Horror History: Richard Wordsworth

richardwordsworthRichard Wordsworth
Born Jan. 19th, 1915 – Died Nov. 21st, 1993

There are a few actors that can have such an impact on screen…without ever uttering a single word. One of those was Richard Wordsworth when he played doomed astronaut Victor Caroon in Hammer’s breakout film The Quatermass Xperiment (1955). Playing the only ‘survivor’ from a rocket flight into space, he comes back less of a man, but more of something else. Just by facial expressions, he shows the audience the internal hell he is going through as he slowly transforms into something we’ve never seen before. Hammer scholar Wayne Kinsey says his performance ‘steals the show’, while authors Tom Johnson and Deborah Del Vecchio state his performance is a ‘Karloff level performance’.

He only made two other horror films, both for Hammer. The next one was a small role as a worker in a hospital for the poor, run by Peter Cushing’s Dr. Frankenstein. Once again, even though his role his small, it is very memorable. But it his last role for Hammer, that of a poor and simple beggar, that once again pulls at our hearts, in Curse of the Werewolf. Thrown to the dungeon and forgotten, turning into a beast over the years, he attacks and rapes the beautiful Yvonne Romain who was locked in the jail with him.

He was the great-great-grandson of the famous poet Williams Wordsworth, and would later tour the states in a one man play based on his life and works. He almost followed his father into the clergy, but was later drawn to the stage, enrolling in the Embassy School of Acting in London. He would work with many of the greats of the English stage, such as Alec Guinness and John Gielgud, before appearing in a trilogy of Hammer Horrors. And while he only appeared in three titles, we are able to see the incredible talent pouring out from this man….sometimes even without a single word.

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