Cyril Cusack (26 November 1910 – 7 October 1993) was an Irish Shakespearean actor, who appeared in more than 90 films.
Born in Durban, Natal, South Africa he was the son of a sergeant in the mounted police and an actress. His parents separated when he was young and his mother took him to England, and then to Ireland. Cusack’s mother and her partner, Breifne O’Rorke, joined the O’Brien and Ireland Players. Cyril made his first stage performance at the age of seven. Cusack was educated in Newbridge College, Newbridge, Co. Kildare, and University College, Dublin. He left without a degree and joined the Abbey Theatre in 1932. Between then and 1945 he performed in over sixty productions, particularly excelling in the plays of Sean O’Casey. In 1947, Cusack formed his own company and staged productions in Dublin, Paris and New York.
In 1963, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, England and appeared there for several seasons. By this stage he had established a successful career in films.
Cusack was twice married:
1) Maureen Kiely Cusack, an actress, died in 1977, with whom he had three daughters (Sinéad, Sorcha and Niamh) and two sons (Paul and Padraig).
2) Mary Rose Cunningham (1979-1993); one daughter (Catherine)
In 1963, Cusack won a Jacob’s Award for his performance in the Telefís Éireann production of Triptych. He received honorary doctorates in 1977 and 1980 from the NUI and the Uni-versity of Dublin respectively.
Cusack in his later life became a campaigner for conservative causes in Ireland, notably in his opposition to abortion, where he became a frequent letter-writer into the main Liberal Irish newspaper, The Irish Times. His conservative credentials came under scrutiny following his death and the revelation that he had not been faithful in his first marriage, with a long-term mistress, Mary Rose Cunningham, who bore him a daughter, Catherine. Cusack married Ms Cunningham following his first wife’s death.
Regarding his religious faith, Cusack commented “Religion promotes the divine discontent within oneself, so that one tries to make oneself a better person and draw oneself closer to God.”
Cusack was a longtime friend of Irish Attorney General, Chief Justice and President of Ireland Cearbhall O Dalaigh, whom he got to know in University College Dublin in the early 1930s.
Charrington in George Orwell’s 1984
Mick Brian’s son in Knocknagow (1918)
Pat in Odd Man Out (1947) with James Mason
James Carter in The Blue Lagoon (1949)
Cpl. Taylor in The Small Back Room (1949)
Edward Marston in Gone to Earth (1950)
Chauvelin in The Elusive Pimpernel (1950)
Garcia in The Spanish Gardener (1956)
Captain Sandy Rendel in Ill Met by Moonlight (1957)
Control in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)
Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
Chief Insp. Hubbard in Dial M for Murder (1967)
Fireman captain in Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Glaucus in Harold and Maude (1971)
An old man in All the way, boys (1973)
The gunsmith Gozzi in Day of the Jackal (1973)
Father Manus in Catholics (1973)
uncredited as Major O’Neill in Juggernaut (1974)
Cardinal Danaher in True Confessions (1981)
Mr. Charrington, shopkeeper and covert Thought Police informant, in the film version of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
Lord Castlewelland in My Left Foot (1989) with Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker
Danty Duff in Far and Away (1992)
Mayor Barthelemy Piechut in Clochemerle (1972)
Uncle Peter in Glenroe
Cusack’s last stage performance was in Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, in which three of his daughters played the sisters. His four daughters, Niamh (born 1959), Sorcha (born 1949), Sinéad (born 1948) and Catherine (born 1968) are actresses. His sons, Paul Cusack and Pádraig Cusack, work as a producer with RTÉ and as Associate Producer at the National Theatre, London, respectively.
In October 1993, Cyril Cusack died in London from motor neurone disease, one month before what would have been his 83rd birthday.