Lord Richard Attenborough, best known for his role in the hit dinosaur film Jurassic Park, has died at the age of 90. The legendary actor died Sunday afternoon, after years of battling poor health. He had reportedly been living in a nursing home with his wife for some years prior to his death.
Attenborough’s son Michael broke the news to BBC shortly following his father’s passing. United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron made a statement concerning the actor’s death, expressing his sorrow at the news and referring to the actor as one of the greatest in cinematic history. He went on to praise Attenborough’s acting in the 1947 crime drama Brighton Rock, as well as his directing in the multiple Oscar-winning biographic history film Gandhi, released in 1982. The movie also won Attenborough an Academy Award for Best Director.
Born in Cambridge in 1923, the son of Mary and Frederick Levi Attenborough and brother of popular documentary narrator David, Attenborough began his acting career in 1942 with an uncredited role in the British patriotic war film In Which We Serve, in which he played a deserting sailor. Following this, he generally played the role of petty criminals and the like, of which he portrayed in such films as 1948’s London Belongs To Me and 1950’s Morning Departure. His breakthrough role was in the aforementioned film Brighton Rock, in which he played the leader of a small-time gang in Brighton, England. The film was a silver screen adaptation of the 1938 murder thriller novel of the same name, written by Graham Greene.
In 1963, Attenborough starred in the movie adaptation of the 1944 Paul Brickhill novel The Great Escape, which details the escape of allied prisoners of war from the German prison of war camp Stalag Luft III. The movie also starred Steve McQueen. Attenborough also played the lead role in the critically acclaimed historical crime film 10 Rillington Place, also based off the book of the same name. The plot centers around serial killer John Cristie, who successfully framed his neighbor Timothy Evans for the murder of his own wife and child, leading to Evans’ execution. Christie was eventually caught after the discovery of multiple bodies hidden in an alcove in his home’s kitchen. Attenborough was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor in the 1994 remake of the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street, starring Mara Wilson and Dylan McDermott. He also played a cameo in the 1996 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, starring fellow British actor Kenneth Branagh and critically acclaimed actress Julie Christie.
Attenborough directed multiple other movies than the award-winning film Gandhi. He was best known for his period pieces, which he had a particular passion for. These include the 1977 war film A Bridge Too Far, which centered around the failure of World War II’s Operation Market Garden, as well as the Winston Churchill biographic film Young Winston (1972). He developed a close relationship with award-winning actor Anthony Hopkins, who went on to star in five of Attenborough’s films.
It has been confirmed that legendary actor and producer Richard Attenborough has died at the age of 90. The plans for his memorial are currently unknown.
by Rebecca Grace