Edward Judd was a distinguished and perceptive British character actor, but his greatest success came early in his career when he was the leading man in a series of science fiction films, the most famous of which, The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), became a cult classic.
Directed by Val Guest, with a script by Wolf Mankowitz, the film features Judd as a hardened Fleet Street journalist who accidentally discovers that government nuclear tests have knocked the world off its axis and sent it careering towards the sun. Largely made on location in London, much of it was filmed in the offices of the old Daily Express building, with real-life Daily Express editor Arthur Christiansen playing himself together with Bernard Braden as a night editor.
The film was a worldwide success and catapulted Judd to international stardom. Three years later, he appeared in the less realistic First Men in the Moon, a piece of Disney-esque hokum based on an HG Wells’ story in which he joins Victorian inventor Lionek Jeffries in a trip to the moon in an ornate rocket complete with brocade curtains and carpets.
He went on to co-star with Peter Cushing in Terence Fisher’s Island of Terror (1966), a sci-fi horror cheapie featuring bone marrow sucking monsters which was notable for its macabre humour.
Edward Judd was born to British parents in Shanghai on October 4, 1932. As a child, he wanted to be an actor and when the family moved to Britain when he was 16 he took part in amateur shows. He went on to appear in rep and was cast in small roles in films before getting his big break with The Day the Earth Caught Fire.
After achieving stardom he became a character actor both on television and in films. Notable film credits included Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man! and the biopic The Incredible Sarah, and on television he won praise for playing Uncle Russell in the series Flambards. He also guest starred in series such as The Professionals, The New Avengers, Van Der Valk and Casualty.
He appeared on the West End stage from time to time, and in 1973 co-starred with Elaine Stritch in Tennessee Williams’ bleak drama Small Craft Warnings (Comedy Theatre).
During the eighties and nineties, he was much in demand as a voice-over artist for radio and TV commercials.
He died in Mitcham, Surrey on February 24, 2009. He is survived by his two daughters.
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