Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: G is for Charles Gray!

I would like, if I may...

to take you on a strange journey...

I was vaguely aware as a very young man of the phenomenon known as The Rocky Horror Picture Show when my brother had a fling of enjoying it in his teen years - and I saw pictures from it - including the stern looking fellow who narrates the movie - but I didn't know who he was.

I would like....if I may...to take you on a strange journey...

Some years later I'd become a James Bond fan and was introduced to Charles Gray. Chronologically he'd first appeared in the series in 1967's You Only Live Twice - playing Henderson - a dryly funny contact for 007 who helps Bond work out who might be behind the hijacking of spacecraft right out of orbit. He doesn't last too long though, as someone shows up to silence him - sending Our Hero off on a chase.

"My name is Henderson..."

Four years later the Bond producers did something they have only done a few times - they brought Charles Gray back to play a different role in the next movie to produced in the series - and this time - he was the Bond Villain! Gray took over the role of Blofeld - previously played in shadow by various people and voiced by others in From Russia with Love and Thunderball - then shown in full form in the previously mentioned You Only Live Twice - where he was given marvelous menace by Donald Pleasence. I'm not sure why they recast - but Charles Gray got the job for Diamonds are Forever.

If the cutting remarks don't get you...
Ernst Stavro Blofeld - Diamonds Are Forever.

That's the timeline chronologically - but I'm not sure which order I saw the movies in - as I would watch whichever Bond movie ABC would show on their primetime movie nights - and grab up any 007 movies I found to rent when home video got going a couple of years later.

I do know my third time seeing Charles Gray was the role he's most known for in cult film circles - The Criminologist - the narrator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. With that marvelous voice and his cigarette holder - Gray gets the movie off to a funny start - all serious intonation and foreboding. By the time he's on his desk wildly gyrating to the "Time Warp" a little later in the movie - Charles Gray has become iconic in the role.

The first time I went to a midnight showing of RHPS my friends and I dressed up - they were Transylvanians - but I went as the Criminologist - even graying my hair with some spray-on hair stuff. Sadly, no pictures were taken of that night. From the middle of high school into college - we'd go to the long running midnight show a few times a year - I wore the Criminologist outfit two or three times.

Willing to sacrifice it all in The Devil Rides Out.

Charles Gray was born in 1928 in Bournemouth, Dorset, England and started out in show business on stage in the early 50's. He appeared on British television in 1957, then his first feature film the next year. The IMDB lists him for 131 acting roles - and he was still acting up to the year of his passing in 2000. He appeared in all kinds of shows and movies - with several productions of Sherlock Holmes casting him - and he played Sherlock's brother Mycroft in not less than three different shows about the Great Detective.

The Holmes Boys - Charles Gray playing Mycroft to Jeremy Brett's Sherlock.

I love seeing Charles Gray pop up in anything I'm watching, and of course I revisit the Bond films and Rocky Horror often. You should check out some Charles Gray when you can - he's a terrific actor!

"It's just a jump...to the left..."

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Always had great crazy facial expression... and of course the whole Bond and RHPS... :)

    Welcome in the letter "G"... thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

    There's no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!

    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

  2. Yay! I found a movie buff!!!
    A-Z; http://linensandlaurel.typepad.com/my_weblog/

  3. I love your blog! Charles Gray is awesome. I loved him best in Diamonds are Forever, my second favorite of all Bond films (the fave being Goldfinger).

    1. Thanks Luana! I love your blog too! Diamonds are Forever is a fun 007 movie for sure!

  4. I would love to see a pic of you as the Criminologist! I grew up with Rocky Horror and love the originality of not dressing up as a main character, I always went as Magenta.

    1. I wish I had one! Magenta is a great character - do you have pics of that? And thank you for coming by and commenting - I will return the favor very soon!

  5. I second Jaime's remark--I wish such a shot was out there somewhere! I first saw Gray as a Bond bad guy, but went on to see him appear in the BBC Sherlock Holmes series. What is it about Brit lit and TV that we find so appealing? Now there's a blog topic for you!

    1. That makes three of us then! As a long standing Anglophile - I don't know if I could put it into words - but there's definitely such an appeal!

  6. I'm not much of a Rocky Horror fan (I think we've discussed this before!) but I really liked Mr. Gray in Diamonds Are Forever. He has one of those faces that convince you that you've seen him in more films than you actually have!