Richard Attenborough, Oscar winning producer-director of 'Gandhi,' dies at age 90

By Daniel S Levine,

Lord Richard Attenborough, a British actor, producer and director whose legendary career spanned from David Lean’s first film as director to Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking Jurassic Park, has died at age 90. Attenborough won two Oscars for producing and directing the ambitious Gandhi in 1982.

Attenborough’s death was confirmed by his son, who broke the sad news to The BBC. Moments after that news broke, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called Attenborough “one of the greats of cinema.”

BBC arts editor Will Gompertz said that the icon of British film was in a nursing home recently. He had been in a wheelchair for the past six years. He died Sunday around lunchtime.

Attenborough made his film debut in 1942, earning a small role in David Lean and Noel Coward’s In Which We Serve. From that point forward, he was never far from the screen, either in front of the camera or behind it. He established himself as a major star with 1947’s Brighton Rock.

In the 1960s, he became a regular in action-packed Hollywood films. He starred alongside Steve McQueen in both The Great Escape and The Sand Pebbles.

However, for younger audiences, he will always be remembered for playing John Hammond, the mastermind behind the theme park in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Attenborough went on to also star in The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Behind the camera, Attenborough was just as much an artist. He produced and directed Gandhi, which won eight Oscars. Attenborough poured everything into making the film and needed to, since he cast a then-unknown Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi. He wound up directing Kingsley to an Oscar win.

Attenborough also directed Robert Downey Jr. to an Oscar nomination in Chaplin, his biopic on the master filmmaker. His final effort as director was 2007’s Closing the Ring with Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer.

As TheWrap points out, Attenborough’s two younger brothers also excelled in their fields. David Attenborough is a famous naturalist and John Attenborough has a career in the car industry. His son, Michael Attenborough, has also become a film director.

Attenborough was knighted in 1976 and became a life peer in 1993.

image courtesy of Walter McBride/INFphoto.com

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