Peter Ustinov (1921-2004)
Sir Peter Ustinov (born Peter Alexander Ustinov) was born in London in 1921,
after his father, an officer in the Russian Czar's army, refused to take an oath
to the Eastern Orthodox church because he was a Protestant. His mother was Nadia
Benois, the designer daughter of Alexandre Benois, the St. Petersburg designer
of the first big Diaghilev ballets.
Educated at the Westminster School in London, he left at 16 because he hated it,
but had almost instant success on the London stage. His first play was staged
when he was only 19.
His acting career lasted more than 60 years, and included Academy Awards for two
supporting roles - in 1961 for Spartacus, and in 1965 for Topkapi.
He was also nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for "Quo Vadis" in 1951,
and best screenplay for 1968's "Hot Millions".
One of his most famous film roles was as the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot in a
number of film adaptations of Agatha Christie's novels.
Famous for his rich, musical speaking voice, he was also fluent in French,
German, Italian, Russian and Spanish, and could also speak Greek and Turkish.
Ustinov was married three times.
He died of heart failure on the 28th March, 2004, at Genolier, Switzerland.
Ustinov will be remembered as a master of many things. He was the portly British
character actor, the master dialectician and famed entertaining raconteur who
shone in comedic roles and dramatic performances alike, and the acclaimed writer
who sold more books in Russia than Agatha Christie and Sartre combined!