Was held at Stalag Luft I, near the Baltic Sea. While a POW during World War II, he organized a theatre company in order to pass the time. His productions included "The Petrified Forest", in which he played the Leslie Howard role opposite a 6' 1" Canadian who played the Bette Davis part.
Often joked to friends and family that, before Halloween (1978) came out, he was typecast as villains and psychopaths, never having been given the chance to play a good guy or hero. However, after his portrayal of the heroic, Van Helsing-like Dr. Sam Loomis in Halloween, he had the exact opposite problem in that no one wanted to see him play bad guys anymore, that the only parts offered to him were avengers and heroes.
He was initially a conscientous objector during World War II, but later changed his mind and joined the British Royal Air Force. His plane was shot down and was taken prisoner of war by the Nazis until his release in 1945.
He was a wireless operator in Lancaster bombers in 166 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
His father was a stationmaster.