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Richard Attenborough, director of 'Gandhi,' dies at 90

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MUMBAI: Oscar-winning British filmmaker Richard Attenborough, renowned for his critically-acclaimed biopic on Mahatma Gandhi, died on 24 August 2014 after his long illness. The death of the 90 year old was confirmed by his son, according to BBC.

Paying his tribute, British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "His acting in Brighton Rock was brilliant, his directing of Gandhi was stunning - Richard Attenborough was one of the greats of cinema."

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). His acting CV consisted movies like The Great Escape (1963), In Which We Serve (1942), Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) etc. To a later generation, he was well known as the scientist-entrepreneur who clones dinosaur DNA in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993).

He won back-to-back Golden Globe Awards for best supporting actor, in The Sand Pebbles (1966), also starring McQueen, set during China’s civil war in the 1920s, and Doctor Dolittle (1967), playing Albert Blossom, a circus owner, alongside Rex Harrison as the veterinarian who talks to animals.

But for most of Attenborough's later career, his acting was sporadic while he devoted much of his time to directing. Gandhi (1982), an epic but intimate biographical film, was his greatest triumph. Gandhi was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won eight, including best picture, best director, best cinematography, best original screenplay and best actor. The film had 430 speaking parts and used over 300,000 extras for Gandhi’s funeral. No one expected it to recoup its $22 million cost, but it wound up earning 20 times that amount.

Richard Samuel Attenborough was born in Cambridge on 29 August 1923, the eldest son of Frederick Attenborough, an Anglo-Saxon scholar who became the principal of University College, Leicester, and his wife, Mary, a writer who crusaded for women's rights and took in Basque and German refugees.

Leaving school at 16, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and eventually married a fellow student, Sheila Sim, who became a well-known actress herself before abandoning the theater to look after their three children and become a magistrate.

Attenborough leaves behind his wife, son Michael and daughter Charlotte. His eldest daughter Jane was killed alongside her mother-in-law Jane and her daughter Lucy in the 2004 tsunami.

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