David Hemmings (1941-2003) b. Guildford, Surrey, England.
Iconic British actor, director and producer David Leslie Edward Hemmings started his career as a boy soprano aged nine, educated at at Glyn College, Epsom, he appeared in several works by composer Benjamin Britten. He then moved on to an acting and directing career in the cinema. He left singing to study at the Epsom School of Art when he was 15 and by then he had already started appearing in films from 1954.
He made his first film appearance in Ealing’s The Rainbow Jacket (1954), but it was in the mid-sixties that he made his first major starring role as a mod photographer in Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s swinging London tale Blow-Up (1966). He then appeared as Dildano in the cult science fiction film Barbarella (1968). A string of major British films followed, including the wizard Mordred in the musical Camelot (1967), as impetuous Captain Nolan in the satirical war epic The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) and Alfred the Great (1969).
Other film roles continued in the 1970s, including parts in Richard Lester’s lumbering thriller Juggernaut (1974), Italian horror film Profondo Rosso (1975), Richard Fleischer’s Crossed Swords (1977) and director Michael Apted’s The Squeeze (1977). Hemmings had also started working behind the camera too. In the late 1960s he left London for a brief holiday in the Seychelles and ended up working in Australia and New Zealand; co-founding a film and finance company with John Daly called Hemdale and making more than 20 films. His directorial debut was Running Scared (1972) and he also directed Just a Gigolo (1979) and an adaptation of James Herbert’s novel The Survivor (1981), starring Robert Powell and Jenny Agutter and the adventure film The Race for the Yankee Zephyr (1981).
Meanwhile his career on US television blossomed. Working as a director in Los Angeles during the 1980s he helmed episodes of some of America’s biggest TV shows, including private investigator drama Magnum PI and adventure series The A-Team, Airwolf and Murder, She Wrote. He made a low-key return to acting in Ken Russell’s screen version of DH Lawrence’s The Rainbow (1989), but it was in 2000 that he marked his proper comeback, as Cassius in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000). Scott’s brother Tony later directed him in the espionage thriller Spy Game (2001). He also appeared in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002) and latterly alongside Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (2003).
In Britain, he co-starred in Mean Machine (2001), playing a prison governor alongside Vinnie Jones and won particular praise for his performance in Last Orders (2002). Hemmings was married four times – aged 19 to his first wife Genista Ouvry, but that ended once he met US actress Gayle Hunnicutt whilst promoting Blow Up. In 1976 Hemmings married Prudence de Casembroot; but they divorced in the late 1990s.and Lucy Williams became his fourth wife.