Richard O’Brien, who was born in 1942, began his life in the world of entertainment in 1965, when, at the age of 23, he rode horses in British-made movies. He had no desire to become a full-time stuntman and, wisely took himself off to an evening drama school which claimed to adhere to the teaching principles of Stanislavski, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and anyone else that had decided to embrace the more ‘naturalistic’ approach to acting, commonly known as The Method. In 1967, Richard became an ASM and understudy in a musical touring version of The Barretts of Wimpole Street, retitled as Robert and Elizabeth. He worked backstage in many West End theatres, most notably the Cambridge Theatre at Seven Dials, where, among other duties, he shone a Lime Light upon John Hanson who at the age of 46, may well have been the oldest Student Prince that the world had ever laid eyes upon.
In 1969, Richard joined an ensemble group in a joyous production of Gulliver’s Travels at the Mermaid Theatre. This show was designed and directed by Sean Kenny. The choreographer was a young Japanese Canadian called David Toguri and the following year, Richard auditioned for him once again and joined the cast of the British touring production of the American, ‘hippie’ musical Hair. After Hair came Jesus Christ Superstar which was directed by Jim Sharman. The following year, 1973, Jim cast Richard in a Sam Shepard play at the Royal Court Theatre’s Theatre Upstairs. It was here that he met Richard Hartley, his music partner of 40 years.
The Rocky Horror Show opened in July of the same year and, slowly but surely became the biggest cult musical of all time. Other highlights of Richard’s career are, of course, The Crystal Maze, a game show that warmed the autumn nights for Channel 4; the Child Catcher in the first stage production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; performing for the Queen in the gardens of Buckingham Palace upon Her Majesty’s 80th birthday; and playing Fagin in a New Zealand production of Oliver.
In a career that has spanned nearly 50 years, Richard has acted with some of the biggest and best known names in the industry and, lately, he has won over a new and younger crowd of fans as the voice of Lawrence Fletcher, the father of Phineas and Ferb, in the Disney cartoon series of the same name. Although now in his early seventies, Richard still refuses to make eye contact with the grim reaper.