Associated with gritty, flashy film villainy, veteran character actor Torin Thatcher was born in Bombay, India to British parents on January 15, 1905, and was educated in England at the Bedford School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. A former schoolteacher, he appeared on the London stage in 1927 before entering British films in 1934. During World War II he served with the Royal Artillery and achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was an extremely imposing, powerfully built specimen and it offered him a number of tough, commanding, often sinister roles over the years primarily in larger-than-life action sequences. He made a number of classic British films in the late 1930s and 1940s including Sabotage (1936), Major Barbara (1941), The Captive Heart (1946), Great Expectations (1946), in which he played Bentley (“The Spider”) Drummle, and The Fallen Idol (1948). In Hollywood from the 1950s on, his looming figure and baleful countenance were constantly in demand, gnashing his teeth in a slew of popular costumers such as The Crimson Pirate (1952), Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952) as reformed pirate Sir Henry Morgan, The Robe (1953), Helen of Troy (1956) as Ulysses, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) as the evil, shaven-domed magician Sokurah who shrinks the princess to miniature size, Witness for the Prosecution (1957) as the prosecuting attorney, The Miracle (1959) as the Duke of Wellington, the Marlon Brando/’Trevor Howard’ remake of Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), and Hawaii (1966). Thatcher returned to the stage quite frequently, notably on Broadway, in such esteemed productions as “Edward, My Son” (1948), “That Lady” (1949) and “Billy Budd” (1951). In 1959 he portrayed Captain Keller in the award-winning play “The Miracle Worker” with Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke. Also a steady fixture on TV, he appeared in such made-for-TV films as the Jack Palance version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Brenda Starr.” Thatcher died of cancer on March 4, 1981, in the near-by Los Angeles area.
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