Cyril Cusack: 1910-1993

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Irish folk singer Liam Clancy (of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem) was called "Willie" until he played a bit part in Cyril Cusack's 1953 Dublin production of Playboy of the Western World. Cusack gave him the more Irish sounding "Liam" for the run of the play, but Clancy has used the name ever since.

Cyril Cusack played clergymen in 10 films: Gone to Earth, The Wild Heart, 80,000 Suspects, Tam Lin, Catholics, Jesus of Nazareth, True Confessions, Don Camillo, Oedipus the King, and The Tenth Man. He also played a priest on the Irish TV series Strumpet City.

He speaks the opening lines in Franco Zeffirelli's 1977 TV miniseries Jesus of Nazareth. (They are taken from different books of the Old Testament: "In the hour when the King Messiah comes, He shall stand on the roof of the temple and proclaim that the time of deliverance has come. Those who believe and are faithful to God will rejoice in the light that will rise upon them. As it is written, 'Arise, shine, for thy light is come.' Only take courage and be careful to observe all things written in the law of Moses. And turn not aside from them, neither to the right hand nor to the left. Take care only this: In all diligence that thou love the Lord thy God. Amen. ...")

Cyril Cusack made four Shakespearean films: The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, The Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It.

He appeared in four films produced by the legendary Powell and Pressburger: The Small Back Room, Ill Met by Moonlight, Gone to Earth, and the Elusive Pimpernel.

Cusack made three movies with David Niven: The Elusive Pimpernel, Soldiers Three, and Where the Spies Are.

He did four with Dirk Bogarde: Esther Waters, Ill Met by Moonlight, Once a Jolly Swagman, and The Spanish Gardener.

He worked on four films and a television show with Dan O'Herlihy: Odd Man Out, The Blue Veil; Soldiers Three, A Terrible Beauty (a.k.a. Night Fighters), and Frederick Forsyth's video short story, "A Careful Man." He also worked with O'Herlihy's brother, director Michael O'Herlihy, twice: in "A Careful Man" and Cry of the Innocent. (Michael O'Herlihy was a regular director of many classic American television series, among them Gunsmoke, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Hawaii Five-O, M*A*S*H, Miami Vice, and Matlock.)

Cyril Cusack and James Mason made five films together: Late Extra, Odd Man Out, Paura in città, Jesus of Nazareth, and Dr. Fischer of Geneva. In Paura in città, Cusack plays a character named Giacomo Masoni--which in English translates to "James Mason."

He also appeared in five films with Richard Burton: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The Taming of the Shrew, Lovespell, Wagner, and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

He worked with Irish character actor Noel Purcell in six films: Odd Man Out, The Blue Lagoon, Jacqueline, The Rising of the Moon, Shake Hands With the Devil, and Johnny Nobody.

Sir Michael Hordern made eight films with Cyril Cusack: The Man Who Never Was, The Spanish Gardener; The Spy Who Came In from the Cold; The Taming of the Shrew; Juggernaut; Danny, the Champion of the World; The Fool; and Memento Mori. Memento Mori, which takes a wry look at death, was Cusack's last film and the second to last for Hordern, who was a year younger.

Cyril Cusack shares his November 26 birthday with fellow actor/writer/director (and friend and mentor of Richard Burton), Emlyn Williams (who was born five years earlier in Wales). Both made cameo appearances in the 1969 film David Copperfield.

The name Cyril comes from Greek and means "lordly." Cusack was originally de Cussac, after the town in Normandy from which the family first came to Ireland in the 12th century with the Anglo-Norman invasion. The family became acculturated within Irish society, holding prominent positions as land and church administrators until the 18th century, when they refused to give up their religious beliefs for those of the English establishment. (One member of the family, Captain George Cusack, who died in 1674, was a notorious pirate.) The Irish form of Cusack is Cíomhsóg or MacIosog. The name has become less common in Ireland and is now found primarily in the province of Munster.

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