Britain mourns ‘one of cinema’s greats’ Richard Attenborough

2014-08-25 09:38

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London – Richard Attenborough was a lord, an Oscar-winning director for the much-lauded Gandhi and an unflagging pillar to British cinema.

But Attenborough, who died yesterday at 90, was best known as Dickie.

Baby-faced as a young actor and whitely bearded in his older age, Attenborough – warmly known as Dickie Darling – presided over six decades of British moviemaking as both an actor and film-maker with a genial warmth that endeared him to his fans and fellow actors.

“I have no great interest in being remembered as a great creative film-maker,” he told The New York Times when Gandhi was released in 1982. “I want to be remembered as a storyteller.”

The actor’s son, Michael, told the BBC that his father died yesterday. He had been in poor health for some time.

Prime Minister David Cameron called Attenborough “one of the greats of cinema”.

“His acting in Brighton Rock was brilliant, his directing of Gandhi was stunning,” Cameron said.

Ben Kingsley, who shot to stardom for his performance as Mahatma Gandhi, recalled Attenborough’s passionate 20-year struggle to bring Gandhi’s story to the big screen. The film won eight Oscars, including best picture (over ET), best director for Attenborough and best actor for Kingsley.

“He placed in me an absolute trust and in turn I placed an absolute trust in him and grew to love him,” said Kingsley.

“I along with millions of others whom he touched through his life and work will miss him dearly.”

Attenborough was a constant advocate for the British film industry as well as other humanitarian causes, including his extensive work as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund. He was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr Peace Prize in 1983.

He was knighted in 1976, and 17 years later received a life peerage, becoming Baron Attenborough of Richmond upon Thames.

Attenborough’s later years were marked by a personal tragedy when he lost his daughter Jane and granddaughter in the tsunami that hit Thailand the day after Christmas in 2004. The heart-broken Attenborough said he was never able to celebrate the Christmas holidays after that.

Attenborough had been in frail health since a fall at his house in 2008, and spent his last years in a nursing home with his wife.

He is survived by his wife, their son and a daughter.

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