The Hammer Graveyard

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The Dark Road to Success
the story of

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Michael Ripper

Already a veteran of some 30 films, before his first appearance for Hammer (Exclusive) in The Dark Road (1947) Michael Ripper went on to become one of Hammers favourite character actors, making thirty four films with the company, culminating with his performance as Arthur in That's Your Funeral (1971).

Born in Portsmouth, England on 13th January 1913 (five months before Peter Cushing), Michael was sixteen when he won a scholarship to a school for dramatic art. The theatre was in his blood (his father ran an amateur dramatics company) and six years later, having spent some time treading the boards he moved into films, getting his first credit in Twice Branded (1935), playing a young fellow in a theatre gallery. He later made countless films working as an actor, and assistant director, for a production company called George Smith Enterprises, who were based at Walton Studios.

During the war he worked at "The Gate" in Dublin playing roles such as Hamlet. He has been quoted as saying that "just before D-Day we got a letter saying that our country needed us. One of us wrote back asking if they really did need us, and they replied that they didn't!"

After the war, he stayed in Ireland to make a film, returning to England on it's completion. It was during this period that he first became involved with the St Trinian's films, appearing in four.

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In 1952 Michael had a throat operation which affected he speech - "I didn't really sound like a human being, so all I could do was horror". As a consequence, and having already appeared in four Hammer productions (The Dark Road - 1947, PC 49 and the Case of the Guardian Angel - 1949, A Case for PC 49 - 1951 and Blood Orange - 1953), Anthony Hinds gave him a starring role in A Man on the Beach 1955.

Of all the characters he played, Michael's favourite was Longbarrow - the long-suffering assistant to Andre Morell's Sir Basil Walden in "The Mummy's Shroud"

After Hammer, Michael went on to appear as Mr Shepherd in Southern Television's popular childrens series Worzel Gummidge and as Tom - Leonard's Chauffeur in the BBC TV hit sitcom Butterflies.

Michael died on June 28th 2000 - he will be sadly missed by all true Hammer fans.

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