The iconic role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror Picture Show brought actor Tim Curry a worldwide fame. Over the years, this renowned actor and singer treated his audience with remarkable films and songs, but in 2012, his life changed after he suffered a stroke.
Born in Grappenhall, England, on April 19, 1946, Curry has always showed great love for music. Everyone who knew him well was certain he would achieve great things as a musician, and they were right, but what he conquered the world with has been his acting talent.
Curry attended the Kingswood School boarding school in Bath, and was destined for a life in show business. Later on, he attended Birmingham University. He graduated in 1968 with a combined degree in drama and theatre studies.
While studying in Birmingham, Curry shared a house with actor, screenwriter, and director Patrick Barlow. At the time, he was a major solo star.
“I remember being amazed by his extraordinary singing voice – it was just completely perfect, just something he was born with – it came ready-made,” Barlow told The Guardian.
“We would go to university parties and end up having a drink and whatever, and he would break out into song, this marvellous bluesy voice.”
Following his graduation, Curry and a couple of his friends moved to London to try their luck as performers. Once there, Curry auditioned for the production of the cult classic Hair. He did get a part but he nearly missed on performing because he needed to have some previous professional experience and an Equity card, which meant he needed to be a member of the Actors’ Equity Association. When asked if he had these two things, he lied about it and said yes. When the producers learned he tried to trick them, they could easily give him the axe, but they were so captivated by his presence and talent that they decided to sponsor him with union membership instead.
Everyone believed he would pursue a career in music and he was offered contracts, but he decided he wanted to do something else.
“I was offered things, recording contracts, offered to join groups. But as I thought about it, I got rather snippy. No, no, no, I decided, I want to be an actor,” he told Los Angeles Magazine.
“I treated Hair like a drama school. You were always able to rewrite your part. You built up your physical presence. And because everyone was competing for attention, you learned quite quickly to make your presence felt.”
This decision led to gigs with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Glasgow Civic Repertory Company, and the Royal Court Theatre.
During this period, Curry was offered the role of the mad transvestite scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show musical. He was so great at it that he was offered the role when the musical got its Hollywood production.
“They asked me to audition for it, and I sang “Tutti Frutti,” which was appropriate, really. I started playing [Frank-N-Furter] as a German, then I saw the costume. It was quite diva,” he told Entertainment Weekly.
“I heard a woman on the bus one day saying, in this posh voice, ‘Are you looking at a new house when retiring or your place in the country?’ and I thought, ‘That’s it!’ Almost like the Queen. Well, it was a smash from the moment it opened. It was a tiny theater. There were only 60 seats. And then they brought it over to Los Angeles.”
Besides having a very fascinating career in film, he never entirely let go of his passion for music so he released three studio albums with A&M Records between 1978 and 1981. His hit Do The Rock reached No. 53 on the Billboard charts.
What followed were other cult roles in a number of films and series, including the role of infamous clown Pennywise in It (1990) and the professional pirate in Muppet Treasure Island.
Unfortunately, in 2012, Curry suffered a stroke. His family kept it a secret for some time, but the media learned of his health and it made headlines. As per reports, he had to undergo numerous physical and speech therapy.
“I’m doing well and I’m looking forward to it,” the 69-year-old actor told Los Angeles Magazine in 2015. “I’ve done a few benefits for the Actors Fund and I think it’s a marvelous organization. I hope not to have to use it.
“It’s not tough to maintain,” he added. “It is just part of my DNA.”
He spends his days doing what he loves, and that includes painting and gardening, among the rest. The garden on his property is exquisite.
“Since 2016 Tim has been appearing at Conventions to meet his fans and pose for photos and he continues to take part in private autograph signings each month,” his biography states.
“Tim has traveled extensively across the USA and Canada to make special guest appearances at large scale events such as Comic Con, MegaCon, GalaxyCon and Fan eXpo.”