Richard Attenborough, a distinguished stage and film actor in Britain who reinvented himself to become the internationally admired director of the epic “Gandhi” and other films, died on Sunday. He was 90.
His death was confirmed by his son, Michael, according to the BBC.
Mahatma Gandhi travels across India ♫ in Gandhi (1982)
Until the early 1960s, Mr. Attenborough was a familiar actor in Britain but little known in the United States. In London he was the original detective in Agatha Christie’s play “The Mousetrap.” On the British screen, he made an early mark as the sociopath Pinkie Brown in an adaptation of Graham Greene’s “Brighton Rock” (1947).
But it was not until he appeared with his friend Steve McQueen and a sterling ensemble cast in the 1963 war film “The Great Escape,” his first Hollywood feature, that he found a trans-Atlantic audience. His role, as a British officer masterminding an escape plan from a German prisoner-of-war camp, was integral to one of the most revered and enjoyable of all World War II films.
Richard Attenborough (August 29, 1923-August 24, 2014)
That performance established him in Hollywood and paved the way for a series of highly visible roles. He was 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 back-to-back Golden Globe Awards for best supporting actor: first in “The Sand Pebbles” (1966), also starring McQueen, set during China’s civil war in the 1920s, and then in the whimsical “Doctor Dolittle” (1967), playing Albert Blossom, a circus owner, alongside Rex Harrison as the veterinarian who talks to animals. In “The Chess Players” (1977), by the renowned Indian director Satyajit Ray, he was a British general in 19th-century India.
Years later Mr. 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.”
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