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Overview for Richard Attenborough
Richard Attenborough

Richard Attenborough



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Also Known As: Baron Attenborough,Lord Attenborough,Lord Richard Attenborough,Richard Samuel Attenborough Died: August 24, 2014
Born: August 29, 1923 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Cambridge, England, GB Profession: Cast ... director actor producer


including his childhood, time spent in Africa as a war correspondent and his first election to Parliament. In the midst of a brief return to acting, which included turns in Otto Preminger's final two films, "Rosebud" (1975) and "The Human Factor" (1979), Attenborough directed "A Bridge Too Far" (1977), a sprawling World War II epic that detailed the disastrous Allied strike at Arnhem, the Netherlands in 1994, which led to a humiliating defeat. With another all-star cast to work with, including James Caan, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford and Sir Laurence Olivier, Attenborough made a dark, somber film that dispensed of jingoistic fervor in order to tell an engrossing cautionary tale.

In perhaps his greatest triumph, Attenborough brought to the screen a life-long dream project, "Gandhi" (1982), the most epic, but ultimately intimate historical biographies ever filmed. Starring Ben Kingsley as the non-violent revolutionary, "Gandhi" began with his life as a lawyer who sees his country in the grips of oppression and soon forsakes his life and possession in order to lead India's fight for independence through his policy of passive resistance, which ended in the leader's assassination. Both sweeping and personal, "Gandhi" was a landmark in cinematic history, earning Attenborough Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture. By the time he made "Gandhi," Attenborough had largely left acting behind. Meanwhile, he directed his next film, "A Chorus Line" (1985), which proved to be as much of a misfire as his previous effort had been a stunning achievement. Though faithful to the Broadway production, "A Chorus Line" suffered from an uneasy translation from stage musical to film. After narrating the documentary "Mother Theresa"(1986), he directed "Cry Freedom" (1987), a stirring look at the friendship between two men (Kevin Kline and Denzel Washington) struggling against Apartheid in South Africa during the 1970s.

After a five year hiatus from filmmaking, Attenborough returned with what was largely considered to be his biggest flop, "Chaplin" (1992), a long, sprawling biography about silent film star Charlie Chaplin (Robert Downey, Jr.). Despite a spot-on performance from Downey, Jr. and a potent mix of both drama and slapstick humor, "Chaplin" ultimately failed to catch on with audiences, resulting in an astoundingly poor box office performance. Attenborough soon returned to the director's chair, however, helming "Shadowlands" (1993), a lavish telling of the real-life love affair between C.S. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) and a brash American divorcee (Debra Winger). Back in front of the camera for the first time in awhile, Attenborough played an eccentric millionaire who builds an amusement park populated with dinosaurs cloned from the DNA of prehistoric fossils in "Jurassic Park" (1993). Also that year, he earned the rank of Baron Attenborough - he was knighted Sir Richard Attenborough in 1976 - which entitled him a seat in the House of Lords. With rejuvenated purpose, Attenborough tackled the role of Kriss Kringle for the contemporary remake of "Miracle on 34th Street" (1994). Attenborough then stepped back behind the camera for "In Love and War" (1996), the true story behind a young Ernest Hemingway (Chris O'Donnell) and his romance with a Red Cross nurse (Sandra Bullock) during World War I, which later proved to be the inspiration for A Farewell to Arms.

With his feet firmly replanted in the acting world, Attenborough played the English Ambassador in Kenneth Branagh's four-hour version of "Hamlet" (1996), then revived the eccentric millionaire John Hammond for "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997). In "Elizabeth" (1998), he played Sir William Cecil, the chief advisor of Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett) who warns the young queen to focus on domestic matters rather than personal relations. He next directed "Grey Owl" (1999), a true story about Archibald Belaney (Pierce Brosnan), an Englishman who emigrates to Canada and reinvents himself as a Native American who becomes a famous writer and conservationist. Once the new millennium came around, Attenborough had largely removed himself from both acting and directing, only to occasionally re-emerge.

In fact, after playing Magog in "Jim Henson's Jack And The Beanstalk: The Real Story" (2001), Attenborough retreated to an unannounced semi-retirement that allowed him to delve into his role as Chancellor of the University of Sussex, an honor he earned in 1998 and left following graduation in July 2008. On Dec. 26, 2004, tragedy struck the Attenborough clan - his daughter, Jane Holland, and his granddaughter, Lucy, were killed along with 225,000 others in the devastating tsunami that engulfed the landmasses around the Indian Ocean. Then after almost a decade removed from directing, he helmed "Closing the Ring" (2007), a romantic drama about a woman (Shirley MacLaine) who learns that her old boyfriend - who died in World War II - had tasked a Belfast local to give her a ring, which she receives 50 years after the fact. It proved to be Attenborough's swan song. Injuries sustained during a fall at his home in 2008 led him to use a wheelchair for mobility, and along with his wife, he spent his final years in a nursing home. Richard Attenborough died on August 24, 2014.

ape" (1963), one of the most revered and enjoyable World War II films ever made. Attenborough played a British officer, Roger "Big X" Bartlett, who masterminds a complicated plan to escape from a German POW camp built specifically to prevent a group of notorious Allied prisoners famous for engineering several unsuccessful breakouts. Though the film's star was undoubtedly action hero Steve McQueen, who played a rebellious American forever the scourge of his captors, Attenborough stood out among a giant cast that included James Garner, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. He achieved another critical height with "Séance On a Wet Afternoon" (1964), playing the weak-willed husband of a crooked medium (Kim Stanley) who participates in a scheme to kidnap a wealthy young girl, hold her for ransom and use his wife's powers to locate the abducted girl. Attenborough earned awards recognition beyond the critical acclaim and won a British Film Academy Award for Best Actor.

Attenborough continued to earn wide critical praise while receiving several awards for his performances. After playing the navigator in "The Flight of the Phoenix" (1965), he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in "The Sand Pebbles" (1966), playing the shipmate of a crew member (Steve McQueen) who makes enemies for his fair treatment of the Chinese during a patrol of the Yangtze River during the country's turbulent civil war in the 1920s. The following year, he earned another Golden Globe Award in the same category for his performance in "Doctor Dolittle" (1967), then joined David Hemmings and Alexandra Stewart as a trio of con artists planning a big scam in the slapstick comedy "Only When I Larf" (1968). In 1969, Attenborough made his first foray into directing with "Oh! What a Lovely War," a war-time musical that satirized England's involvement in World War I, as seen through the eyes and experiences of a working-class family. With an all-star cast that included Ian Holm, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, John Gielgud and Vanessa Redgrave, Attenborough directed a biting film that earned him another Golden Globe; this time for Best English Language Foreign Film.

Attenborough's venture into directing soon led to less frequent appearances in front of the camera, though he did manage to appear in four films the year following his filmmaking debut - "The Magic Christian" (1970), "A Severed Head" (1970), "Loot" (1970) and "10 Rillington Place" (1970). Getting back behind the camera, he helmed his second film, "Young Winston" (1972), an historical biopic that focused on the early life of Winston Churchill (Simon Ward),

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