Oscar-winning British film director Richard Attenborough has died at the age of 90, his son has said. Lord Attenborough was one of Britain's leading actors, before becoming a highly successful director.
In a career that spanned six decades, he appeared in films including “Brighton Rock”, World War Two thriller “The Great Escape” and later in dinosaur blockbuster “Jurassic Park”.
As a director he was perhaps best known for “Gandhi”, which won him two Oscars.
Sir Ben Kingsley, who played the title role in that film, said he would “miss him dearly”.
“Richard Attenborough trusted me with the crucial and central task of bringing to life a dream it took him 20 years to bring to fruition. When he gave me the part of Gandhi it was with great grace and joy. He placed in me an absolute trust and in turn I placed an absolute trust in him and grew to love him,” he said.
Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg said Lord Attenborough was passionate about everything in his life.
“He made a gift to the world with his emotional epic 'Gandhi' and he was the perfect ringmaster to bring the dinosaurs back to life as John Hammond in Jurassic Park,” he said. “He was a dear friend and I am standing in an endless line of those who completely adored him.”
Lord Attenborough had been in a nursing home with his wife for a number of years. He had also been in a wheelchair since falling down stairs six years ago.
Paying tribute, 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.”
Lord Attenborough was also a life president of Chelsea Football Club, which said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of his death.
Along with his naturalist brother David, Lord Attenborough was one of Britain's best-known screen celebrities. He was hailed for his 1947 chilling portrayal of teenage hoodlum and murderer Pinkie in “Brighton Rock”. On stage he was a member of the original cast of Agatha Christie's long-running whodunnit, “The Mousetrap”.
Born in Cambridge in 1923, he started acting at the age of just 12, making his professional stage debut aged 18. He was appointed a CBE in 1967 and knighted nine years later in 1976, before being made a life peer in 1993.
He married actress Sheila Sim in 1945. His son Michael was born in 1949, followed by two daughters, Jane and Charlotte. Michael is a theatre director and former artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in Islington, north London, and Charlotte is an actress. His family faced tragedy in 2004 when his elder daughter Jane Holland, her daughter, Lucy, and her mother-in-law, also named Jane, were killed in the south Asian tsunami on Boxing Day.