Biography

Born in South Africa, Cyril Cusack was the son of Irish actress Alice Cole. Cusack was seven years old when, in the company of his mother, he made his stage debut in East Lynne as the consumptive Willie. That same year (1917), he appeared in his first film. Extensively educated at the Dominican College in Newburgh (Ireland) and University College in Dublin, he launched his adult acting career with the Abbey Players in 1932. During his 14 years at the Abbey, he appeared in 65 productions; his favorite role, and the one with which he was most strongly identified, was Christy Mahon in Playboy of the Western World. In 1935, he became director of the Gaelic Players, and the following year made his London bow in Ah, Wilderness. He went on to appear with the Old Vic and the RSC, and in 1944 organized his own troupe, Cyril Cusack Productions. In 1947, his screen career, which had been moving in jumps and starts since 1935, went into full gear with Odd Man Out (1947). Generally shut out of leading roles because of his diminutive stature, he had a few starring films to his credit, notably 1968's Galileo. Otherwise, he was most often seen as a cleric or comic servant, and occasionally as a persuasive menace, notably as the Fire Chief in Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (1967). He was also the author of two volumes of poetry. Twice married, Cusack is the father of six children, four of them actresses. In 1990, he appeared with his daughters, Niamh, Sinead, and Sorcha, in a Gate Theatre staging of Chekhov's Three Sisters. Though suffering from motor neuron disease in his final year, Cyril Cusack managed to make one last screen appearance in Ron Howard's Far and Away (1993). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi