Birthday: September 17, 1928 Birth
Place: Herne Hill, London, England, UK Height: 5' 1"
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Roderick McDowall was born in London, the son of a Merchant Mariner father and a mother who had always wanted to be in movies. He was enrolled in elocution courses at age five and by ten had appeared in his first film, Murder in the Family (1938), playing Peter Osborne, the younger brother of sisters played by Jessica Tandy and Glynis Johns. His mother brought Roddy and his sister to the US at the beginning of World War II, and he soon got the part of Huw, youngest child in a family of Welsh coal miners, in John Ford's How Green Was My Valley (1941), acting alongside Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara and Donald Crisp in the film that won that year's best film Oscar. He went on to many other child roles, in films like My Friend Flicka (1943) and Lassie Come Home (1943) until, at age 18, he moved to New York, where he played a long series of successful stage roles, both on Broadway and in such venues as Connecticut's Stratford Festival, where he did Shakespeare. In addition to making many more movies (over 150), McDowell acted in television, developed an extensive collection of movies and Hollywood memorabilia, and published five acclaimed books of his own photography. He died at his Los Angeles home, aged 70, of cancer.
Performed custom voice-over work for the Training Level of the PlayStation game, "A Bug's Life" (1998). [source: game credits]
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) honor Roddy McDowall for his acting career and critically acclaimed photography by naming its photo archive after him. The collection, which includes several millions of negatives and stills, will be known as the Roddy McDowall Photograph Archive at the Margaret Herrick Library. [December 1998]
Ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean. 
Roddy has appeared in two separate television series of Batman. The original 1960s series (as Bookworm), and 'Batman: The Animated Series' (as the Mad Hatter).
In addition to appearing on both the original and animated "Batman" TV series, he also the reader for the book-on-tape version of the novelization of the first "Batman" film (1989).
Roddy McDowall 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.
Brother of Virginia McDowall.
An accomplished ballroom dancer, he won both the Charleston and Cha-Cha contests on the "Arthur Murray Party" TV show in the 1950s.
Introduced Carol Lawrence to Robert Goulet. In fact, she jokingly said that McDowell was responsible for her's and Goulet's first child.
Became a close, life-long friend with Peggy Ann Garner while filming "The Pied Piper" with her in 1941.
Won Broadway's 1960 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic) for "The Fighting Cock."
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 McDowall as a leading player rather than a supporting one. When Fox asked the Academy to correct their 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."
In 1974, the FBI raided the home of Roddy McDowall and seized the actor's collection of films and TV series during an investigation of copyright infringement and movie piracy. McDowall's collection consisted of 160 16mm prints and over 1,000 videocassettes. The value of the films was conservatively assessed at ,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 the movies' heritage. McDowall also said that being in possession of prints of his own films allowed him to study his acting and improve his craft. One of the films he had purchased, from American-International Pictures, was Tam-Lin, a movie he himself had directed. He explained that he believed that he was not in violation of copyright, as he was not showing the films for profit, nor trying to make a profit when selling his prints as he charged only what he remembered as the price he himself paid. He believed he had purchased some of the films outright from 20th Century Fox, but learned subsequently from his lawyer that his agreement with Fox meant the studio retained ownership of the prints, and that he was forbidden to sell, trade or lend them out. McDowall was forthcoming about the individuals he dealt with on the black market, and also named Rock Hudson, Dick Martin and Mel Torme as other celebrities with film collections.
Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 396-398. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Became a close, life-long friend with Peggy Ann Garner while filming The Pied Piper (1942) with her in 1941.
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.
On March 10, 1965, he attended the Los Angeles premiere of The Sound of Music (1965) as the date of the movie's star, Julie Andrews.
Life-long friend of Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor has since referred to him as the one friend she had to whom she confided everything, and who was always understanding.
An accomplished ballroom dancer, he won both the Charleston and Cha-Cha contests on the "The Arthur Murray Party" (1950).
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