Legendary British Actor and Academy Award-Winning Director Lord Richard Attenborough Has Died at Age 90 … RIP
Legendary British Actor and Academy Award-Winning Director Richard Attenborough has passed Away … RIP
Legendary British actor and Academy Award-winning director Richard Attenborough has died at age 90. The actor’s son, Michael Attenborough, told the BBC that his father died Sunday. Attenborough had been in poor health for some time. According to The Guardian, in 2013 Attenborough was moved into a care home in west London, having suffered a stroke five years earlier that confined him to a wheelchair. His family said last year that Attenborough never fully recovered from the stroke that left him in a coma for several days. Richard Attenborough won a Best Director Oscar for the 1982 best picture, “Gandhi,” however, may be better known to other for his many acting roles including Professor John Hammond in “Jurassic Park” and Kris Kringle in “Miracle on 34th Street”. One of my favorite Attenborough acting roles was in the 1963 movie,” The Great Escape” when he starred as German POW prisoner, RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett.
Richard Attenborough (1923–2014)
Lord Richard Attenborough, the respected British actor and Academy Award-winning director of “Gandhi,” the multiple-Oscar-winning best picture of 1982, has died. He was 90.
Attenborough died Sunday, his son Michael told the BBC in London. No cause was given, but he had been in poor health after a fall in 2008.
Once described by Variety as “one of the stoutest pillars of the British film industry,” Attenborough was an alumnus of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and a World War II veteran who became a familiar screen face in postwar British films.
One of his most notable early roles was Pinkie Brown, a psychopathic young gang leader, in the 1947 crime-thriller “Brighton Rock” — a starring role that Attenborough originated on the London stage four years earlier.
Brighton Rock (1947) -Film Noir, Attenbourough as Pinkie Brown
Over more than six decades he appeared in more than 70 films, including “Guns at Batasi,” “The Great Escape,” “Seance on a Wet Afternoon,” “The Flight of the Phoenix,” “The Sand Pebbles,” “Doctor Dolittle,” “10 Rillington Place,” “Brannigan,” “Jurassic Park,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and the 1994 remake of “Miracle on 34th Street,” in which he played Kris Kringle.
Affectionately known as Dickie, Attenborough made his directorial debut in 1969 with “Oh! What a Lovely War,” a musical satire of World War I.
Attenborough made his film debut in Noel Coward’s patriotic In Which We Serve (1942), playing a fearful young sailor. He became a household name five years later, when he played the vicious teenage gangster Pinkie Brown in Brighton Rock. By then he was married to the actress Sheila Sim; they both appeared in the first production of The Mousetrap on the West End stage in 1952.
From the time of their marriage, they were very much the fashionable young couple. “In the late 1940s,” Attenborough once told me, “there weren’t any pop stars and TV didn’t exist. We lived in Chelsea, and it came to a point where we couldn’t go shopping on the Kings Road. We brought crowds to a halt. I came to hate it.”
He continued acting, but going behind the camera intrigued him more – and kept the public at arm’s length. In the late 1950s he and Bryan Forbes formed the production company Beaver Films, and the two men made a slew of thoughtful, modestly budgeted British movies: The Angry Silence, Whistle Down the Wind, The L-Shaped Room, Séance on a Wet Afternoon. Producing, it appeared, was Attenborough’s forte.
The Great Escape – “Good Luck!”
He set out to produce more ambitious films: the patchy but entertaining Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) also marked his directing debut. Then came an account of Churchill’s early life, Young Winston (1972); it’s fair to say his achievement in getting it made outstripped its virtues.
At some point in the mid 1960s Attenborough resolved to make a film about Gandhi. He could hardly have foreseen what a gargantuan task it would turn out to be; it took 18 years for the film to go into production. Yet this epic was the high water mark of his career: eight Oscars (two for him), five Baftas and 11 Bafta nominations – not to mention the launch of Ben Kingsley’s enduring career.
Gandhi vindicated Attenborough’s preference for non-fictional subjects: “I like to make films about people who changed the lives of others and asserted human dignity,” he once told me. After Churchill and Gandhi, these would include anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko (Cry Freedom) and Chaplin. For more than a decade he nursed a desire to make a film about the American (though English-born) revolutionary Tom Paine, but he could never get it off the ground; the time of lengthy historical epics about great men had passed. This may have been partly due to the lukewarm reception for Chaplin (1992), another film with a lengthy gestation period.
Welcome to Jurassic Park
On a smaller scale, Attenborough was deservedly acclaimed for the poignant, well-acted Shadowlands (1993), starring Antony Hopkins (who he employed frequently) as CS Lewis and Debra Winger as his American wife Joy Gresham.
Miracle on 34th Street 1994 Trailer
He made a return to acting after a 15-year gap in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993) with an enjoyable performance as John Hammond, the entrepreneur with a dotty vision about a theme park inhabited by dinosaurs. And Attenborough was a natural casting choice as Kris Kringle in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street (1994). But from this point his career as a successful producer and director began to peter out.