Richard O'Brien

Born Richard Timothy Smith on March 25, 1942 in Cheltenham, England, Richard O'Brien emigrated to New Zealand aged 10 before returning to England in 1964, where he set his sights on becoming an actor. The English-New Zealand actor, writer, musician, and TV presenter took his maternal grandmother's name and kicked his acting career into gear in the early '70s, appearing in a production of Hair (1970), Jesus Christ Superstar (1972), and Sam Shepard's The Unseen Hand (1973). Having honed an interest in horror, B-movies, and sci-fi, he wrote the musical stage show The Rocky Horror Show in 1973 – which won the Grammy Award for Best Score in 1974 – and which was adapted into a smash-hit film, the enduring classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), with himself a co-writer. Directed by Jim Sharman, the movie stars Susan Sarandon and rockstar Meat Loaf, among others, and generated a timeless tune in "Time Warp." He presented the UK Channel 4's much-loved game show The Crystal Maze from 1990 to 1993 and that same year hosted the BRIT Awards. Richard O'Brien took on a string of acting roles in the years that followed, including Spice World in 1997, Dark City in 1998, and Dungeons and Dragons in 2000, and continued to perform in theater productions too until his retirement in 2011. He gained dual citizenship with New Zealand in 2011 and has come out as transgender, later expressing controversial views about trans women in an interview with the Guardian in 2020. He identifies as third gender, using he/him pronouns.

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