Friday, March 18, 2011

The Late Great Michael Gough

Actor Michael Gough, who played Arthur in the classic Hammer version of Dracula and made a memorable appearance on The Avengers as Dr. Clement Armstrong (inventor of the dreaded Cybernauts), passed yesterday at the age of 94.

Michael Gough was born in what is now Kuala Lumpur, Mayalasia on 23 November 1917 to English parents. He attended Rose Hill School, Tunbridge Wells, and Durham College. For a brief time he attended Wye Agricultural College before dropping out to join the Old Vic Theatre School. He played small roles as part of the Old Vic Company and first appeared on the West End in Dorothy Sayers' The Zeal of Thy House. During World War II he was a conscientious objector, serving in the Non-Combatant Corps. Following the war he rejoined the Old Vic. He made his debut on television in an adaptation of Androcles and the Lion in 1946. He made his film debut in Anna Karenina in 1948.

In the late Forties in to the Fifties Mr. Gough appeared several times on stage in the West End. He also appeared in such films as Saraband (1948), The Sword and the Rose (1953), Rob Roy the Highland Rogue (1953), Richard III (1955), Reach for the Sky (1956), and Horrors of the Black Museum (1959). It was in 1958 that he appeared in one of his most notable roles, as Arthur in the Hammer adaptation of Dracula. He also appeared on television on Rheingold Theatre, Sherlock Holmes, BBC Sunday Night Theatre, and The Adventures of Robin Hood. He appeared as Squire Mercer in the mini-series Dancers in Mourning. He appeared on Broadway in Compulsion (1959).

In the Sixties Michael Gough appeared in such films as Mr. Topaze (1961), Konga (1961), the Hammer version of Phantom of the Opera (1962), Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), They Came From Beyond Space (1967), Berserk (1967), Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968), Women in Love (1969), Julius Caesar (1970), and Trog (1970). He appeared on such shows as ITV Play of the Week, The Man in Room 17, The Saint, Orlando, Dr. Who (as the Celestial Toymaker),  The Avengers, and  The Champions. He played Mr. Bennett television mini-series adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. In the Seventies Mr. Gough appeared in such films as The Corpse (1971), Henry VIII and His Seven Wives (1972), Horror Hospital (1973), The Legend of Hell House (1973), The Boys from Brazil (1978), and Question of Love (1978). He appeared in such shows as Colditz, The Protectors, Moonbase 3, QBVII, Sutherland's Law, and Blake's 7. In 1979 he appeared on Broadway in Bedroom Farce.

In the Eighties Michael Gough appeared in such films as Venom (1981), The Dresser (1983), Top Secret (1984), Oxford Blues (1984), Out of Africa (1985), The Fourth Protocol (1987), and The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988).  In 1989 Mr. Gough first played Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's butler, in Batman. He would reprise the role in three sequels. He appeared on such shows as Brideshead Revisited, Smiley's People, Dr. Who, Crown Court, Inspector Morse, and Hallmark Hall of Fame. He was a regular on the series Blackeyes.

From the Nineties into the Naughts, Michael Gough appeared in such films as The Wanderer (1991), Let Him Have It (1991), The Age of Innocence (1993), The Advocate (1993), and Sleepy Hollow (1999). He did voice work for both The Corpse Bride (2005) and Alice in Wonderland (2010). He was a regular on the TV series The Diamond Brothers and Sleepers. He also appeared on such shows as Children of the North, and The Good Guys.

While the average person most likely remembers Michael Gough best as Alfred in the Nineties Batman movies, he had a long career and play many different roles. Indeed, when I think of Mr. Gough, it is not Bruce Wayne's long suffering and extremely loyal butler who comes to mind, but the crazed Dr. Armstrong in The Avengers episode "The Cybernauts." He was every bit as convincing as a mad genius in that episode as he was the Dark Knight's butler. Of course, this points to why Mr. Gough had such a long career. He was extremely versatile. Michael Gough played everything from an evil thriller writer who compels his assistant to commit crimes about which he can write (Horrors of the Black Museum) to Leo Tolstoy (in an episode of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones). He played all of these roles very convincingly. Most character actors become known for a particular type of character. Michael Gough played nearly every type of character there was.

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