Actor, director and giant of British film Sir Richard Attenborough dies at 90
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/25/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
A distinguished star of the British stages and the silver screen who later directed such sweeping film epics such as "Gandhi" in 1982, Sir Richard Attenborough has died at the age of 90. His death was confirmed by his son, Michael.
Among other things, Sir Richard Attenborough was also credited with inspiring Diana, Princess of Wales, whom he coached in public speaking at Prince Charles's urging, to start her campaign against land mines.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Attenborough was a familiar actor in Britain but was relatively unknown in the United States until the 1960s. One of his most memorable early roles was as sociopath Pinkie Brown in an adaptation of Graham Greene's "Brighton Rock" (1947).
It wasn't he appeared with his good friend Steve McQueen in the 1963 war film "The Great Escape," his first Hollywood feature, that he found a trans-Atlantic audience. Attenborough played a British officer masterminding an escape plan from a German prisoner-of-war camp.
Establishing him in Hollywood, that role and paved the way for a series of highly visible roles. Attenborough played the alcoholic navigator alongside James Stewart's pilot in "The Flight of the Phoenix" (1965), a survival story about a plane crash in the desert. He won the Golden Globe Awards for best supporting actor: first in "The Sand Pebbles" (1966), also starring McQueen and then in the whimsical "Doctor Doolittle" (1967), playing Albert Blossom, a circus owner.
Attenborough became known to a new generation of filmgoers as the wealthy head of a genetic engineering company whose cloned dinosaurs run amok in Steven Spielberg's box office hit "Jurassic Park."
Attenborough's later career found him more behind the camera than in front of it. "Gandhi" (1982), an epic but intimate biographical film on the life of the great Indian peacemaker, was his greatest triumph.
In was in that film with the relatively unknown Ben Kingsley in the title role that Attenborough dazzled audiences with the classic real-life tale of an Indian lawyer who took up his walking staff to lead his oppressed country's fight for independence from Britain.
Historians largely dismissed "Gandhi" as "myth-making." They argued that the British, exhausted by World War II, were eager to unload their Indian possessions. "Gandhi" was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won eight, including best picture, best director, best cinematography, best original screenplay and best actor for Kingsley.
Attenborough was also credited with inspiring Diana, Princess of Wales, whom he coached in public speaking at Prince Charles's urging, to start her campaign against land mines. In his maiden speech in the House of Lords, he criticized the government for neglecting the arts.
William Goldman, the screenwriter of "A Bridge Too Far," called Mr. Attenborough "by far the finest, most decent human being" he had ever met in the movie business.
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