On May 26th…

eter Cushing as Holmes and Nigel Stock as Watson (1964)

“Chips” writes that today marks the birth of his favorite actor to play Sherlock Holmes: he put an emotion into Holmes as one who could be aloof, standoffish because of his knowledge but underneath a warm caring human who loved Watson as a brother and cared for his clients.

Peter Wilton Cushing was born on May 26, 1913, in Kenley, Surrey, England. He played Sherlock Holmes many times, beginning with Hammer Films’ The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1959, which was the first Holmes adaptation filmed in color. He went on to play Holmes in 16 episodes of the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes series, though only six episodes have survived. Twenty years later, he portrayed an older Holmes in the television movie, Sherlock Holmes and the Masks of Death.

Cushing was a Sherlockian, and as such insisted on including lines from the stories into the TV episodes. He also included actions such as writing on his sleeve cuff in Study in Scarlet. Unfortunately, the series was underfunded and given no time to film quality episodes, so Cushing and the BBC parted company.

In Starring Sherlock Holmes: A Century of the Master Detective on Screen, film historian David Stuart Davies notes:

Cushing requested that the costumes for the series replicated those shown in the Paget illustrations. The BBC agreed, and in doing so exploded the myth of Holmes’s Inverness cape…


Sources:  A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”), IMDB.com, and the Peter Cushing Appreciation Society UK.