Monday, September 28, 2015


One of those actors I am aware about but I have never seen much of his work is the actor Peter Finch. Since on this day he was born in 1918, I figured it would be a great opportunity to learn about the great actor, especially his early days.

Peter Lynch was born Frederick George Peter Ingle Finch in London. George gained custody of Peter and he was taken from his mother and brought up by his paternal "grandmother" Laura Finch (formerly Black) in Vaucresson, France.  In 1925 Laura took Peter with her to Adyar, a Theosophical community near Madras, India for a number of months, and the young boy lived for a time in a Buddhist monastery. Undoubtedly as a result of his childhood contact with Buddhism Finch always claimed to be a Buddhist. 

In 1926 he was sent to Australia to live with his great-uncle Edward Herbert Finch at Greenwich Point in Sydney. He attended the local public school until 1929, then North Sydney Intermediate High School for three years. At age 19 Finch toured Australia with George Sorlie's travelling troupe. This, along with continuous stage work, 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.

Finch's first screen performance was in a 1935 short film, The Magic Shoes, an adaptation of the fairy tale Cinderella. He made his feature film debut in 1938 with a supporting role in Dad and Dave Come to Town for director Ken G. Hall, who went on to cast Finch in a larger role supporting Cecil Kellaway in Mr. Chedworth Steps Out (1939).

After the war, Finch continued to work heavily in radio and established himself as Australia's leading actor in that medium, winning Macquarie Awards for best actor in 1946 and 1947. He also worked as a compere, producer and writer.

In 1946, Finch co-founded the Mercury Theatre Company, which put on a number of productions in Sydney over the next few years, as well as running a theatre school. A 1948 performance of The Imaginary Invalid on the factory floor of O'Brien's Glass Factory in Sydney brought him to the attention of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, then touring Australia with the Old Vic Company. Olivier encouraged Finch to move to London, and he left Australia in 1948.

He did not reach international stardom until the success of The Nun's Story (1959). Although he never worked in Hollywood for an extended period of time, preferring to base himself in London.

At the time of Finch's 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 nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for that role, posthumously 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...

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