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Tim Curry

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Tim Curry

Tim Curry
Curry in New York City, 2005.
Born Timothy James Curry
(1946-04-19) 19 April 1946
Grappenhall, Warrington, England
Alma mater University of Birmingham
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1968–present

Timothy James "Tim" Curry (born 19 April 1946) is an English actor, singer, and composer, known for his work in a diverse range of theatre, film, and television productions, often portraying villainous roles or character parts.

Curry first rose to prominence with his portrayal of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the 1975 cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, reprising the role he had originated in the 1973 London and 1974 Los Angeles stage productions of The Rocky Horror Show. Curry garnered further acclaim for his film and television roles; as Rooster in the 1982 film adaptation of Annie, as Darkness in the film Legend and Wadsworth in the film Clue (both 1985), and as Pennywise in the 1990 horror miniseries It. Some more comedic roles include playing Mr. Hector in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island. Other notable stage roles include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the 1980 Broadway production of Amadeus and as King Arthur in Spamalot in 2005.

Early life

Curry was born in Grappenhall, Warrington. Curry's father, James, was a chaplain in the Royal Navy, and his mother, Patricia, was a school secretary.[1] His older sister, Judy, was a concert pianist. Curry spent the majority of his childhood in Plymouth and following his father's death in 1958 his family moved to South London, but Curry himself went to boarding school and attended Kingswood School in Bath, Somerset. As a child, he developed into a talented boy soprano (treble).[2] Deciding to concentrate on acting, Curry graduated from the University of Birmingham with a combined degree in English and drama (BA Drama & Theatre Studies, 1968).[3]

Acting career

Rocky Horror

Curry's first full-time role was as part of the original London cast of the musical Hair in 1968, where he first met Richard O'Brien[4] who went on to write Curry's next full-time role, that of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show.[5] Curry recalled his first encounter with the project:

I'd heard about the play because I lived on Paddington Street, off Baker Street, and there was an old gym a few doors away. I saw Richard O'Brien in the street, and he said he'd just been to the gym to see if he could find a muscleman who could sing. I said, "Why do you need him to sing?" [laughs] And he told me that his musical was going to be done, and I should talk to Jim Sharman. He gave me the script, and I thought, "Boy, if this works, it's going to be a smash."[6]

Originally, Curry rehearsed the character with a German accent and peroxide blond hair, and later, with an American accent. In a 2005 interview with Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air, he explains that he decided to play Dr. Frank N. Furter with an English accent after listening to an English woman say, "Do you have a house in town or a house in the country," and decided, "Yes, (Dr. Frank N. Furter) should sound like the Queen."[7] Curry originally thought the character was merely a laboratory doctor dressed in a white lab coat. However, at the suggestion of director Sharman, the character evolved into the diabolical mad scientist and transvestite with an upper-class Belgravia accent that carried over to the film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show[8] and made Curry both a star and a cult figure. He continued to play the character in London, Los Angeles and New York City until 1975.

In an interview with NPR, Curry called Rocky Horror a "rite of passage," and added that the film is "a guaranteed weekend party to which you can go with or without a date and probably find one if you don't have one and it's also a chance for people to try on a few roles for size, you know? Figure out, help them maybe figure out their own sexuality."[7]


Shortly after the end of Rocky Horror '​s run on Broadway, Curry returned to the stage with Tom Stoppard's Travesties, which ran in London and New York from 1975 to 1976. Travesties was a Broadway hit which won two Tony Awards (Best Performance by an Actor for John Wood and Best Comedy), as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award (Best Play), and Curry's performance as the famous dadaist Tristan Tzara received good reviews.

In 1981, Curry formed part of the original cast in the Broadway show George Cole, earning enthusiastic reviews.

In the mid-1980s, Curry performed in The Rivals (Bob Acres 1983) and in several plays with the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, including The Threepenny Opera (MacHeath 1986), Dalliance (Theodore 1986), and Love For Love (Tattle 1985). In 1987-88, Curry did the national tour of Me and My Girl as the lead role of 'Bill Snibson', a role originated on Broadway by Robert Lindsay and followed by Jim Dale. In 1989-90, Tim Curry returned once again to the New York stage in The Art of Success. In 1993, Curry played Alan Swann in the Broadway musical version of My Favourite Year, earning him his second Tony Award nomination, this time for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.

In 2001, Curry starred as Scrooge in the musical version of A Christmas Carol that played at Madison Square Garden. In 2004, Curry began his role of King Arthur in Spamalot in Chicago. The show successfully moved to Broadway in February 2005. The show sold more than $1 million worth of tickets in its first 24 hours.[9] It brought him a third Tony nomination, again for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. Curry reprised this role in London's West End at the Palace Theatre, where Spamalot opened on 16 October 2006. His final performance came on 6 January 2007. He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award as the Best Actor in a Musical for the role and also won the Theatregoers' Choice Award (getting 39% of the votes cast by over 12,000 theatregoers) as Best Actor in a Musical.

From May to August 2011, Curry was scheduled to portray the Player in a Trevor Nunn stage production of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Chichester Festival Theatre and then in London. He withdrew from the production on 27 May, citing ill health.[10] From 26–29 April 2012, Tim Curry appeared in Eric Idle's play What About Dick? at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.[11] He had originally starred in the play back in 2007, when it was still work in progress.[12]


After The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Curry began to star in many films, acting in supporting roles, such as Robert Graves in the British horror film The Shout, as Johnny LaGuardia in the cult classic, Times Square, as Daniel "Rooster" Hannigan in Annie, a film based on the broadway musical of the same name and as Jeremy Hancock in the political film The Ploughman's Lunch.

In 1985, Curry starred in the fantasy film, Legend as the Lord of Darkness, which became one of his best-known roles. Director Ridley Scott cast Curry in the film after watching him in Rocky Horror, thinking he was ideal to play the role of Darkness. It took five and a half hours to apply the makeup needed for Darkness onto Curry and at the end of the day he would spend an hour in a bath in order to liquefy the soluble spirit gum.[13] At one point, Curry got too impatient and claustrophobic and pulled the makeup off too quickly, tearing off his own skin in the process. Scott had to shoot around the actor for a week as a result.[13]

The same year, he starred in the comedy mystery film Clue as Wadsworth the butler. After this, Curry began to star in more comedic roles throughout the late 1980s and '90s such as Rev. Ray Porter in Pass the Ammo, Dr. Thorton Poole in Oscar, Mr. Hector in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Jigsaw in Loaded Weapon 1 and as Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island. Although he began to star in mostly comedies throughout the '90s, he did star in some action films, such as the thriller The Hunt for Red October as Dr. Yeveniy Petrov, the 1993 reboot of The Three Musketeers as Cardinal Richelieu, in the superhero film The Shadow as Farley Claymore, and as Herkermer Homolka in the 1995 action adventure Congo.

In the early 2000s, Curry starred in two box office hits, the first being the film adaptation of Charlie's Angels as the role of Roger Corwin and the second being the parody film Scary Movie 2 playing Professor Oldman. Curry then went on to play Thurman Rice, a supporting role in the critically acclaimed biographical film Kinsey.

In recent years, Curry has mostly only starred in animated films, his most recent live action role has been in the British black comedy Burke & Hare as Prof. Alexander Monro.


Curry at the 47th Emmy Awards Governor's Ball in 1994

Curry started off his career with small roles in television series, such as Eugene in Napoleon and Love, and guest roles in Armchair Theatre and Play for Today.

Curry also starred in the "Dead Dog Records" storyline of the television series crime drama Wiseguy, as Winston Newquay. He also had recurring roles on the short lived science fiction television series Earth 2 and the sitcom Rude Awakening

He has also guest starred on other series such as Roseanne, Tales from the Crypt (which earned him an Emmy award nomination), Lexx, The Naked Truth, Monk, Will & Grace, Psych, Agatha Christie's Poirot, and Criminal Minds.

Curry also starred in a large number of television films and miniseries, such as Three Men in a Boat, the titular role in Will Shakespeare, playing the role of Bill Sikes in a television adaptation of Oliver Twist, the children's classic The Worst Witch, Titanic, Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, Alice, Return to Cranford, and many more.

Although Curry has starred in numerous television series throughout his career he has only had main roles in two, Over the Top, a sitcom which he also produced, and the revival series of Family Affair. Both were cancelled after one season.

One of Curry's best-known television roles, and best-known roles overall, is Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the 1990 horror miniseries It. In It, his performance received critical acclaim and praise from both critics and audiences. Curry was praised for effectively capturing King's original interpretation of Pennywise.

Voice acting

Curry has also appeared in a large number of animated television shows and films, starting with the performance of the Serpent in Duckman, Lord Dragaunus in The Mighty Ducks, Professor Finbar Calamitous in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Slagar the Cruel in Redwall, and G. Gordon Godfrey in Young Justice. He also became the voice of Palpatine in Star Wars: The Clone Wars upon the death of Ian Abercrombie.

Curry also appeared in a number of animated films such as FernGully: The Last Rainforest, The Pebble and the Penguin, all three Rugrats films as side characters (excluding Rugrats Go Wild where he reprises his role as Nigel Thornberry), Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost, The Wild Thornberrys Movie, The Cat Returns, Valiant, Garfield: Tail of Two Kitties, Fly Me to the Moon, ¡Mucha Lucha!: The Return of El Maléfico and many more.

Curry has also lent his voice to numerous video games, such as, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers and Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, where he voiced the titular character, Gabriel Knight, Toonstruck, Sacrifice, Brütal Legend and Dragon Age: Origins.

His audio book work includes Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Geraldine McCaughrean's Peter Pan in Scarlet, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix.[14]

Musical career

Aside from his performances on various soundtrack records, Curry has had some success as a solo musical artist. Curry received classical vocal training as a boy. He has mentioned that his musical influences included jazz vocalists such as Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong and idolized The Beatles and The Rolling Stones as a teenager. In 1978, A&M Records released Curry's debut solo album Read My Lips. The album featured an eclectic range of songs (mostly covers) performed in diverse genres. Highlights of the album are a reggae version of the Beatles song "I Will", a rendition of "Wake Nicodemus" featuring the Pipes and Drums of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, and a bar-room ballad, "Alan", composed by Canadian singer/songwriter Tony Kosinec.

The following year, Curry released his second and most successful album Fearless. The LP was more rock-oriented than Read My Lips and mostly featured original songs rather than cover versions. The record included Curry's only US charting songs: "I Do the Rock" and "Paradise Garage".

Curry's third and final album, Simplicity, was released in 1981, again by A&M Records. This record, which did not sell as well as the previous offerings, combined both original songs and cover versions. The writing, production and musician roster for Curry's solo albums included an impressive list of collaborators, including Bob Ezrin and David Sanborn.

In 1989, A&M released The Best of Tim Curry on CD and cassette, featuring songs from his albums (including a live version of "Alan") and a previously unreleased song, a live cover version of Bob Dylan's "Simple Twist of Fate".

Curry toured America with his band through the late 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. He also performed in Roger Waters' (of Pink Floyd fame) 1990 production of The Wall in Berlin, as the prosecutor.

Although Curry's first album was released in 1978, he had previously recorded a 9-track album for Lou Adler's Ode Records in 1976. However, the album remained unreleased in its entirety until February 2010 when it was made available as a legal download entitled ...From The Vaults (though four tracks from these sessions had been released on a 1990 Rocky Horror box set). The album, produced by Adler, included Curry's rendition of The Supremes' hit "Baby Love".

Personal life

Curry has never been married nor had any children. He had one sibling, an older sister named Judy Curry, who died of a brain tumor in the early 2000s.[15] Curry is an agnostic.[16]

On 23 May 2013, Curry was said to have suffered a major stroke at his home in Los Angeles. Although many sources suggested the stroke had made it difficult for him to speak, his longtime agent Marcia Hurwitz told the Daily Mail "Tim is doing great," and that 'He absolutely can speak and is recovering at this time and in great humour'.[17] Shortly after the initial report, Hurwitz told The Hollywood Reporter that the stroke actually occurred in July 2012 and that Curry had been going to physical therapy.[18]



Awards and nominations

Year Result Award Title Category
1975 Nominated Drama Desk Award The Rocky Horror Show Best Actor in a Musical
1981 Nominated Tony Award Amadeus Best Actor in a Play
Nominated Drama Desk Award Best Actor in a Play
1982 Won Royal Variety Club Award Pirates of the Penzance Stage Actor of the Year
1991 Won Daytime Emmy Award Peter Pan and the Pirates Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series
1993 Nominated Tony Award My Favorite Year Best Actor in a Musical
Nominated American Comedy Award Passed Away Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
1994 Nominated Emmy Award Tales from the Crypt Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
1995 Nominated CableACE Award Best Actor in a Dramatic Series
Nominated Daytime Emmy Award Mighty Max Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program
1996 Nominated Razzie Award Congo Worst Supporting Actor
1997 Nominated Online Film & Television Association Titanic Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture or Miniseries
1998 Nominated Annie Award Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
2002 Nominated Grammy Award The Bad Beginning Best Spoken Word Album for Children
2005 Nominated Tony Award Monty Python's Spamalot Best Actor in a Musical
2007 Nominated Laurence Olivier Award Best Actor in a Musical
Won Whatsonstage Theatregoers' Choice Award Best Actor in a Musical


  1. ^ "Tim Curry Biography (1946–)". Retrieved 15 September 2009. 
  2. ^ Mervyn Rothstein, "Tim Curry Plunges Ahead Into the Past, Part IV", New York Times, 24 January 1990
  3. ^ Harding, James (1987). The Rocky Horror Show Book. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. page 45
  4. ^ "Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic :: Sky One". 18 January 2008. Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2009. 
  5. ^ Mark Brown (20 October 2006). "'We were all going to join this street theater troupe. Tim got a job in Hair the next day. All he had to do was sing'". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2008. 
  6. ^  
  7. ^ a b Gross, Terry. "Star of 'Spamalot,' Actor Tim Curry". NPR. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Film Talk (September 1975). "Mark Caldwell interview with Tim Curry". Stoic Productions. 
  9. ^ "In Step With: Tim Curry". Parade Magazine. 29 May 2005. 
  10. ^ "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Announcement". 27 May 2011. 
  11. ^ "Russell Brand to Star in Eric Idle Stage Musical WHAT ABOUT DICK?". Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  12. ^ "Eric Idle Workshops 'What About Dick?' with Izzard, Curry". Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Jones 1986, p. 24.
  14. ^ "Audiobooks". Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  15. ^ Tim Curry's back on the Grail trail Standard, 25 September 2006
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ Rocky Horror Show star Tim Curry, 67, recovering at his LA home after suffering a major stroke Daily Mail, 24 May 2013
  18. ^ Tim Curry Recovering From Stroke The Hollywood Reporter, 24 May 2013

External links

New show Actor playing King Arthur in Spamalot (Broadway)
17 March 2005 (Opening) –
19 December 2005
Succeeded by
Simon Russell Beale
21 December 2005 –
26 April 2006
New show Actor playing King Arthur in Spamalot (West End)
30 September 2006 (Opened 16 October 2006) –
6 January 2007
Succeeded by
Simon Russell Beale
24 January 2007 –
July 2007
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