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Tuesday 23 September 2014

From Brighton Rock to Jurassic Park - Richard Attenborough dies at 90

Ian Johnstone 
and Katie Grant

Published 25/08/2014 | 02:30

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Richard Attenborough, widely regarded as one of the greats of cinema, has died at the age of 90.

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His son told the BBC that the renowned actor and director had passed away at lunchtime yesterday.

The celebrated figure, who directed the Oscar-winning film Gandhi, had been being cared for full-time by staff at a nursing home where he lived with his wife Sheila Sim, whom he married in 1945. Earlier this year, his brother, the television naturalist Sir David Attenborough (86) said: "He is coming up to 90. He's just not very well."

In 2008, Attenborough suffered a stroke that resulted in a coma lasting several days. He had been in a wheelchair after a fall at his home.

He made his name in films such Brighton Rock in 1947 and The Great Escape in 1963 and won a new tranche of fans in the dinosaur blockbuster Jurassic Park in 1993.

He was born in Cambridge, the son of Mary Clegg, who was one of the founders of the Marriage Guidance Council, and Frederick Levi Attenborough, a don at Emmanuel College.

Educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester, he then went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), of which he later became president.

Richard Attenborough in Jurassic Park
File photo dated 09/04/08 of Richard Attenborough who has died aged 90, the BBC reported tonight. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday August 24, 2014. See PA story DEATH Attenborough. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
File photo dated 09/04/08 of Richard Attenborough who has died aged 90, the BBC reported tonight. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday August 24, 2014. See PA story DEATH Attenborough. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Richard Attenborough plays Pinkie in the stage version of Graham Greene's book 'Brighton Rock' in 1943. Photo: Getty

His first screen role was as a cowardly sailor in the 1942 film In Which We Serve. During the war, he also served in the Royal Air Force.

But his breakthrough role was as the psychopathic young gangster, Pinkie Brown, in the 1947 film adaptation of Graham Greene's novel Brighton Rock.

On the stage, Attenborough and his wife both appeared in the original production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, which became one of the world's longest-running theatre productions. In the 1960s, he appeared in films such as Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Guns at Batasi.

He won a string of awards for his acting but his greatest success was as a director. His 1982 film Gandhi won best picture and he was given the best director award.

After a breaking from acting, he returned to the screen in 1993 as dinosaur park developer John Hammond in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park.

Attenborough also worked as the chairman of Capital Radio, the president of BAFTA, president of the Gandhi Foundation, and president of the British National Film and Television School. He was a lifelong supporter of Chelsea Football Club, serving as a director of the club for 13 years from 1969. Since 1993, he had held the honorary position of life vice-president.

Tragedy struck the star and his family when his elder daughter, Jane, and her daughter, Lucy, were killed in the South Asian tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004.

David Cameron said in a tweet: "His acting in Brighton Rock was brilliant, his directing of Gandhi was stunning - Richard Attenborough was one of the greats of cinema."

The MP, Diane Abbott, said: "Very sad to hear Richard Attenborough has died - a man of the establishment who was never afraid to challenge that same establishment."

Irish Independent

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