Peter Finch

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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This article is about the actor. For the poet see Peter Finch (poet), for the Grey's Anatomy character see Peter Finch (Grey's Anatomy)
Peter Finch
Birth name Frederick George Peter Ingle-Finch
Born September 28, 1916
Flag of England South Kensington, London, England
Died January 14, 1977, age 60
Flag of United States Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Spouse(s) Tamara Tchinarova (1943-1959)
Yolande Turner (1959-1965)
Eletha Finch (1973-1977)

Peter Finch (September 28, 1916 – January 14, 1977) was an English-born Australian actor. Born Frederick George Peter Ingle-Finch in London, he lived as a child in France and India, and finally in Australia, his parents' native country. There he grew up in Sydney.

After finishing school, he worked in several badly paid jobs until he tried acting. He began in 1935 playing theatre roles, and also working in radio. In 1938, he appeared in his first film, Dad and Dave Come to Town.

Thereafter he played again on stage, where he was noticed by Laurence Olivier and encouraged to return to London. During this time Finch had an affair with Olivier's wife, Vivien Leigh.

Despite his stage experience, Finch suffered from stage fright and turned to films. His first role in a British-made film was in Eureka Stockade (1949) (set in Australia).

Finch's Hollywood debut was in The Miniver Story in 1950, but his first major role was in 1956's A Town Like Alice.

In 1972, his role of the homosexual Jewish doctor in Sunday Bloody Sunday earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He did not win the award on that occasion.

Finch died from a heart attack on January 14, 1977 at the age of 60. At the time, he was doing a promotional tour for the 1976 film Network in which he made an over-the-top portrayal of the crazed television anchor man Howard Beale. He was posthumously nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role, and went on to win the award, which was accepted by his widow. Although James Dean, Spencer Tracy, and Massimo Troisi had also been posthumously nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, Peter Finch was the first (and only) actor ever to win the award posthumously. He was also the first Australian actor to win the Best Actor award. Finch also won five Awards of the British Film Academy.

Peter Finch was married three times. His first wife was Tamara Tchinarova and his second wife Yolande Turner. Both marriages ended in divorce. His third wife was Eletha Finch. He had four children from his three marriages.

He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.

Some references say his original name was William Mitchell. This is not correct. He was once arrested for drunkenness in Rome and, when asked for his name, he gave a fictitious one in order to protect his professional reputation. When his real identity was later revealed, some commentators made the incorrect assumption that William Mitchell must have been his legal name.

In 1980, noted author and film/theatre industry insider Elaine Dundy wrote his biography titled Finch, bloody Finch: A biography of Peter Finch.


Jon Finch, an actor with whom Peter Finch is often confused but who was unrelated to Peter, appeared in a minor role in the film Sunday Bloody Sunday.


  • Raid on Entebbe (1977) (TV movie)
  • Network (1976)
  • The Abdication (1974)
  • England Made Me (1973)
  • A Bequest to the Nation (1973)
  • Lost Horizon (1973)
  • Something to Hide (1972)
  • Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971)
  • The Red Tent (1969)
  • The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968)
  • Far from the Madding Crowd (1967)
  • 10:30 P.M. Summer (1966)
  • Judith (1966)
  • The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
  • First Men in the Moon (1964)
  • Girl with Green Eyes (1964)
  • The Pumpkin Eater (1964)
  • In the Cool of the Day (1963)
  • I Thank a Fool (1962)
  • No Love for Johnnie (1961)
  • The Sins of Rachel Cade (1961)
  • The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960)
  • Kidnapped (1960)
  • The Nun's Story (1959)
  • Operation Amsterdam (1959)
  • Windom's Way (1957)
  • Robbery Under Arms (1957)
  • The Shiralee (1957)
  • The Battle of the River Plate (1956)
  • A Town Like Alice (1956)
  • Josephine and Men (1955)
  • Make Me an Offer (1955)
  • Passage Home (1955)
  • Simon and Laura (1955)
  • The Dark Avenger (1955)
  • Father Brown (1954)
  • Elephant Walk (1954)
  • The Heart of the Matter (1953)
  • The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (1953)
  • The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)
  • The Miniver Story (1950)
  • The Wooden Horse (1950)
  • Train of Events (1949)
  • Eureka Stockade (1949)
  • A Son Is Born (1946)
  • The Rats of Tobruk (1944)
  • Red Sky at Morning (1944)
  • The Power and the Glory (1941)
  • Mr. Chedworth Steps Out (1939)
  • Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938)
Preceded by
Jack Nicholson
for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Academy Award for Best Actor
for Network
Succeeded by
Richard Dreyfuss
for The Goodbye Girl
  • Peter Finch's Gravesite
  • Peter Finch at the National Film and Sound Archive
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