Film maker Richard Attenborough dies at 90

Have your say

Actor and film director Richard Attenborough has died aged 90, the BBC reported last night.

He died at lunchtime yesterday, his son told the corporation.

Lord Attenborough enjoyed success as one of Britain’s leading actors, before becoming a successful director.

His career highlights included directing 1982 film Gandhi and appearing in 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park. Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to Lord Attenborough in a statement which read: “His acting in Brighton Rock was brilliant, his directing of Gandhi was stunning – Richard Attenborough was one of the greats of cinema.”

Lord Attenborough clinched eight Oscars for Gandhi, including best film and best director.

Born in Cambridge in 1923, he championed the British film business through its triumphs and trials for more than 60 years as actor, Oscar-winning director and prolific movie-maker.

As an actor he was respected enough for top directors Satyajit Ray and Steven Spielberg to lure him out of self-imposed retirement to appear respectively in The Chess Players and Jurassic Park.

Tragedy struck on Boxing Day 2004 when his elder daughter Jane Holland, and her daughter, Lucy, and her mother-in-law, also named Jane, were killed in the south-Asian tsunami.

He married the actress Sheila Sim when he was 21. His son Michael was born in 1949, followed by two daughters, Jane and Charlotte.

Michael is a theatre director and former artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in Islington, north London, and Charlotte is an actress.

Lord Attenborough struck up a friendship with Diana, Princess of Wales, after the Prince of Wales asked him to help her write speeches.

He was the older brother of TV wildlife presenter Sir David Attenborough.

He championed the British film business through its triumphs and trials for more than 50 years as actor, Oscar-winning director and prolific movie-maker.

He had a grand vision and a deep desire to educate, decrying injustice and extolling heroes such as Gandhi and Steve Biko, a South African victim of Apartheid.

His deep passion and unflagging energy as actor, director, producer, fund-raiser and chairman of numerous charities were genuine, and his good-nature was renowned in a notoriously tough world of clashing giant egos which he inhabited.

His public image belied a steel-like determination that took him from a powerful character actor in films such as Brighton Rock and 10 Rillington Place to director of conventional pieces such as Young Winston and A Bridge Too Far and ultimately Gandhi and Cry Freedom.

His acting career took off when he was spotted by Noel Coward who cast him in a small but decisive role in In Which We Serve.