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Charles Laughton Dead at 63

Dec. 16, 1962 - Charles Laughton (pictured in 1938), whose outstanding performances over three decades made him the movies’ top character actor, died last night of cancer. He was 63 years old. The British-born performer, who had been in a coma for some time, succumbed at his home in Hollywood. His wife, actress Elsa Lanchester, was at the bedside as was his brother Frank, a retired hotel man. Mr. Laughton was hospitalized last July 30 after previous treatment in New York. He underwent surgery for a collapsed vertebra, and afterwards it was announced he had cancer of the spine. He went home Nov. 30. Mr. Laughton’s appearances on the stage, in films, and television won critical and popular acclaim. Many will remember his Bible readings to bedridden veterans and to the general public during World War II. He won the Academy Award in 1933 for his lead performance in “The Private Life of Henry VIII.” He directed one film, a thriller called “The Night of the Hunter,” which was not initially well received but is acclaimed today as a classic. Mr. Laughton’s death comes at a time of year when he frequently had been in the public eye for his readings of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”


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