|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/07/13 10:54 英语沙龙|
“Detective Poirot” Takes His Final Bow
Sir Peter Ustinov, a brilliant wit and mimic who won two Oscars for an acting career that ranged from the evil Nero in Quo Vadis to the detective Poirot in Death on the Nile, died on March 28 in Switzerland. He was 82.
Peter Alexander Ustinov was born in London on April 16, 1921, the only child of a Russian artist mother and a journalist father. Ustinov claimed also to have Swiss, Ethiopian, Italian and French blood everything except English. He was performing by age 3, mimicking politicians of the day when his parents invited Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie for dinner. The youth attended the private Westminster School in London until he was 16, when he began studying acting with Michel SaintDenis at the London Theater Studio. Within two years he made his London stage debut and gained increasing notice by writing and acting in two revues1 and writing five plays.
Ustinov made some 90 movies and also wrote books and plays. He directed films, plays and operas. Among his film roles were a nomad2 in the outback3 who befriends a family in The Sundowners4, a oneeyed slave in The Egyptian, and detective Poirot in Death on the Nile.
Ustinov won best supporting actor Oscars for the role of Batiatus, owner of the gladiator5 school in Spartacus (1960), and as Arthur Simpson, an English smalltime6 black marketeer in Topkapi (1965). His Nero the Roman emperor who presided over1 the throwing of Christians to the lions won him a Golden Globe for best supporting actor in the 1951 movie Quo Vadis. He also won three Emmys, portraying the English lexicographer2 Sam uel Johnson in Dr. Johnson and Socrates in Barefoot in Athens. In A Storm in Summer, his Emmy came for playing an aged Jewish delicatessen3 owner.
Ustinov rated his satisfactions in this order: 1) writing novels, 2) writing short stories, 3) playwriting, 4) acting, 5) directing and 6) producing. “Writing has always been my deepest love,” he said in 1982. “Acting is intrinsically4 easy. You’re like a chameleon5, adapting yourself to various circumstances and to what other people are writing. Writing is much more mysterious, and more personal.” Among his novels were The Loser (1960) and Krumnagel (1971); his short stories included Add a Dash of Pity (1959) and The Frontiers of the Sea (1966).
Ustinov later became a staunch6 advocate for UNESCO. He was for more than 20 years a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund, and for several years was a rector7 of the University of Dundee in Scotland. He also set up a foundation dedicated to understanding between people across the globe and between generations. He was knighted by the Queen of England in 1990.
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