in The Beyond
17 November 1941|
Christchurch, New Zealand
|Died||23 July 1997
London, England, UK
David Warbeck (born David Mitchell; 17 November 1941 – 23 July 1997) was a New Zealand actor best known for his film roles in Europe.
Career and move into Italian cinema
Having been awarded a scholarship to RADA, Warbeck arrived in Britain in 1965 and became a photographic model. He made his film debut as the title character in Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood (1969), a low-budget film adaptation of the adventures of Robin Hood.
Warbeck next landed a small but important role in Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dynamite (1971). This would be his first foray into Italian cinema, which he would make his home within a few years. His good looks also got him starring roles in horror films such as Trog (1970), Twins of Evil (1971) and Craze (1974), as well as the title role in the British sex comedy The Sex Thief (1973), which was directed by a young Martin Campbell.
He also starred in a long-running series of Milk Tray adverts that included the slogan, "And all because the lady loves ... Milk Tray".
Warbeck is perhaps best known for his violent horror film roles in the 1980s. The most noted of these is Lucio Fulci's The Beyond (1981), which propelled Warbeck to cult stardom among genre fans. Although he also worked with Fulci in The Black Cat (1981), Warbeck never made the transition to mainstream film following this success.
Warbeck's most common work during the 1980s was with director Antonio Margheriti. The exploitation film director produced a series of films which played on the success of mainstream releases such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Deer Hunter. Margheriti was best known for his action films, and some of his noted efforts featuring Warbeck were the Vietnam war film The Last Hunter (1980) and Hunters of the Golden Cobra (1982) which was shot back-to-back with Ark of the Sun God (1983).
Thanks to these appearances, Warbeck was being seriously considered as the next James Bond, but the role was taken by Roger Moore. Warbeck claimed that for many years he was paid an amount to be a substitute or back-up Bond on the conditions that he not tell anyone and that he be ready for filming at a moment's notice in the case of Moore leaving or threatening to leave the role. One day he read about Timothy Dalton being chosen and was told by the producers that he was now "too old for the role".
Later career and death
Apart from a brief role as an ill-fated agent in the Tom Selleck film Lassiter (1984), Warbeck's later career consisted of several low-budget films including Panic (1982), Formula for a Murder (1985), Ratman (1988), Mean Tricks (1992) directed by Umberto Lenzi, the Emily Booth comedy Pervirella (1997), and Jake West's British vampire film Razor Blade Smile (1998). He also concentrated on fan conventions in the UK and US, where he was popular due to his work with Fulci. In 1997, a few weeks before his death, Warbeck recorded an audio commentary for the laserdisc release of The Beyond with actress Catriona MacColl. Warbeck died of cancer in London, England on 23 July 1997.