RODERICK ANDREW ANTHONY JUDE McDOWALL was born in London on September 17, 1928. At the age of six he won an acting prize in a school play, and the following year he made his film debut in Scruffy. During the next four years he had bit parts and supporting roles in more than a dozen British movies, including Murder in the Family (starring Jessica Tandy) and You Will Remember (with Robert Morley and Emlyn Williams).
When the German air force began bombing London in 1940, Roddy’s father, an officer in the British merchant marine, arranged for the family to come to America. In 1941 Roddy won a leading role in How Green Was My Valley and a contract with Twentieth Century Fox. It was the start of a highly successful Hollywood career as the child star of My Friend Flicka and its sequels, of Lassie Come Home and The White Cliffs of Dover (with Irene Dunne).
Until his mid-twenties McDowall’s youthful appearance kept him in unrewarding teenage roles, and he moved to New York to study acting and build a career in the theater. In 1955 he had a great success as Ariel in The Tempest, in the first season of the American Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Connecticut. He soon made several notable appearances on Broadway: in Compulsion (with Dean Stockwell), Jean Anouilh’s The Fighting Cock (for which he received a Tony Award as Best Supporting Actor), and Camelot. He also starred in many live television productions, including Heart of Darkness, Billy Budd, and Not Without Honor (for which he won an Emmy Award as Best Supporting Actor).
In the early ‘60s McDowall moved back to California and resumed his movie career, appearing in Cleopatra, The Loved One, Planet of the Apes and its sequels, The Poseidon Adventure, Dead of Winter, and many other films. In all, he has appeared in over a hundred movies and almost as many television roles. McDowall has also become a successful photographer, contributing to Vogue and Life and publishing his first collection of photographs, Double Exposure, in 1966. He has also acquired, as Ruth Gordon once said, "more friends than anyone I know." Most of them--including Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, Laurence Olivier, Fred Astaire, Christopher Isherwood, Mae West, George Cukor, Ethel Merman, and John Gielgud--he has photographed. Those who weren’t in his first collection can be seen in Double Exposure, Take Two, to be published in October by William Morrow.
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