BORN: October 5, 1919
DIED: February 2, 1995
AGED: 75 years
DIED FROM: complications from heart valve surgery
MARRIED: 4 times
CHILDREN: 5 daughters with 4 going into show business
KNOWN FOR: his soft and mellifluous voice that could be used in such a sinister manner which he attributed to his elocution lessons he had when he was young.
This man is a great character actor who could steal a picture away from the stars, like Steve McQueen and James Garner and Bond, James Bond, Sean Connery. He was known to play evil characters but also heroic ones like Dr. Loomis in several Halloween movies. He has always been one of my favourite actors even in the many schlock flicks he made. He was known not to turn down roles which is why he is credited with over 200 film roles never mind TV roles and the theatre where he was nominated for 3 Tony Awards.
He always wanted to be an actor and strived for this so, when Britain entered WW2, he labeled himself a conscientious objector because of his pacifist belief until London got repeatedly bombed. Seeing first hand, the Blitz of London, he entered the war and became an aircraft wireless operator. He flew over 60 missions in a Lancaster bomber until they were shot down in early 1944. Donald parachuted out but when he landed, he was surrounded by Germans and when they started to act all “Heil Hitler” he started to giggle not thinking they actually acted like he saw in parodies. They did not take kindly to this and he was sent to a POW camp where he was beaten and tortured. He finally was free once the war ended and started right back up in acting. By the time he played the gentle forger in “The Great Escape”, he had quite a few roles under him including a heralded TV performance in a Twilight Zone Episode. His role in The Great Escape wasn’t that far off and, initially rebuffed by the director when Pleasance wanted to give some ideas about the POW camp, the director changed his tune when he was told that Pleasance was a real survivor of these camps.
Along the way, he had 4 marriages and had 5 daughters but often said he had 6 but that, I believe, was because one of his wives had a daughter from a previous relationship. 3 of his daughters became actresses, Angela, Miranda, Polly Jo and Lucy..oh, that’s 4:). The one daughter did say he had trouble with alcohol but quit cold Turkey around 1980.
We know him mostly from the Halloween films playing the psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis who keeps trying to get nasty Michael from killing…and killing…and killing. His other famous role was as Ernst Blofeld, the very first time we actually see this evil SOB in the Bond films. He played him so well that Mike Myers used Pleasance’s version for his Dr. Evil character in the Austin Powers movies. I’m pretty certain he would have loved to be in these movies. Did you know he was on Saturday Night Live?
Even in bad movies, he gave his best.
1. Look Back in Anger-1959
2. The Flesh and the Fiends-1960
3. The Great Escape-1963
5. Fantastic Voyage-1966
6. You Only Leave Twice-1967
7. Will Penny- 1968
8. The Eagle Has Landed-1976
10. Escape From New York-1981
Ok 3 more…
1. The Caretaker-1963
2. THX 1138-1971
3. Shadows and Fog-1991