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Cyril James Cusack (26 November 1910 – 7 October 1993) was an Irish actor, who appeared in more than 90 films.

Early life

Cusack was born in Durbanmarker, Natal, South Africa, the son of Alice Violet (née Cole), an actress, and James Walter Cusack, a sergeant in the Natal mounted police. His parents separated when he was young and his mother took him to Englandmarker, and then to Irelandmarker. 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 Kildaremarker and University College Dublinmarker. He left without a degree and joined the Abbey Theatremarker 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 Dublinmarker, Parismarker and New Yorkmarker.


In 1963, Cusack joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, Englandmarker and appeared there for several seasons. By this stage he had established a successful career in films. 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 Dublinmarker respectively.

Cusack's last stage performance was in Chekhov's Three Sisters, in which three of his daughters played the sisters. His four daughters, Niamh (born 1959), Sorcha (born 1949), Sinéad (born 1948) and Catherine (born 1968) are actresses. His sons, Paul Cusack and Pádraig Cusack, work as a producer with Radio Telefís Éireannmarker and as an associate producer at the National Theatre, London, respectively.

Personal life

Cusack was twice married:
  1. Maureen Kiely Cusack, an actress, died in 1977, with whom he had three daughters (Sinéad, Sorcha and Niamh) and two sons (Paul and Padraig).
  2. Mary Rose Cunningham (1979–1993); one daughter (Catherine)

Cusack in his later life became a campaigner for conservative causes in Ireland, notably in his opposition to abortion, where he became a frequent letter-writer into 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."

Cusack was a longtime friend of Irish attorney general, Chief Justice and President of Ireland Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, whom he got to know in University College Dublinmarker in the early 1930s.

In October 1993, Cusack died in Hounslowmarker, Greater Londonmarker, from motor neurone disease, one month before what would have been his 83rd birthday.





  3. The Irish Times, "Presentation of television awards and citations," December 4, 1963.
  4. source
  5. Garret FitzGerald, All in a Life (Gill and Macmillan, 1991)
  6. Deaths England and Wales 1984-2006

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