Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Film actor Donald Houston's Rhondda blue plaque honour

Councillor Craig Middle, Houston's granddaughterMikayla, Margaret Smith, RCT Mayor Robert Smith, Jean Rees and Sian Houston outside 10, Thomas Street
Family, friends and local dignitaries were at the blue plaque unveiling

Film star Donald Houston has been honoured by the town where he was born, nearly 20 years after his death.

Family and friends of the star of films like 633 Squadron and The Longest Day were at the unveiling of a blue plaque on the house in Tonypandy, Rhondda.

A message was also sent by younger brother and fellow actor Glyn Houston, 83, who was absent due to ill health.

The unveiling came a few days after the death of Jean Simmons, Houston's co-star in "The Blue Lagoon".

Houston's daughter Sian and granddaughter Michala joined his sister Jean Rees at the plaque unveiling.

They heard Swansea historian Professor Peter Stead speak about the star's contribution to the British film industry from the 1940s onwards.

Donald Houston
Donald Houston had a forty year career in the film industry

During his 40-year career, Houston worked alongside acting greats including Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Dirk Bogarde and Clint Eastwood.

Professor Stead also spoke about Houston's close friendships with fellow Welsh actors Richard Burton and Sir Stanley Baker, his love of the Rhondda and how his classic good looks, warm spirit and openness endeared him to cinema goers of all ages.

Houston was born the eldest of three at 10 Thomas Street, Tonypandy in November 1923, the son of Alex, a professional football player from Scotland and Elsie, whose own mother ran a local milk round.

After school, he worked at the Glamorganshire colliery before attending an audition at Llwynypia Boys Club and being taken on by a travelling theatre company at the start of his 40 year career.

He died in 1991, at the age of 67.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor Robert Smith said "Wales is a remarkable country when you consider the phenomenal amount of talent it has produced and Rhondda Cynon Taf certainly punches above its weight in this regard.

Blue plaque honouring the late Donald Houston
The blue plaque is one of a series being erected in Rhondda Cynon Taf

"The county borough has been the starting point of a whole array of not just national, but world-famous individuals and organizations ranging from Stanley Baker and Tommy Farr to the Treorchy Male Choir and Cory Band."

The blue plaque is one in a series of 30 historically important sites identified by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council working alongside voluntary organisations and the public.

£49,000 of Heritage Lottery funding has been put aside for the project.

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