A Tribute to the Late Greats of 2004

Goodbye

April 16, 1921 - March 28, 2004

I met Peter when he was 17. It was just before the outset of World War II, and he and my sister, Isolde, who would become his first wife, were students at the London Theatre Studio. I was fascinated by him. He was such a unique, funny young man. He had such charm and originality. We sensed that he was going to go places.

Peter and I hit it off all our lives. We had the most marvelous time in Death on the Nile, having ridiculous conversations in strange languages. He encouraged me as an actress by helping me to realize that performers didn't have to conform to the accepted style that was all the rage. Create your own style, he said — and he followed his own advice.

I think audiences will remember him mainly for being such a hilarious guest on talk shows. But of course, that was the least of the things he did; he was such an accomplished artist in every way. He wrote, he drew, he conducted operas — he never stopped! (Ustinov died of heart failure in Genolier, Switzerland.)

Originally posted Dec 27, 2004 Published in issue #799-800 Dec 31, 2004 Order article reprints