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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Roddy McDowall Succumbs to Cancer at 70

LOS ANGELES -- Roddy McDowall, the British-born actor who starred as a child in "Lassie Come Home" and made a generation of new fans as an adult in "Planet of the Apes," died last week at his home of cancer, associates said.

The actor, director and producer was 70 years old and news that he had been terminally ill with cancer shocked Hollywood when it became public about two weeks before his death Saturday.

He was diagnosed in April but kept it a secret until he told Daily Variety columnist Army Archerd.

McDowall, the London-born son of a Scottish merchant seaman who was evacuated to the United States during World War II, started his film career at age 8 and appeared in 22 films before landing in Hollywood, where he starred with a young Elizabeth Taylor in 1943 in "Lassie Come Home." He and Taylor maintained a lifelong friendship and he appeared with her as a mad Roman emperor in "Cleopatra," the film that saw her romance blossom with co-star Richard Burton.

He also appeared in the 1941 film classic "How Green Was My Valley," in which he won rave reviews and even predictions that he would became a boy equivalent of Shirley Temple, something he was spared.