Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Network" Actor Peter Finch 1977 Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Deathday: Peter Finch 1916-1977 RIP
Peter Finch (September 28, 1916 – January 14, 1977) was a British - born Australian actor. He is best remembered for his role as 'crazed' television anchorman Howard Beale in the film, Network, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor, his fifth Best Actor award from the BAFTA, and a Best Actor award from the Golden Globes. He is one of only two people to win a posthumous Academy Award in an acting category; the other was fellow Australian Heath Ledger.

Deathday: Peter Finch 1916-1977 RIP
Finch was born Frederick George Peter Ingle Finch in London to parents George Finch and Alicia Gladys Fisher, who divorced when he was two years old. George Finch was born in New South Wales, Australia, but was educated in Paris and Zurich. He was a research chemist when he moved to England in 1912 and later served during the first World War with the Royal Army Ordnance Depot and the Royal Field Artillery. In 1915 at Portsmouth in Hampshire George married Alicia Fisher, the daughter of a Kent barrister. However, George Finch was not Peter Finch's biological father. He learned only in his mid-40s that his biological father was Wentworth Edward Dallas "Jock" Campbell, an Indian Army officer, whose adultery with Finch's mother was the cause of his parents' divorce. George gained custody of Peter and he was taken from his mother and raised by his "grandmother" Laura Finch (formerly Black) in France and India, before being sent to Australia in 1926 where he lived with his great uncle Edward Herbert Finch at Greenwich Point in Sydney. Alicia Finch married Peter's father "Jock" Campbell in 1922.

After school, Finch took several badly paid jobs until he started acting in small parts for Doris Fitton in 1934. He worked as a sideshow spruiker at the Royal Easter Show, in vaudeville with Joe Cody and as a foil to American comedian Bert le Blanc. A recommendation led to work with George Sorlie's travelling troupe, which in turn led to the attention of Australian Broadcasting Commission radio drama producer Lawrence H Cecil, who was to act as his coach and mentor throughout 1939 and 1940. He was "Chris" in the Children's Session and the first Muddle-Headed Wombat. He later starred with Neva Carr Glyn in an enormously popular series by Max Afford as husband-and-wife detectives Jeffery and Elizabeth Blackburn as well as other ABC radio plays. He landed his first film in 1938, Dad and Dave Come to Town, a small part which failed to attract any notice.

Deathday: Peter Finch 1916-1977 RIP
Finch's forte, however, remained the stage. He was noticed by Laurence Olivier in the late 1940s. Olivier encouraged Finch to return to London for a role in Daphne Laureola at the Old Vic. During this time, his closeness to the Olivier family led to an affair with Olivier's beautiful but increasingly unstable wife, Vivien Leigh, which began in 1948, and continued on and off for several years, ultimately falling apart due to her deteriorating mental condition.

Deathday: Peter Finch 1916-1977 RIP
Despite his stage experience, Finch, like his mentor Olivier, suffered from stage fright. As a break from stage parts, in the late 1940s, he turned to performing in films. His first role in a British-made film was in Eureka Stockade (1949), set in Australia. In 1950, he made his Hollywood film debut in The Miniver Story, the sequel to the wartime morale boosting movie Mrs. Miniver; unlike its predecessor, it was poorly received critically. In 1955, he appeared with Diane Cilento in the film Passage Home. His first major role was in 1956's A Town Like Alice.

Deathday: Peter Finch 1916-1977 RIP
He was originally chosen to play Julius Caesar in Cleopatra (1963), but prior commitments forced him to withdraw; the role instead went to Rex Harrison.

Deathday: Peter Finch 1916-1977 RIP
In 1972, Finch played the homosexual Jewish doctor in Sunday Bloody Sunday, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

At the time of his death, he was doing a promotional tour for the 1976 film Network in which he played the television anchorman Howard Beale who develops messianic pretensions. He was posthumously nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for that role, winning the award, which was accepted by his widow, Eletha Finch. Although James Dean, Spencer Tracy, and Massimo Troisi were also posthumously nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, Peter Finch was the first actor to have won the award posthumously, as well as the first Australian actor to win a Best Actor award. He was the only posthumous winner of an Oscar in an acting category until Heath Ledger won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2009 (there were many earlier posthumous Oscar winners in non-acting categories; Ledger was also an Australian). Finch also won five Best Actor awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), including one for Network.

Deathday: Peter Finch 1916-1977 RIP
Finch married three times, first to Russian ballerina Tamara Rechemcinc (who performed under her mother's family name of Tchinarova), secondly to South African actress Yolande Eileen Turnbull ("Turner"), who was known as Yolande Finch during their marriage; both marriages ended in divorce. After his divorce from Yolande Finch, he married Mavis "Eletha" Barrett, who was known as Eletha Finch. He also had relationships with actresses Kay Kendall, Vivien Leigh and Mai Zetterling.

He had four children from his three marriages: Samantha, Charles and Diana with Yolande Turner, and Anita with Tamara Tchinarova.

Deathday: Peter Finch 1916-1977 RIP
After suffering a heart attack, Finch died on January 14, 1977, at the age of 60; he is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.

Deathday: Peter Finch 1916-1977 RIP
In 1980, American author Elaine Dundy published a biography of Finch titled Finch, Bloody Finch: A Biography of Peter Finch. That year, his second wife, Yolande Finch, also published a posthumous account of their life together, Finchy: My Life with Peter Finch. Another biography had previously been published by his friend and colleague Trader Faulkner, in 1979. According to Brian McFarlane, in the The Encyclopedia of British Film, hosted by British Film Institute's Screenonline, Finch "did not emerge unscathed from a life of well-publicised hell-raising, and several biographies chronicle the affairs and the booze, but a serious appraisal of a great actor remains to be written."

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