We regret to inform you that Lord Richard Attenborough, whose career as an actor and then filmmaker spanned nearly seventy years, has passed away at 90, just five days short of his birthday on August 29th. Attenborough died earlier today in west London, according to his son. The two-time Oscar-winner Attenborough had continuously struggled with health problems since he suffered a stroke in 2008; last year, he moved into a nursing home, in order to be with his wife.
Born Richard Samuel Attenborough on August 29th, 1923 in Cambridge, England, Mr. Attenborough enlisted in the Royal Air Force during WWII; he ended up acting in such wartime propaganda films as Noël Coward’s In Which We Serve (1942) and John Boulting’s Journey Together (1943), where Attenborough appeared opposite Edward G. Robinson. He continue to act in several notable films over the years thereafter (see: Brighton Rock, The League of Gentlemen, etc., etc.), but it wasn’t until 1969 that Attenborough directed his first feature, in the shape of the WWI musical film Oh! What a Lovely War.
Attenborough continued to act until Otto Preminger’s drama/thriller The Human Factor in 1979, at which point he went on a temporary hiatus from appearing onscreen. Over the decades proceeding then, however, Attenborough earned much acclaim for his work on both the stage (which included a role in the London’s West End production of The Mousetrap in 1952) as well as for his movie roles. He picked up a BAFTA for his performances in Guns at Batasi and Seance on a Wet Afternoon in 1964 (a year after he famously appeared in The Great Escape), before he earned Golden Globes back-to-back for his work in The Sand Pebbles (1966) and Doctor Dolittle (1967).
During the 1970s, Attenborough continued to act, but also directed the films Young Winston, A Bridge Too Far and Magic. Then, in 1982, Attenborough helmed the biopicGandhi, which earned him Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture. The film about the non-violent leader of India’s fight for independence took home six additional Academy Awards, including one for Ben Kingsley’s lead performance. Kingsley issued the following statement, in response to Attenborough’s passing.
“Richard Attenborough trusted me with the crucial and central task of bringing to life a dream it took him twenty years to bring to fruition. When he gave me the part of Gandhi, it was with great grace and joy. He placed in me an absolute trust and in turn, I placed an absolute trust in him and grew to love him. I, along with millions of others whom he touched through his life and work, will miss him dearly.”
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