Donald Pleasence Biography
Donald Pleasence was an English actor born on October 5, 1919, in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. After receiving his formal education, he worked as a clerk-in-charge at Swinton railway station. However, his passion for acting led him to take up a placement with the Jersey Repertory Company in 1939.
During World War II, Donald Pleasence initially registered as a conscientious objector but changed his stance and joined the Royal Air Force. He served as an aircraft wireless-operator and flew almost sixty raids against the Axis over occupied Europe. His Lancaster NE112 was shot down during an attack on Agenville, and he was captured and imprisoned in the German prisoner-of-war camp Stalag Luft I. Pleasence produced and acted in many plays for the entertainment of his fellow captives. After his release from the camp, he resumed his acting career.
Donald Pleasence’s early stage work included performing in various productions, such as Hobson’s Choice and The Lark. He gained excellent reviews for his portrayal of the tramp in Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker. He also performed in television shows such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Twilight Zone.
Donald Pleasence made his big-screen debut with The Beachcomber in 1954. He went on to appear in various films, including Circus of Horrors, The Night of the Generals, and The Great Escape. Pleasence was known for playing insane, fanatical, or evil characters such as Dr. Crippen and Heinrich Himmler in The Eagle Has Landed.
One of his most iconic roles, however, is when he portrayed the Bond arch-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice. Pleasence’s interpretation of the character has become predominant in popular culture, and he is considered the face of Bloefeld, even though he’s been played by several actors. Mike Meyers parodied Pleasence’s Blofeld as Dr. Evil in the successful Austin Powers film series.
Donald Pleasence’s most famous role was that of Dr. Sam Loomis in John Carpenter’s horror film Halloween. He played the character in several sequels, including Halloween II, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, which was relased just after his death and was dedicated to him. Archival footage of him was also used in the 2021 film Halloween Kills.
Donald Pleasence was also involved in spoken records and voice-overs. He recorded several children’s-story records and provided the voice-over for the British public information film, The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water.
Donald Pleasence married four times and had five daughters from his first three marriages. He passed away on February 2, 1995, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, from complications of heart failure following heart valve replacement surgery.