Actor. Born Roderick Andrew Anthony Jude McDowall at Herne Hall, London, the son of a merchant marine and an amateur actress. His mother enrolled him in elocution lessons at five and by age ten he had made his uncredited film debut in 1938's ‘Scruffy,' then appeared in six more films that same year including ‘Murder in the Family.' He and his family evacuated to the United States during the Battle of Britain and he appeared in another dozen movies before landing a breakout role in 1941's ‘How Green Was My Valley." He became the quintessential child star, appearing in fourteen more films before his twentieth birthday including such classics as ‘My Friend Flicka,' ‘Lassie Come Home,' ‘Thunderhead, Son of Flicka,' and ‘Kidnapped.' McDowall left Hollywood for most of the 1950s, taking instead roles in television and on stage. He appeared on Broadway in ten separate productions including ‘No Time for Sergeants,' ‘The Fighting Cock' for which he won a Tony Award for his performance, and ‘Camelot' in which he originated the role of Mordred. He played the critically lauded role of Octavius opposite his friend, Elizabeth Taylor in 1963's film juggernaught ‘Cleopatra.' One of the relatively few child actors to have a successful adult career, he seemed to find a niche in interesting character roles; perhaps most notably in the ‘Planet of the Apes' series of films from 1968-1973 in which he played the chimpanzee, Cornelius. He remained in heavy makeup through 1974 when the ‘Planet of the Apes' became a short lived television series. His later career was largely in television or as a voice artist. He appeared or was heard in numerous series such as ‘Wonder Woman,' ‘Hart to Hart,' ‘Faerie Tale Theatre,' ‘Fantasy Island,' and ‘Batman,' and in animated features such as ‘The Return of the King' in which he played Samwise Gamgee, ‘The Wind in the Willows,' ‘Jungle Book 2: Mowgli and Baloo,' and ‘A Bug's Life.' Although he still accepted guest roles on film and stage into the 1990s, he became far more involved with a behind the scenes role, serving on the executive boards of the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He also worked with the National Film Preservation Board. In 1998, he was elected president of the Academy Foundation. An avid photographer, McDowall also published five books of photography including ‘Double Exposure,' which featured portraits of his friends of which he had many. McDowall was a Hollywood rarity in that he appears to have made no enemies during his lifetime. He was famed for his kindness, generosity, and loyalty. His announcement that he had terminal cancer stunned the film community, and many paid final visits to his Studio City home. A few days prior his death, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named its photo archive after him. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6632 Hollywood Blvd.
Bio by: Iola