Richard Todd, best known for his role in classic war film The Dam Busters, has died at the age of 90, after a battle with cancer.
Todd, a war hero in his own right, was also known for playing dashing heroes like Robin Hood and Rob Roy. Born in Dublin in 1919, Todd was one of the first British soldiers to parachute into France on D-Day.
A spokesman for his family said he died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday at his home near Grantham in Lincolnshire. Made in 1955, The Dam Busters told of the development of the bouncing bomb used during World War II to destroy the Ruhr dams in Germany.
Todd played Wing Commander Guy Gibson, leader of the 1943 mission codenamed Operation Chastise. The actor, who was made an OBE in 1993, was last seen on screen in a 2007 episode of ITV drama Heartbeat.
Todd’s other movies include the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Stage Fright and the 1962 war film The Longest Day. He also appeared in four episodes of Doctor Who in the 1980s, opposite Peter Davison’s Doctor.
In 1950, he was nominated for the best actor Oscar for his work opposite future US president Ronald Reagan in The Hasty Heart. It was around this time that he first worked for the Disney studio, an association that led him to be named a ‘Disney Legend’ in 2002. Todd would later make light of his roles in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, The Sword and the Rose and Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue – selected as the Royal Film in 1953.
“My image was all daring deeds, until my swash began to buckle a bit,” he remembered. The actor, whose full name was Richard Andrew Palethorpe-Todd, began acting on stage in 1937. With the outbreak of World War II, however, he volunteered for duty, serving with distinction in the Army, the Infantry and the Parachute Regiment.
Todd’s youngest son Seamus shot himself in 1997 at the age of 20. Eight years later, Todd’s eldest son Peter also took his own life after suffering depression.