30 January 2014

Terence Stamp

Actor Terence Stamp (1939) is an icon of the 1960s. He dated Julie Christie, Brigitte Bardot and Jean Shrimpton, and worked with such directors as John Schlesinger, Ken Loach, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Joseph Losey. In 1995 he was chosen by Empire as #59 of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history.

Terence Stamp
Vintage postcard.

Brooding Looks

Terence Stamp was born in Stepney, the 'Cockney' part of London, in 1939. He was the eldest of the five children of Ethel Esther (née Perrott) and Thomas Stamp, who was a tugboat captain. His younger brother, Christopher Stamp, would become a impresario and film producer for the pop group The Who.

On leaving school Stamp worked in a variety of advertising agencies in London, working his way up to a very respectable wage.

After appearing in several plays, he made his film debut as an angelic, ill-fated young seaman in the film adaptation of Herman Melville's Billy Budd (Peter Ustinov, 1962). His portrayal of the title character brought him an Oscar and a BAFTA nomination, a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year, and international attention.

Roger Phillip Mellor notes in the Encyclopaedia of British Cinema: "Terence Stamp was one of a new generation of stars with fresh attitudes who found favour in the 1960s. And with his soulful, intense looks, ladies found him irresistible".

He then appeared opposite Laurence Olivier in Term of Trial (Peter Glenville, 1962). He won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival got his lead in William Wyler's adaptation of John Fowles' The Collector (1965) with Samantha Eggar.

His brooding looks made him ideal for portraying enigmatic, other-worldly characters, such as in Modesty Blaise (Joseph Losey, 1966) with Monica Vitti.

He also starred in Ken Loach's first film Poor Cow (1967), and John Schlesinger's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) starring Julie Christie. His romance with Julie Christie received extensive media coverage during London's 'swinging 60s'.

He and his next girlfriend, pre-supermodel Jean Shrimpton, were one of the most photographed couples of Mod London.

Terence Stamp
Vintage card. Photo: Coprensa.


In 1968, Terence Stamp journeyed to Italy to star in Federico Fellini's Toby Dammit, a 50-minute segment of the Edgar Allan Poe film adaptation Histoires extraordinaires/Spirits of the Dead (1968).

He lived in Italy for several years, during which time his film work included Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema (1968) opposite Silvana Mangano, and Una Stagione all'inferno/A Season in Hell (Nelo Risi, 1970) as the poet Arthur Rimbaud opposite Jean-Claude Brialy in the role of Paul Verlaine.

He withdrew from mainstream films after his girlfriend Jean Shrimpton, left him, and he went on a 10-year sabbatical in India. He spent time in Pune at the ashram, meditating and studying the teachings of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

He returned home in the late 1970s to portray Kryptonian super-villain General Zod in Superman (Richard Donner, 1978). Stamp went on to reprise his role as General Zod in the sequel, Superman II (Richard Lester, 1980).

In 2003, Stamp returned to the Superman myths in a new role, by vocally playing Clark Kent's biological father, Jor-El, in the WB/CW television series Smallville (2001-2009).

A publicity shot for The Collector (William Wyler, 1965) showing Terence Stamp holding a chloroform pad was used for the cover of The Smiths single What Difference Does It Make. After some copies were printed, Stamp decided he didn't want his photo to be used, and the rest of the copies appeared with Morrissey in the exact same pose, looking very much like him but holding a glass of milk instead. Later, Stamp agreed and the photo was reinstated on the 12" single cover.

The Smiths: What Difference Does It Make? 12" single
The Smiths: What Difference Does It Make? 12" British 45 single (1984) with credit: Cover Star: Terence Stamp (courtesy Colombia Pictures). Source: John Elsmlie@Flickr.

Transsexual Bernadette

Terence Stamp appeared as the Supergrass in Stephen Frears' The Hit (1984), as the transsexual Bernadette in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Stephen Elliot, 1994) and as a vengeful gangster in The Limey (1999), a role especially created for him by its director Steven Soderbergh.

Stamp, who has been wheat and dairy intolerant since the 1960s, launched The Stamp Collection range of organic wheat and dairy free products in 1994. He also co-wrote a cookbook with Elizabeth Buxton to provide alternative recipes for those who are wheat and dairy-intolerant.

He also wrote three autobiographies: Stamp Album (1987), Coming Attractions (1988), and Double Feature (1989).

In the cinema, Stamp could be seen in Hollywood blockbusters (and often megaflops) like Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace (George Lucas, 1999) as Chancellor Finis Valorum, Bowfinger (Frank Oz, 1999) with Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, Red Planet (Antony Hoffman, 2000) with Val Kilmer, My Boss's Daughter (David Zucker, 2003) with Ashton Kutcher, Disney's The Haunted Mansion (Rob Minkoff, 2003) opposite Eddie Murphy, Elektra (Rob Bowman, 2005) with Jennifer Garner, and Valkyrie (Bryan Singer, 2008) starring Tom Cruise.

He also appeared in European productions like Ma femme est une actrice/My Wife Is An Actress (Yvan Attal, 2001) with Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Dead Fish (Charley Stadler, 2004) with Robert Carlyle.

Terence Stamp has been married to Elizabeth O Rourke from 2002 till their divorce in 2008.

Recently, Stamp returned to Great Britain to star in the films Song for Marion (Paul Andrew Williams, 2012) and appeared in Canada in The Art of the Steal (Jonathan Sobol, 2013) with Jay Baruchel and Kurt Russell.

Scene from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994). Source: LiFers (YouTube)

Sources: Roger Phillip Mellor (Encyclopedia of British Cinema), The Madcap Laughs and Tonto (IMDb), IMDb and Wikipedia.

1 comment:

Seppo Marx said...

After Billy Budd, no woman had a snowball's chance in hell of resisting him!