Richard Attenborough Dies at 90

 AP Images

Sir Richard Attenborough, whose 20-year crusade to bring the life of Mahatma Gandhi to the screen culminated in eight Academy Awards for Gandhi, including a best director Oscar for him, has died, his son tells BBC News.

A producer, director and actor, Attenborough won a BAFTA Award for his acting in 1964 (he was double nominated for Séance on a Wet Afternoon and Guns at Batasi). He won two Golden Globes for his acting in The Sand Pebbles (1966) and Dr. Dolittle (1967), and one for direction, Oh! What A Lovely War (1969).

"Richard Attenborough was one of the greats of cinema," said British Prime Minister David Cameron in a statement on Twitter.

An actor who appeared in more than 70 films, Attenborough also won the top acting award at the Berlin Festival for The Angry Silence (1960). Under his direction, a succession of actors scored Oscar nominations, including Denzel Washington in Cry Freedom (1987), Robert Downey Jr. in Chaplin (1992) and Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands (1993).

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Richard Samuel Attenborough was born Aug. 29, 1923, in Cambridge, England. He was knighted in 1976 and became a life peer in 1993. During a multifaceted career, Attenborough also served as chairman of RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Attenborough co-starred with Steve McQueen in The Great Escape (1963), playing the nervy mastermind behind the escape. In 1966, he appeared with James Stewart in The Flight of the Phoenix. He followed up with two Golden Globe-winning performances in The Sand Pebbles and Dr. Dolittle (1967). Back in England, he co-starred with Shirley MacLaine in The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (1968).

He made his breakthrough in direction in 1968 with Oh! What a Lovely War, a parody of patriotism, which was known at the time for having Beatle John Lennon in its cast. The film went on to win 16 international awards, including another Golden Globe.

Following his lifetime triumph with Gandhi (1982), he directed a number of top films, including the film adaptation of A Chorus Line (1985), the anti-apartheid Cry Freedom (1987) and the biopic Chaplin.

Following Chaplin, he made a return to the screen at the behest of longtime admirer Steven Spielberg, starring in Jurassic Park (1993) as John Hammond. He reprised the role again in Jurassic Park: The Lost World (1997) and, in a similar vein, he is featured on Universal Studios' Jurassic Park ride, assuring riders in the short film that precedes the tour that the ride is perfectly safe.

"Dickie Attenborough was passionate about everything in his life — family, friends, country and career," Spielberg said in a statement. "He made a gift to the world with his emotional epic Ghandi, and he was the perfect ringmaster to bring the dinosaurs back to life as John Hammond in Jurassic Park. He was a dear friend, and I am standing in an endless line of those who completely adored him."

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