Charles Gray Biography
Charles Gray, born on 28 August 1928 in Bournemouth, Hampshire, was an English actor best known for his roles in The Rocky Horror Show and as Bond villain Ernst Stavros Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Originally called Donald Marshall Gray, he attended Bournemouth School along with the famous comedian Benny Hill. After starting his career as a clerk for an estate agent, Gray discovered his passion for acting after being called up as a last minute replacement for a part in The Beaux’ Stratagem at the Palace Court Theatre in Bournemouth.
His performance inspired him to discover a career in acting and he soon moved to London in 1951. After moving to London, Donald changed his name to Charles Gray and theatrical debut came in 1952 when he played Charles the Wrestler in As You Like It.
Charles Gray quickly became a distinguished theatre actor, appearing in several productions in top West End theatres in London and at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where he received vocal training.
He went on to make his mark in various productions, using his imposing presence and refined vocal skills to create memorable performances. Among his many theatre productions, he toured the UK starring in Macbeth (1952), and a starring role in Antony and Cleopatra in another UK tour 1954. In North America, he portrayed Henry Bolingbroke in Richard II, as Escalus in Romeo and Juliet, on a tour of the U.S. and Canada in 1957.
Gray eventually made the transition to film, with his first movie appearance in the 1958 film I Accuse! as Capt. Brossard. In 1960 Charles Gray appeared opposite Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer, a film produced by Bond producer Harry Saltzman.
A few other low budget films followed through the 1960s until his big break came when he was cast as Dikko Henderson in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. He was back with the Bond production team in 1971 in his biggest role to date, playing Bond villain Blofeld opposite Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever.
Gray is one of the few actors who played both an antagonist and a Bond ally in different Bond films, alongside Richard Kiel, Walter Gotell and Joe Don Baker.
Work picked up now and in 1975, Gray was cast to play the Criminologist in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its sequel Shock Treatment. He also made a name for himself with recurring roles, including Lord Seacroft in The Upper Crusts and Mycroft Holmes in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. He also temporarily replaced Edward Hardwicke and Jeremy Brett in several instalments of the Sherlock Holmes saga.
Sadly, Charles Gray passed away in March 2000 at the age of 71 due to cancer.