Peter Ustinov Biography

Birthday: 1921-04-16
Place of Birth: London, England
Height: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
Wiki Biography: Peter Ustinov was two times Academy Award-winning film actor, director, writer, journalist, and raconteur. He wrote and directed many acclaimed stage plays and led numerous international theatrical productions. He was born Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinov on April 16, 1921, in Swiss Cottage, London, England. Ustinov was of Russian, German, French, Italian and Ethiopian descent, with ancestral connections to Russian nobility as well as the Ethiopian Royal Family. His grandmother, Magdalena, was daughter of a Swiss military engineer and Ethiopian princess. His father, Iona von Ustinov, also known as "Klop" in Russian and Yiddish, was a pilot in Luftwaffe during the First World War. In 1919 he joined his mother and sister in St. Petersburg, Russia. There he met artist Nadia Benois who worked for the Imperial Mariinsky Ballet and Opera House in St. Petersburg. In 1920, in a modest and discrete ceremony at a Russian-German Church in St. Petersburg, Ustinov's father married Nadia Benois. Later, when she was 7 months pregnant with Peter Ustinov, the couple emigrated from Russia in 1921, in the aftermath of the Communist Revolution. Young Peter Ustinov was brought up in a multi-lingual family, he was fluent in Russian, French, Italian, and German, and also was a native English speaker. He attended the Westminster College in 1934-37, took the drama and acting class under Michel St. Denis at the London Theatre Studio, 1937-39, and made his stage debut in 1938, in a theatre in Surrey. In 1939, he made his London stage debut in a revue sketch, then had regular performances with Aylesbury Repertory Company. In 1940 he made his film debut in Hullo, Fame! (1940). From 1942-46 Ustinov served as a private soldier with the British Army's Royal Sussex Regiment, during the Second World War. He was batman for David Niven and the two became life-long friends. Ustinov spent most of his service working with the Army Cinema Unit, where he was involved in making recruitment films, wrote plays, and appeared in three films as actor. At that time he wrote and directed his film, The Way Ahead (1944) (aka.. The Immortal Battalion). Eventually, Ustinov made a stellar film career as actor, director, and writer, appearing in more than 100 film and television productions. He was awarded two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, one for his role in Spartacus (1960) and one for his role in Topkapi (1964); and received two more Oscar nominations as an actor and writer. During the 1970s he had a slowdown in his career, before making a comeback as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile (1978) by director John Guillermin. In the 1980s, Ustinov reprized the Poirot role in several subsequent television movies and theatrical films, such as Evil Under the Sun (1982) and Appointment with Death (1988). Later he appeared as a sympathetic doctor in the disease thriller Lorenzo's Oil (1992). Ustinov's effortless style, his expertise in dialectal and physical comedy made him a regular guest of numerous talk shows and late night comedians. His witty and multi-dimensional humor was legendary, and he later published a collection of his jokes and quotations, summarizing his wide popularity as a raconteur. He was also an internationally acclaimed TV journalist. For one of his projects Ustinov covered over one hundred thousand miles and visited more than 30 Russian cities during the making of his well-received BBC television series 'Peter Ustinov's Russia'. In his autobiographical books, such as 'Dear Me' (1977) and 'My Russia' (1996), Ustinov revealed a wealth of thoughtful and deep observations about how his life and career was formed by his rich multi-cultural and multi-ethnic background. Ustinov wrote and directed numerous stage plays, having success with presenting his plays in several countries. His autobiographical play 'Photo Finish' was staged in New York, London, and St. Petersburg, Russia, where Peter Ustinov directed the acclaimed production starring Elena Solovey and Petr Shelokhonov. Outside of his film and acting professions, Ustinov served as a roving ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund. He was knighted Sir Peter Ustinov in 1990. From 1971 to his death in 2004, Ustinov lived in his own Chateau in the village of Bursins, Vaud, Switzerland, He died of a heart failure on March 28, 2004, in Genolier, Vaud, Switzerland. His funeral service was held at Geneva's historic cathedral of St. Pierre, and he was laid to rest in the village cemetery of Bursins, Switzerland. He was survived by three daughters, Tamara, Pavla, and Andrea, and son, Igor Ustinov. "I am an international citizen conceived in Russia, born in England, working in Hollywood, living in Switzerland, and touring the World" said Peter Ustinov.

Peter UstinovPhotos & Pictures

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TV Title Appeared As Year Genre
Clochemerle Narrator 1972 - 1972
Logan's Run Old Man 1976 Action
Over Easy 1977 Talk Show
The Bachelor Grandad James Shannon 2002 Romance
The Murdoch Mysteries Old Man 2004 Crime
Movies Title Appeared As Year Genre
One of Our Aircraft is Missing 1942 Action, Drama
The Goose Steps Out 1942
The True Glory 1945 Documentary
Quo Vadis Nero 1951 Drama, History, Romance
Beau Brummell Prince of Wales 1954 0
The Egyptian 1954 Drama, History
Spartacus Lentulus Batiatus 1960 0, 0
Romanoff and Juliet 1961 Comedy
The Sundowners Rupert Venneker 1961 Drama, Adventure
Billy Budd 1962 0
Topkapi Arthur Simon Simpson 1964 0, 0
John Goldfarb, Please Come Home 1965 Comedy
The Comedians 1967
Blackbeard's Ghost Capt. Blackbeard 1968
Viva Max! Gen. Maximilian Rodrigues de Santos 1969
One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing Hnup Wan 1975 Family, Adventure, Comedy
The Mouse and His Child 1977 Family, Animation
The Last Remake of Beau Geste Markov 1977 Comedy, Adventure
Death on the Nile Hercule Poirot 1978 Crime, Drama, Mystery
Ashanti Suleiman 1979
Winds of Change 1979
Grendel Grendel Grendel Grendel 1981
The Great Muppet Caper 1981 Comedy, Family, Music
Evil Under the Sun Hercule Poirot 1982 0, Game Show
Memed My Hawk Abdi Aga 1984 Drama
Tarka the Otter 1985 Adventure, Drama, Family
Appointment With Death Hercule Poirot 1988 Crime, Drama, Mystery
La révolution française André-Boniface-Louis Riquetti, vicomte de Mirabeau 1989 Drama, History, Thriller
Kids First Himself 1990
C'era un castello con 40 cani Le vétérinaire Muggione 1990 Comedy
Lorenzo's Oil Professor Nikolais 1992
The Phoenix and the Magic Carpet Grandfather / Phoenix 1995 Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Stiff Upper Lips 1998 Comedy
Animal Farm Old Major 1999 0, 0
The Bachelor Grandad James Shannon 1999 Romance, Comedy