar Wilde’s ‘An Ideal Husband’. Like all the 50s male stars, Todd struggled to find effective roles in films during the 1960’s, often playing roles as high-ranking officers, overshadowed by American leads, as in ‘Operation Crossbow’ (1965) . He resumed his stage career and was also regularly seen on television.  

More recently the actor's achievements included stage actor and producer. Todd lists Equus as his favorite stage production, though it's likely that his eight-year run in the Mayfair Theatre presentation The Business of Murder was kinder to his bank account. In 1986, Richard Todd published ‘Caught in the Act’, the first volume of his memoirs.

In 1991, he appeared in a character role in the international co-production Incident at Victoria Falls, featuring Christopher Lee as Sherlock Holmes and Patrick MacNee as Dr. Watson. Todd occasionally appeared in episodes of American and British television productions such as ‘The Danny Thomas Hour’ (1967) and ‘Doctor Who’ (1982).

He also recently returned to public attention under very tragic circumstances. In December 1997, his 20-year-old son Seamus Palethorpe-Todd (from his second marriage) committed suicide. In a series of articles written for The Sunday Times the actor ascribed the death to the bleak circumstances facing young people in contemporary Britain.

"Since he took his life after only one term at university, I have begun to wonder whether his tragedy is related to the predicament that so many young people find themselves in nowadays, forced to live miserably, unhealthily, and in debt in order to achieve a university degree that is no longer even a fairly sure guarantee of employment at any level."

Todd added,

‘His death has severely taxed my faith in the goodness of God and my belief in the hereafter. I miss him desperately, and I still call his name out loud and talk to him every day.’

Then, as if this father had not suffered enough, Peter, Richards eldest son from his first marriage, shot himself on 21 September 2005 - the same method his half-brother Seumas had used 8 years earlier. Peter's reason was that his marriage was ending.

Richard then worked on TV and in the last few years had appeared in ‘Heartbeat’, ‘Holby City’, ‘The Royal’ and ‘Midsomer Murders’. He had a distinguished career in both theatre, cinema and the Brtish Armed Forces. He was awarded an OBE by the Queen in 1993. He passed away gently in his sleep in December 2009.

On his courage in getting on with life, Todd says 'it is rather like something that happens to men in war. You don't consciously set out to do something gallant. You just do it because that is what you are there for'.

Near the end of his life Richard was asked what it meant to be British he replied 'it means fairness, good sense, decency, kindness, politeness.'

Caught in the Act (1986)

Suggested films to see:
The Hasty Heart (1949)
The Dambusters(1954)
A Man called Peter (1955)
The Longest Day (1962)





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