Peter Cushing: The Cushing Confidential Fanzine
A Preview by Charles Prepolec
Copyright © Peter Cushing Association 2001
Peter Cushing is something of a pivot point for those interested in both Sherlock Holmes and Horror films. His career, like Basil Rathbone before him, crossed back and forth between genres with considerable frequency. So it should come as no surprise that a new fanzine due out in July, The Cushing Confidential, embraces both these, and other, elements of his career.
Peter Cushing, who passed away in 1994, remains a very popular actor today. His impeccable approach to characterization and his gentle off-screen behaviour has made him an object of adoration the world over. Whether it is from a love of his Hammer films or his inspired portrayal of Sherlock Holmes or any of his many other roles, there is no denying the respect and esteem with which he is held by both colleagues and viewers alike. Cushing’s association with Sherlock Holmes is a considerable one. Between film and television he appeared as Holmes some 18 times and also appeared as Conan Doyle on one occasion.  With that in mind, not unexpectedly, this new fanzine holds items of particular interest to the Sherlockian film fan and collector. Among the contents of this particular issue are an analysis of Cushing’s final Holmes film The Masks of Death with comments from actor James Head, an interview with Tony Earnshaw, author of the recently published  An Actor and a Rare One: Peter Cushing along with an independent review of the book. There are also other articles that look at Peter Cushing in The Avengers (with a written contribution from Patrick Macnee), Cushing films on DVD, collecting Cushing memorabilia, Forrest J. Ackerman’s recollection of the 1975 Famous Monsters Convention, reviews and fan artwork. So whether you are a Sherlockian or simply a Cushing aficionado, I suspect that The Cushing Confidential will prove to be entertaining.
Front Cover of
The Cushing Confidential
Copyright © Hammer Films Productions Ltd 1959
Publicity shot for
Hammer's Hound 1959
The Cushing Confidential is the first issue of a fanzine to stem from the latest incarnation of The Peter Cushing Association. The PCA (as it is affectionately known) was originally started by UK fan Brian Holland some years ago as a non-profit affiliation of Cushing fans that produced a respectable run of their fanzine, The Cushing Courier. Early in the year 2000 the PCA came under the capable stewardship of American collector and fan Chris Gullo. The force behind the PCA, Gullo is a 25-year-old History Teacher with a love of classic British horror films. In his spare time, when not scouring eBay for an elusive Cushing collectible, he can be found either researching or writing for the PCA website and magazine. Something he spends about an hour and a half of each day doing. His commitment to keeping green the memory of this charming actor is the driving force behind the PCA. After a year and a half of maintaining only an online presence, Gullo has decided it is time to revive a printed fanzine to compliment the website.

If you aren't familiar with fanzines, I should point out that these are pretty much non-professional efforts by fans to share their views and appreciation of a common subject. They are not generally slick or glossy mags. That being said, they can very often be great sources of information on rather specific subject matter that can’t be found in mainstream publications. They often feature some great fan art as well. This issue’s cover art is provided by up and coming fan artist Colin Bushby. Click
here to visit Colin’s site and check out some his other artwork.

The Cushing Confidential
is slated at 50 printed pages with 55 black and white pictures. It will be printed on bright white 60-pound high-grade paper and will be 11" by 17" sheets folded over to create a journal with staples in the spine. Priced at $7 USD it seems to be good value for money! Considering the effort and knowledge of the folks at the website, I have no doubt that The Cushing Confidential will be a fascinating and informative production. It is scheduled for twice yearly publication, so if you have something on Cushing you wish to share, visit the PCA site and drop Chris Gullo a line.

On hearing the news of the fanzine, (being a keen Cushing fan myself with an interest in how others relate to the actor), I took the opportunity to ask Chris Gullo a few questions regarding his interest in Peter Cushing, the PCA and of course Sherlock Holmes.
Copyright © BBC 1968
The BBC Holmes 1968
Copyright © Tyburn Films 1984
Between takes on
The Masks of Death
Copyright © Hammer Films Productions Ltd
How is it that you came to be such a keen Peter Cushing fan?
I remember first seeing
The Evil of Frankenstein when I was about seven years old during a Halloween filmfest on television. As I am 25 years old, I was not able to see Peter Cushing's films when they originally played (however I have seen a number of them in revival theatres). Peter just stood out in my mind after watching the film - I was mesmerized by the way he took control of any situation he was in (except the ending - but he came back in the next sequel!). I was always a fan of monster films since I was a kid and I began to notice this particular actor appeared in quite a lot of them. Eventually I read the credits on one of his films and figured out his name - then every week I would eagerly check the new TV guide lists to see if any film was starring Peter Cushing. I first started collecting Peter's films on video exactly a week before he died - THAT really stuck out in my mind. I had purchased Evil of Frankenstein and Doctor Who and the Daleks. I will always regret that I never got the chance to send him a letter and just say thank you for being my idol growing up.

What brought about your involvement with the PCA?
I had found out about the
Peter Cushing Association from browsing around the internet. I immediately e-mailed Brian Holland and told him that I would write something for the next issue of his magazine - The Cushing Courier. I was able to interview the former president of the American Peter Cushing Association, Debbie Del Vecchio, who had written a wonderful book on Peter Cushing - Peter Cushing: The Gentle Man of Horror and His 91 Films. I also wrote an article on Tyburn Films for Brian, and reviewed the 1999 Midnight Marquee Monster Bash at which Christopher Lee was the special guest. Then in the beginning of 2000, I received a form e-mail from Brian explaining that due to certain circumstances he was giving up the Peter Cushing Association and the magazine. I must have read that e-mail about ten times in disbelief. Then I came to a quick decision that the PCA would not die - I was going to continue it however I could. After e-mailing Brian about my offer to continue the PCA, I was delighted that he wholeheartedly agreed and threw his support behind me. I already had a website devoted to Peter Cushing called the Peter Cushing Museum. Basically I just added the PCA onto my site and e-mailed everyone that I could reach to explain that I was going to continue the PCA. This is why the website's address is called the museum. If this had all happened sooner then I would have created the website with the title of the Peter Cushing Association.

What do you see as the role of the site and how would you like to see it evolve?
Well, the site serves as a place for fans of Peter Cushing to visit and learn more about his films and the man himself. Anyone is welcome to submit articles, reviews, artwork, etc. to the site. Now that the
PCA fanzine has been started up again, the website will also serve to promote it. I would like the website to eventually include reviews of ALL of Peter Cushing's films. I am also working on creating a virtual art gallery of Peter Cushing's paintings - this may be complete in two months. The website will always serve as a tribute to my (and many other people's as well!) favorite actor.

I gather that Peter Cushing’s longtime secretary Joyce Broughton is involved with the PCA?
Joyce Broughton is the honorary president of the PCA. I was able to meet her when she visited the States in 1999 at the
Monster Rally in Virginia. We spoke for a while about Peter but this was before I took over the PCA. When I took over the PCA I sent a letter to Joyce asking for an interview and she willingly agreed. She was most pleased that the PCA would continue. This interview can be read on the website and in the first issue of the Cushing Confidential. Since Joyce is pretty busy these days, I basically send her updates of what the PCA is doing - I hope that she enjoys reading our first issue.

So why revive the printed fanzine?
Even when Brian ran the
PCA, I always looked forward to actually receiving a copy of the Cushing Courier. For some reason it just seems more personal to get a copy of a fanzine devoted to your favorite actor rather than just research them on the internet. The online format that I have on the website now was actually my prototype for issue #1. Turns out that I had problems raising money then (turned out to be an easy solution) and opted to feature the material as an online magazine so that at least fans could view the work. Another reason for the printed magazine is that not everyone is online. I am in touch with a couple of people who just send me letters, so for them this would take the place of the website. I want the magazine to become a true creation of Peter Cushing's fans - not just of my work. I did do a lot of work in issue #1but hopefully other fans will now jump aboard and start writing for the magazine.

How much interest do you have in the Sherlockian end of PC's career?
I have really come to enjoy Peter's portrayal of Holmes more and more in the past few years. I enjoy the Sherlock Holmes stories by themselves - a thinking man's hero. Peter's portrayal of Holmes in the Hammer production was exciting and entertaining. It is a real shame that Hammer scrapped plans for a Sherlock Holmes series with Cushing - it would have been fantastic. I was able to get a hold of four of Peter's
BBC Sherlock Holmes episodes - also well done. In his autobiography Peter said he was extremely nervous and didn't think the quality of the series was up to par but I would disagree - his performance was powerful. The Masks of Death is another one of my favorite Cushing films - probably because it is his last great role before he retired. Terrific cast in the film as well - Sir John Mills, Ray Milland, Anton Diffring, etc. A unique story as it was not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I think the story of Holmes coming out of retirement for one last case was perfect for Cushing at that point in his life. Just recently I purchased Peter Cushing's shirt from the production of The Masks of Death which is now the prize of my collection.

Do you get many questions or interest from Sherlock Holmes fans?

I do sometimes get asked about the BBC Sherlock Holmes series and where they can be purchased. Well, this is not an easy question to answer. I do welcome all questions on Peter including his Sherlock Holmes portrayals and promise to answer everyone as quickly as possible. In a future issue of the
Cushing Confidential I will feature a From the Vaults section in which I’ll have a 1968 interview with Peter done during his stint at the BBC as Sherlock Holmes.

My thanks to Chris Gullo for taking the time to answer my questions and provide information on the upcoming fanzine. Priced at $7 USD plus shipping, pre-orders for the premiere issue of
The Cushing Confidential are currently being accepted until the end of June, with the issue shipping in July. Full ordering details can be had by clicking here.
Hammer's No. 1 Star!
Copyright © Hammer Film Productions 1964
Evil of Frankenstein
Copyright © AARU Productions 1965
Dr, Who and the Daleks
Cushing's own watercolour character sketches
Copyright © Peter Cushing Association 1999
Cushing Courier No. 9
Oscric in Olivier's Hamlet
Copyright © Tyburn Films 1984
A simple-minded clergyman?
The Masks of Death 1984
Copyright © Chris Gullo 1999
Chris Gullo meeting Christopher Lee in 1999
Copyright © Hammer Film Productions
Click here to read an Overview of Peter Cushing's Appearances as Sherlock Holmes
Click here to visit The Peter Cushing Association and Museum
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