Somehow this one zipped by me . . . S.L.
"Bullets zipped by as I jumped. I hit the ground 6 seconds later and came under intense fire . . ."
Sir Richard Todd (11 June 1919, Dublin, Ireland - 3 December 2009, Little Humby, Lincolnshire, England, UK)
Actor, World War II Veteran; officer, 7th Battalion (LI) The Parachute Regiment. On D-Day this Battalion made contact with Major Howard at the Orne Bridge now called Pegasus Bridge.
Sir Richard Todd's acting career spanned his World War II exploits. He played out his wartime heroic exploit at Pegasus Bridge twice in films; in the The Longest Day (1962) he played Major Howard meeting with Todd (himself), and in D-Day the Sixth of June (1956) he played the commander of his Battalion in the filming of the same scene.
He was a hell of a great actor, apparently - a little before my time; His performance as Lachie in The Hasty Heart (1949 - also starring Ronald Reagan, with whom he became lifelong friends) earned him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor.
He did some great roles in the film noir niche:
He played opposite Marlene Dietrich in Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright (1950)
Sir Richard's most memorable role was that of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, in The Dam Busters (1955):
Todd was Ian Fleming's first choice to play James Bond in Dr No (1962), but a scheduling clash gave the role to Sean Connery. He would have made a terrific Bond - S.L. Instead he played Inspector Harry Sanders in Lawrence Huntington's Death Drums Along The River (1963), a role he reprised in Coast of Skeletons the following year. In a rather more unlikely casting, he played a counter-culture hippie guru professor in The Love-Ins (1967).
By the late 1960s Todd's star had waned, and his later film parts were mostly forgettable, with the possible exception of Michael Winner's remake of The Big Sleep (1978), in which he played the police commissioner opposite Robert Mitchum's Philip Marlowe.
"I let myself become a willing workhorse. The roles were good, bad and indifferent, but I always gave a part my best shot and tried to enjoy it."
"I have no idea why but acting was in my blood. God knows how I managed it, but none of it was spilled in the war."
"I wish I had half the courage of some of those chaps I've played on the screen."
"I am not going around saying, 'Why me? Why me?' What helps me is accepting it, getting on with things. You can't let yourself go on wallowing."
- in a 2006 interview regarding the suicide deaths of two of his sons.
"You don't consciously set out to do something gallant. You just do it because that is what you are there for."
- referring to his heroism during WWII
In May of 2008 he laid poppies on the water of Derwent Reservoir, Derbyshire, UK, in honor of the 65th anniversary of the "Dambusters" mission in WWII.
Pegasus Bridge, June 1944
He was a Hero of the British Empire . . . he was Class Personified - "All The Way" (as we say in the Airborne) - AND he was IRISH ! ! ! If I had a choice of any life to lead, he'd be right up there at the top of my list. - Sean Linnane