Roddy McDowall

Roddy McDowall

A clerical error on the part of 20th Century-Fox cost McDowall a likely Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor for his role as Caesar Augustus Octavian in Cleopatra (1963). The studio erroneously listed him as a leading player rather than a supporting one. When Fox asked the Academy to correct the error, it refused, saying the ballots already were at the printer. Fox then published an open letter in the trade papers, apologizing to McDowall: "We feel that it is important that the industry realize that your electric performance as Octavian in 'Cleopatra,' which was unanimously singled out by the critics as one of the best supporting performances by an actor this year, is not eligible for an Academy Award nomination in that category . . . due to a regrettable error on the part of 20th Century-Fox.".

After his death in 1998 his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

Along with Woodrow Parfrey, Norman Burton and Eldon Burke, he is one of only four actors to appear in both Planet of the Apes (1968) and "Planet of the Apes" (1974).

An accomplished ballroom dancer, he won both the Charleston and Cha-Cha contests on the "The Arthur Murray Party" (1950).

Appeared on an episode of The Carol Burnett Show wearing his Planet of the Apes make-up. The look of fright on Carol Burnett's face was reputed to be genuine.

Became a close, lifelong friend of Peggy Ann Garner while filming The Pied Piper (1942) with her in 1941.

Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 396-398. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Both of the series in which he starred were short-lived science fiction series produced in the 1970s: "Planet of the Apes" (1974) and "The Fantastic Journey" (1977).

Explained in 1995 during an interview for American cable station USA Network the limitations of his make-up on Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). Overwhelmed by frustration over the inability to eat, touch his face and the constant itch brought on by the chimpanzee prosthetics, he admitted to crying.

Final stage appearance was as Ebenezer Scrooge in the New York City production of "A Christmas Carol" in 1997. He alternated performances with Hal Linden.

He appeared in four of the five "Planet of the Apes" films. Having originally played the chimpanzee archaeologist Cornelius in Planet of the Apes (1968), he was unable to reprise his role in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) as he was directing The Devil's Widow (1970) in Britain at the time. In that film, the role was played by David Watson. However, he later returned as Cornelius in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and as his son Caesar in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).

He appeared in three different "Batman" television series: he played the Bookworm in "Batman" (1966) and the Mad Hatter (Dr. Jervis Tetch) in "Batman" (1992) and its spin-off "The New Batman Adventures" (1997).

He has played the same character (The Mad Hatter) on three different series: "Batman" (1992), "Superman" (1996) and "The New Batman Adventures" (1997).

He played villains in both "Batman" (1966) and "Batman" (1992), the only actor to do so.

He was a close friend of Maureen O'Hara for 57 years, from the time that they made How Green Was My Valley (1941), their first and only film together, until his death in October 1998.

He was a rarity among movie stars in that he appears to have made no enemies at all during his lifetime. A man with numerous friends both in and out of show business, those who knew him continue to speak well of him to this day, and his funeral drew overflow crowds.

He was the younger brother of Virginia McDowall.

His father's name was Thomas McDowall. His mother's name was Winifred Corcoran.

Horse whisperer Monty Roberts was McDowall's stunt double for most of his childhood roles.

In 1974 the FBI raided his home and seized his collection of films and TV series during an investigation of copyright infringement and movie piracy. The collection consisted of 160 16mm prints and over 1,000 videocassettes. The value of the films was conservatively assessed at $5,005,426 by representatives of the movie industry. The actor was not charged and agreed to cooperate with the FBI. There was then no aftermarket for films, as the commercial video recorder had not been marketed, and studios routinely destroyed old negatives and prints of classic films they felt had no worth. Film buffs like McDowall had to purchase 16mm prints of films from the studios, or movie prints on the black market, or from other collectors. He claimed that he had once had as many as 337 movies in his collection, but at the time of the investigation he was not sure how many were still in his possession. He had bought Errol Flynn's movie collection, and had acquired other films through purchases or swaps. McDowall told the FBI that he had transferred many of his films to videotape in order to conserve space and because tape was longer-lasting than film, and subsequently had sold or traded the prints, plus other prints of movies he had lost interest in, to other collectors. He said that he collected the films due to his love of the cinema and to help protect t