Donald Pleasence was a renowned British actor who portrayed James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice (1967). He was born in England in the town of Worksop, Nottinghamshire on October 5th, 1919.
From an early age Pleasence had the dream of becoming an actor. In 1939 Pleasence made his acting debut on the Bailiwick of Jersey where he appeared as Hareton Earnshaw in the play Wuthering Heights.
|“This organisation does not tolerate failure.”|
After early career success, which included performing in London, Donald Pleasence's life was affected by the Second World War. He initially worked in lumbering before joining the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force (RAF).
Pleasence later found himself in a German prisoner-of-war camp after his aircraft was shot down in France. Here, he experienced brutal beatings and mental torture before being set free in 1946.
After the war, Donald Pleasence made a quick return to acting in theatre. He worked with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (1948-50) and Bristol Old Vic (1950-51). In 1952, Pleasence received great praise for his performance as William Mossop in Hobson's Choice.
Pleasence also performed for one season in Stratford-upon-Avon at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. In the mid-1950s Donald Pleasence decided to pursue acting in movies and television, and made his film debut in The Beachcomber (1954).
After regular appearances in movies and TV during the mid to late 1950s, Pleasence returned to theatre in the 1960 premiere of The Caretaker. In this famous play by Harold Pinter, Donald Pleasence played the role of Davies and received great praise for his performance.
In 1963, Pleasence starred in the film adaptation of The Caretaker with Robert Shaw and Alan Bates. In the same year Pleasence appeared in a stellar cast in the timeless classic The Great Escape.
This led to further successful movies including: the comedy Cul-de-sac (1966); the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice (1967), where he played villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld; and the Western Will Penny (1968).
In 1967, Donald Pleasence received glowing tributes for his performance in the Robert Shaw play The Man in the Glass Booth. During the 1970s Pleasence began to take roles in many horror films. The most popular being the 1979 movie Halloween in which he stars as Doctor Sam Loomis.
Donald Pleasence appeared in various films until the mid-1990s. He also appeared in the 1991 stage production of The Caretaker with Peter Howitt and Colin Firth. Donald Pleasence died on February 2nd 1995 in Saint-Paul, France.
Here is a list of the most popular Donald Pleasence movies:
The key villain James Bond faces in You Only Live Twice (1967) is Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He is portrayed by the well-known British actor Donald Pleasence and is head of the criminal organisation SPECTRE.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is trying to spark a World War on behalf of China by capturing spacecraft from the United States and Soviet Union. To carry out his plan he uses his rocket, Bird 1, which is able to swallow other spacecraft with its opening nose cone.
Blofeld's lair is hidden within an inactive volcano in the mountains of Japan. It is complete with an extensive monorail system and a sliding crater roof depicting a volcanic lake.
Attached to the rocket launching base is Blofeld's lavishly adorned apartment which contains a pool of deadly piranhas. The base contains cave vents connected to the ocean for the expulsion of rocket exhaust. The vents contain a deadly phosgene gas for protection from intruders.
Under Ernst Stavro Blofeld's command are a loyal team of workers including: Mr Osato (Teru Shimada), the owner of Osato Chemicals & Engineering; Helga Brandt (Karin Dor), Osato's secretary and SPECTRE No. 11 agent; and Hans (Ronald Rich), Blofeld's tough bodyguard.
When the U.S. shuttle Jupiter 16 is seized in outer space, James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to Japan to investigate. He takes an aerial surveillance of the mountains in a nifty autogyro Little Nellie and is attacked by several of Blofeld's helicopters.
Blofeld then commands the seizure of an airborne Soviet shuttle before meeting two representatives of the Chinese government in his apartment. He informs the pair that his piranha fish "can strip a man to the bone in thirty seconds". He then requests $100 million in gold, an advance on their deal. When the men react angrily, Blofeld coolly states, "Extortion is my business."
Helga Brandt is then cruelly murdered for failing to kill James Bond. Ernst Stavro Blofeld opens a trapdoor on a bridge over the pool of piranhas leading to her ghastly death. He then commands Osato to kill Agent 007.
Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama) and James Bond then discover an apparent lake inside a volcano crater that is actually the roof to Blofeld's rocket base. As Kissy returns for assistance from head of the Japanese Secret Service, Tiger Tanaka (Tetsurō Tamba), Bond secretly enters the base and disguises himself as an astronaut.
007 is soon captured and brought to the control room where the master villain states: "Allow me to introduce myself, I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld." This is the first time in the James Bond movie series that Blofeld reveals his face after previous appearances in From Russia with Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965).
Ernst Stavro Blofeld then informs Bond that he is about to initiate a "little war" between Russia and United States with the resulting world power becoming Communist China. After Bird 1 is launched into orbit to capture the latest U.S. Jupiter spacecraft, Blofeld orders his men to open fire on Tanaka and his team of Ninja fighters who are now inside the crater.
Proudly Blofeld informs Bond that the firing power inside the crater is enough to take care of a small army. He then allows Bond to smoke a cigarette, little to know that it's actually a weapon. Agent 007 then uses the rocket firing cigarette to kill a guard and open the crater allowing Tanaka and his Ninjas to begin their assault on Blofeld's lair.
Bond is soon captured before Blofeld looks him in the eye and states, "I shall look forward personally to exterminating you Mr Bond." With the base under attack, Blofeld has the control room shutter windows closed. He then explains to 007 that nothing can prevent the impending seizure of the U.S. spacecraft.
Blofeld kills Mr Osato before jumping into a monorail vehicle and preparing to shoot Bond. Agent 007 is saved at the last second by a Ninja throwing star from Tanaka. Blofeld then takes off by monorail whilst Bond obtains the key to the rocket exploder after a brutal struggle with Hans.
007 then enters the burning control room and presses the exploder button to destroy Bird 1 and save the Jupiter shuttle from being captured.
Blofeld escapes after pressing a button in a rock wall which sets of a chain of explosions inside the lair. As Suzuki, Tanaka, Bond and the remaining Ninjas escape via the cave vents, the volcano erupts in catastrophic fashion.
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