Cusack as the fireman captain in Fahrenheit 451, 1966
|Born||Cyril James Cusack
26 November 1910
Durban, Natal, South Africa
|Died||7 October 1993
London, England, UK
|Spouse(s)||Mary Margaret "Maureen" Kiely Cusack
(1945–1977; her death)
Mary Rose Cunningham
(1979–1993; his death)
|Children||6; including Sinéad
Cusack was born in Durban, Natal, South Africa. His mother, Alice Violet (née Cole), was an English Cockney actress and chorus girl, and his father, James Walter Cusack, was an Irish mounted policeman in Natal Province, South Africa. His parents separated when he was young and his mother took him to England, and then to Ireland. Cusack's mother and her partner, Breifne O'Rorke, joined the O'Brien and Ireland Players. Cyril made his first stage performance at the age of seven. Cusack was educated in Newbridge College, Newbridge, County Kildare and University College Dublin. He left without a degree and joined the Abbey Theatre in 1932. Between then and 1945, he performed in over 60 productions, particularly excelling in the plays of Seán O'Casey. In 1947, Cusack formed his own company and staged productions in Dublin, Paris and New York.
In 1963, Cusack joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in London and appeared there for several seasons. By this stage he had established a successful career in films, which had started at the age of eight. Also in 1963, Cusack won a Jacob's Award for his performance in the Telefís Éireann production of Triptych. He received honorary degrees in 1977 and 1980 from the NUI and the University of Dublin respectively.
Cusack's last stage performance was in Chekhov's Three Sisters, in which three of his daughters played the sisters. His four daughters, Sinéad (born 1948), Sorcha (born 1949), Niamh (born 1959) and Catherine (born 1968) are actresses. His sons, Paul Cusack and Pádraig Cusack (born 1962), work as a producer with Radio Telefís Éireann and as an associate producer at the National Theatre, London, respectively.
Cusack was twice married:
- The actress Mary Margaret "Maureen" Kiely (1920–18 December 1977), on 5 April 1945, with whom he had three daughters, Sinéad, Sorcha, and Niamh, and two sons, Paul and Padraig.
- Mary Rose Cunningham (1979–1993); one daughter (Catherine)
In his later life, Cusack became a campaigner for conservative causes in Ireland, notably in his opposition to abortion, where he became a frequent letter-writer to the main liberal Irish newspaper, The Irish Times. His conservative credentials came under scrutiny following his death and the revelation that he had not been faithful in his first marriage, with a long-term mistress, Mary Rose Cunningham, who bore him a daughter, Catherine. Cusack married Cunningham following his first wife's death.
Regarding his religious faith, Cusack commented "Religion promotes the divine discontent within oneself, so that one tries to make oneself a better person and draw oneself closer to God."
In October 1993, Cusack died at his home at age 82 in Burlington Lane, Chiswick, Greater London, from motor neurone disease (known as Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS in North America), one month before what would have been his 83rd birthday. His acting career had lasted an impressive 75 years.
- Mick Brian's son in Knocknagow (1918)
- Servants All (1938)
- Inspector Hornleigh Goes to It (1941)
- Once a Crook (1941)
- Pat in Odd Man Out (1947) with James Mason
- James Carter in The Blue Lagoon (1949)
- Cpl. Taylor in The Small Back Room (1949)
- Gerald Vane in "All Over the Town" (1949)
- Edward Marston in Gone to Earth (1950)
- Chauvelin in The Elusive Pimpernel (1950)
- Garcia in The Spanish Gardener (1956)
- Captain Sandy Rendel in Ill Met by Moonlight (1957)
- Doctor Kelly in The Man in the Road (1957)
- Sam Bishop in Miracle in Soho (1957)
- Inspector Dillon in The Rising of the Moon (1957)
- Jimmy Hannafin in A Terrible Beauty (1960)
- Dr. Grogan in Waltz of the Toreadors (1962)
- Hogan in I Was Happy Here (1965)
- Control in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)
- Fireman captain in Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
- Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
- Chief Insp. Hubbard in a TV version of Dial M for Murder (1967)
- Galileo Galilei in Galileo (1968)
- Frederick Katzmann in Sacco e Vanzetti (1971)
- Glaucus in Harold and Maude (1971) starring Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon
- An old man in All The Way, Boys (1973)
- The gunsmith Gozzi in The Day of the Jackal (1973)
- Sam in The Homecoming (1973)
- Father Manus in Catholics (1973)
- uncredited as Major O'Neill in Juggernaut (1974)
- Parkintosh in Run, Run, Joe! (1974)
- Michil in Poitín (1977)
- Fauchelevent in Les Miserables (1978)
- Detective Inspector Tom Moloney in Cry of the Innocent (1980)
- Cardinal Danaher in True Confessions (1981) starring Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall
- Myles Keenan in The Outcasts (1982)
- Mr. Dwyer in The Ballroom of Romance (1982)
- Mr. Charrington, shopkeeper and covert Thought Police agent, in the film version of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)
- The Bishop in Don Camilo, with Terrence Hill (1984)
- Frederick Dorrit in Little Dorrit (1988)
- Lord Castlewelland in My Left Foot (1989) starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker
- Doc Spencer in Danny the Champion of the World (1989) starring Jeremy Irons, Jimmy Nail and Robbie Coltrane
- The Ballad Seller in The Fool (1990)
- Danty Duff in Far and Away (1992) starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman
- Bob Assingham in "The Golden Bowl" (1972), Masterpiece Theatre (US)
- Mayor Barthelemy Piechut in Clochemerle (1972) (UK)
- Uncle Peter in Glenroe (1974) (Ireland)
- Father Giffley in Strumpet City (1977) (Ireland)
- Rabbi Yehuda in Jesus of Nazareth (1977), NBC (US)
- Aegeon in The Comedy of Errors, BBC & Time-Life Shakespeare Series (US/UK)
- Michael Fish in "Tales of the Unexpected", episode "The Hitch-Hiker" (1980)
- Mister Lorrimer in Death of an Expert Witness, based on the novel by P.D.James (1983), ITV (UK)
- Martin Pound in Privilege (1984), based on Frederick Forsyth stories, adapted by Michael Feeney Callan (1984), Mobile Showcase Network (US)
- Percy Hampton in Tales of the Unexpected, episode "Accidental Death" (1984)
- "Cyril Cusack, 82, the Irish Actor Often Seen as His Country's Best". New York Times. 8 October 1993.
- "Encyclopedia Brittanica: Cyril James Cusack actor". 28 March 2014.
- Cyril Cusack at the Internet Movie Database
- The Irish Times, "Presentation of television awards and citations," 4 December 1963.
- Undated source
- Garret FitzGerald, All in a Life (Gill and Macmillan, 1991)
- Deaths England and Wales 1984–2006