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Sunday, October 4, 1998 Published at 00:41 GMT 01:41 UK


Actor McDowall dies aged 70

Roddy McDowall (left) poses with other Planets of the Apes stars

Roddy McDowall, the child actor who left Britain and found fame in Hollywood, has died from cancer at the age of 70.

McDowall died at his home in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles, said Dennis Osborne, a friend who said he had cared for the actor in his final months.

"It was very peaceful," Osborne said. "It was just as he wanted it. It was exactly the way he planned."

Innocent face

After appearing in several British films, McDowall at 11 was among the children evacuated to the United States during the German bombardment.

Hollywood producers were impressed with his innocent face and precise diction, and he was first cast in Fritz Lang's Man Hunt.

The boy emerged as a star in John Ford's saga of Welsh coal miners, How Green Was My Valley.

"The youngster may prove this studio's boy counterpart to Shirley Temple," Variety magazine said in a 1941 review.

[ image: His boyish looks attracted Hollywood's attention]
His boyish looks attracted Hollywood's attention
"I can't say I was unhappy as a child actor in films, because I wasn't," he said in a 1963 interview. "I had a particularly wonderful time.

"The only trouble was that by the time I got to be 17 or 18, Hollywood was still thinking of me in terms of what I had delivered at the age of 11.

"They said I couldn't play anything but an English boy. I knew I could. So I went to New York and started to study, because I knew I had to learn a lot about myself as an actor; you can't act the same as you did as a child.

That ability to move into almost any role led him to be cast as a Roman emperor in Cleopatra, a Bible figure in The Greatest Story Ever Told and as Cornelius in The Planet of the Apes and sequels.

Evacuated from Blitz

He was born Roderick Andrew Anthony Jude McDowall on 17 Septmber 17, 1928, in London. His father was Scottish, his mother Irish.

Educated at St. Joseph's school, he made his film debut at eight in Murder in the Family before going to the United States after the German bombardment of London began in 1940.

He was placed under contract with Twentieth Century Fox and later moved to MGM. The young actor proved popular in films with animals, notably My Friend Flicka and Lassie Come Home.

[ image: Planet of the Apes has a cult following]
Planet of the Apes has a cult following
His most successful film was the 1968 Planet of the Apes and he appeared in the ape make-up in three sequels.

Among his other films: Inside Daisy Clover, Midas Run, Five Card Stud, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, The Poseidon Adventure, Funny Lady, Only the Lonely.

In the 1980s and 90s, he worked mostly in television dramas.

McDowall, who never married, was an accomplished photographer who produced five coffee-table books, starting with Double Exposure in 1966.

He photographed his lifelong friend and co-star of Lassie Come Home, Elizabeth Taylor, in a nude layout for Playboy magazine in 1963.

A longtime student of film, he gathered one of the largest private collections of old movies.

He is survived by his sister, Virginia McDowall of Los Angeles.

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