Don Sharp
Filming The Four Feathers (1977)
Born
Donald Herman Sharp

(1921-04-19)19 April 1921
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Died14 December 2011(2011-12-14) (aged 90)
Cornwall, England
Occupation(s)Producer, director, writer

Donald Herman "Don" Sharp (19 April 1921 – 14 December 2011) was an Australian-born British film director.

His best known films were made for Hammer Studios in the 1960s, and included The Kiss of the Vampire (1962) and Rasputin, the Mad Monk (1965). Also in 1965 he directed The Face of Fu Manchu, based on the character created by Sax Rohmer, here played by Christopher Lee. Sharp also directed the first sequel The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966). In the 1980s he was also responsible for several hugely popular miniseries adapted from the novels of Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Biography

Early Life

Sharp was born in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1921, according to official military records and his own claims, even though reference sources cite 1922 as his year of birth. He attended St Virgil's College and began appearing regularly in theatre productions at the Playhouse in Hobart such as You Can't Take It With You and Our Town.[1]

War Service

He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on 7 April 1941 and was transferred to Singapore. In addition to his military duties he appeared in radio and on stage but was invalided out before the city fell to the Japanese. He went on to act in Melbourne and Hobart and was discharged on 17 March 1944 at the rank of corporal.[2][3]

Early acting career

After the war Sharp worked as an actor on stage and radio throughout Australia and in Japan, primarily in Melbourne. He toured for J. C Williamsons Ltd in such plays as Kiss and Tell (1944–45), Arsenic and Old Lace (1945) and The Dancing Years. He played a small role in Smithy (1946).[4]

Move to England

Sharp moved to England in 1948 to further his career. He co-wrote a film, Ha'penny Breeze (1950), and helped raise the finance.[5][6]

He continued to act with small roles in such films as The Planter's Wife (1952), Appointment in London (1953), The Cruel Sea (1953) and You Know What Sailors Are (1954).

He also played the character Stephen "Mitch" Mitchell in the 1953 British science fiction radio series, Journey into Space and in the serial The Red Planet (1954–55). He began to turn increasingly to writing and directing.[1]

He wrote the screenplay to Background (1953) and wrote a novel, Conflict of Wings (1954), which he later adapted for the screen.[7] He also wrote Child's Play (1954), The Blue Peter (1955), and directed second unit.

Director

Sharp made his directorial debut with The Stolen Airliner (1955), which he also wrote.

He made some documentaries: As Old as the Windmill (1957), 'The Changing Life (1958), and Keeping the Peace (1959).

After directing second unit on Carve Her Name with Pride (1958), he wrote and directed The Golden Disc (1959) , the first British rock 'n' roll movie - released a year before the Cliff Richard vehicle Expresso Bongo (1959) and a full two years ahead of Beat Girl (1960). He wrote and directed The Adventures of Hal 5 (1959).

He directed Linda (1960) and The Professionals (1960) and episodes of the TV series Ghost Squad (1961–62) and The Human Jungle (1963).

He directed second unit on The Fast Lady (1962) then helmed featured Two Guys Abroad (1962) and It's All Happening (1963).

Hammer Films

Sharp received an offer from Hammer Films to direct the vampire movie The Kiss of the Vampire (1963). He followed it with another in the horror genre, Witchcraft (1964).

He contributed to the script of Legend of a Gunfighter (1964) and directed second unit on Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)

The Devil-Ship Pirates (1964) was a swashbuckler for Hammer starring Christopher Lee. After Curse of the Fly (1965) he reteamed with Lee for The Face of Fu Manchu (1965) and Rasputin, the Mad Monk (1966).

Our Man in Marrakesh (1966) was a spy spoof. It was followed by The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966) (again with Lee), an IRA thriller The Violent Enemy (1967) and Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon (1967).

He directed some episodes of The Avengers (1968) and The Champions (1969), before writing and directing Taste of Excitement (1969).

He was called in to direct sequences on Puppet on a Chain (1971) before writing and directing the horror movie Dark Places (1973). Psychomania (1973) was more horror.

Callan (1974) was a big screen adaptation of the TV series. It was followed by Sharp's second IRA thriller, Hennessy (1975). In 1975 Sharp worked on producer Harry Saltzman's abandoned pet project The Micronauts, a "shrunken man" epic to have starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick.[8]

Sharp directed the fourth version of The Four Feathers (1977), made for American TV but released theatrically in some markets. His work on it got him the job of remaking The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), with Robert Powell. He wrote and directed Bear Island (1979), one of the most expensive Canadian films ever made and a box office flop.

He returned to TV with episodes of Hammer House of Horror (1980) and QED (1982) (TV series). He had a ratings success with the mini series A Woman of Substance (1984). After What Waits Below (1985), he made primarily mini series: Tusitala (1986), Hold the Dream (1986), Tears in the Rain (1988), and Act of Will (1989).

Personal Life

Sharp died on 14 December 2011, after a short spell in hospital.[1] He was survived by his wife Mary Steele, two sons and a daughter. Another son, Massive Attack producer Jonny Dollar, predeceased him.

He was previously married to an Australian actress, Gwenda Wilson.[9]

Filmography

As actor

As writer only

2nd Unit director

As director

Unmade projects

Sharp was announced for the following projects which were not made:

Theatre credits

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Anthony Hayward, Don Sharp: Film director who made his mark with 'Kiss of the Vampire' from The Independent dated 29 December 2011, accessed 30 December 2011
  2. ^ "WW2 Nominal Roll". Ww2roll.gov.au. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e "THEATRICAL WORK ON SERVICE". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 30 January 1943. p. 5. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  4. ^ "FILM NOTES". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 29 June 1945. p. 11. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  5. ^ "AUSSIES' "HOME-MADE MASTERPIECE"". The Sunday Herald (Sydney). No. 99. New South Wales, Australia. 17 December 1950. p. 4 (Sunday Herald Features). Retrieved 28 January 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "Australians in brave film bid". The Australian Women's Weekly. Vol. 18, , no. 28. Australia, Australia. 16 December 1950. p. 49. Retrieved 28 January 2017 – via National Library of Australia.((cite news)): CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  7. ^ "Australian's Novel As Film Success". The Sydney Morning Herald. No. 36, 281. New South Wales, Australia. 3 April 1954. p. 3. Retrieved 28 January 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ Trott, Walt (8 September 1975). "Bonds, Bugs and Ballyhoo". European Stars And Stripes. p. 19.
  9. ^ a b ""KISS AND TELL"". Kalgoorlie Miner. WA: National Library of Australia. 17 November 1945. p. 2. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  10. ^ "FILM NOTES". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 29 June 1945. p. 11. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  11. ^ As Old as the Windmill at BFI
  12. ^ The Changing Life at BFI
  13. ^ Keeping the Peace at BFI
  14. ^ "Hunter Role for Sandra Dee" Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 13 January 1967: c12.
  15. ^ "MOVIE CALL SHEET: Burglar Study to Be Filmed" Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times 31 July 1972: f14.
  16. ^ "Don Sharp to direct 'Philby'." Times [London, England] 30 March 1977: 12. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 16 April 2014.
  17. ^ "GLYNDEBOURNE FOR AUSTRALIA?". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 13 January 1940. p. 6. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  18. ^ ""YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU"". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 29 April 1940. p. 10. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  19. ^ ""I KILLED THE COUNT" HAS GOOD PREMIERE". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 19 August 1940. p. 5. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  20. ^ "Realistic Acting in Repertory Play". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 24 August 1940. p. 5. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  21. ^ "MUSIC AND STAGE". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 5 October 1940. p. 5. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  22. ^ "NOEL COWARD PLAYS". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 14 October 1940. p. 5. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  23. ^ "CAST OF 35 IN "OUR TOWN"". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 4 March 1941. p. 5. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  24. ^ "SPARKLING REVUE". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 7 April 1941. p. 4. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  25. ^ "FAMILY COMEDY". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 5 May 1941. p. 4. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  26. ^ "ENTERTAINING PRODUCTION". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 23 June 1941. p. 6. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  27. ^ "SILVER LINING REVUE". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 28 July 1941. p. 4. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  28. ^ ""Interval"' Is Entertaining Play". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 8 February 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  29. ^ ""KHAKI KAPERS"". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 3 April 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  30. ^ "KHAKI KAPERS". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 9 April 1943. p. 5. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  31. ^ ""THE AMAZING DR CLITTERHOUSE"". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 26 December 1944. p. 5. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  32. ^ "Stage Stars Meet in Hospital". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 17 November 1945. p. 12 Edition: FIRST EDITION. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  33. ^ "SATIRICAL COMEDY". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 30 November 1945. p. 8. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  34. ^ ""Dancing Years" At His Majesty's on June 29". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 12 June 1946. p. 6. Retrieved 24 March 2013.