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Stamp, Terence (1938-)


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Confidently working-class and proud of his cockney origins (the son of a Thames tug master), 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, and he soon became associated with a "swinging Sixties" lifestyle, with celebrity girlfriends.

After Webber-Douglas training and (brief) theatre experience, he impressed as the angelic, ill-fated young seaman Billy Budd (d. Peter Ustinov, 1962), for which he received Oscar and BAFTA nominations.

His brooding looks made him ideal for portraying enigmatic, other-worldly characters, such as The Collector (UK/US, d. William Wyler, 1965), an unbalanced recluse who kidnaps art student Samantha Eggar. Resplendent in soldier's uniform, he was a dashing Sergeant Troy in Far from the Madding Crowd (d. John Schlesinger, 1967), impressing Julie Christie with his sabre display.

Bored by the trappings of fame, he spent much of the 1970s exploring alternative lifestyles in India, occasionally returning to Europe to appear in continental films.

Notable later roles include Prince Lubovedsky in Peter Brook's Meetings with Remarkable Men (1978), and the haunted ex-con in The Hit (d. Stephen Frears, 1984), one of his finest performances. He has appeared in supporting roles in many US films since 1984, and impressed as Bernadette in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Australia, d. Stefan Elliott, 1994,), a cult international success.

In recent years Stamp has appeared in many films though surprisingly few in Britain, but was unquestionably an icon of 1960s British cinema.

Autobiographies: Stamp Album (1987), Coming Attractions (1988), Double Feature (1989).

Roger Phillip Mellor, Encyclopedia of British Cinema

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