A great, if somewhat misunderstood, talent, Peter Ustinov, passed away yesterday. The often hilarious author-playwright-actor-director had a few ties with our Orson W. He was married to OW's Desdemona (imdb.com had even misprinted that Suzanne Cloutier was once married to OW, although in an interview she once said it was a choice between Peter and Orson), and his multi-talents and many hats often produced works of near-genius. He was also accused of falling short of his talent. Here's a brief snippet from the Guardian's obituary about Sir Peter, which includes a couple of his quotes re. Orson...
'He became, as he once said, "a dancing bear", and worked hard at it. Into his late 70s, he travelled arduously for television programmes and gave a spate of good interviews to publicise them. Succeeding the late Orson Welles as a foreign member of the AcadÃ©mie FranÃ§aise, he delivered a tribute to the film director which was full of barely disguised autobiography. He said, "The observer might think that the young man of 25, who had succeeded in leaving the rest of the race so far behind in the first 100 metres, was indeed capable of every victory he could ever wish for. Yet... "
He also said of Welles, "He could have hung up the chains of the dancing bear and given himself over to contemplation and quiet - something he enjoyed but for which he rarely had the peace of mind." His own life would have been sadder if the wellspring of laughter inside him had not run so deep.
But in addition to being a celebrity, he shuttled about on behalf of Unicef, the world children's agency, and was president of the little-known World Federalist Movement. Last year, he was honoured with a graduate college named after him at Durham University, where he was chancellor.'