Tributes pour in for Attenborough

Richard Attenborough was described as a

Richard Attenborough was described as a "titan of British cinema" after he died at the age of 90

First published in National News © by

Politicians, Hollywood stars and industry leaders are reflecting on the life and times of esteemed actor and Oscar-winning director Richard Attenborough, who dominated the British film business for more than half a century.

Lord Attenborough, who moved to a care home in 2008, died at lunchtime yesterday aged 90, his son Michael told the BBC.

Tributes are pouring in for the celebrated figure, said to be passionate about everything in life.

Bafta described its former president as a "titan of British cinema" who set an example of "industry, skill and compassion" that business would do well to live up to.

Born in Cambridge in 1923, he championed the British film industry through its triumphs and trials, enjoying success as one of Britain's leading actors before becoming a celebrated director and prolific movie-maker.

In a statement the film academy said that Lord Attenborough's "passionate support" for more than 50 years was "integral to who we are today", adding: "He will be sorely missed. A titan of British cinema, to say he embodied its finest qualities is to have it backwards. British film would do well to live up to the example of industry, skill and compassion set by Richard, Lord Attenborough."

His career highlights included appearing in 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park and clinching eight Oscars for 1982 film Gandhi, including best film and best director.

As an actor he was respected enough for top directors Satyajit Ray and Steven Spielberg to lure him out of self-imposed retirement to appear respectively in The Chess Players and Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park director Spielberg, who chose Lord Attenborough to be ''the perfect ringmaster to bring the dinosaurs back to life'' in the films, said he is just one person in a long line of ''Dickie's'' fans.

In tribute, Spielberg said: ''Dickie Attenborough was passionate about everything in his life - family, friends, country and career.

''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."

Star of Gandhi Sir Ben Kingsley said he had grown to love the director, who had worked tirelessly to bring the Indian leader's story to the big screen.

''He placed in me an absolute trust and in turn I placed an absolute trust in him and grew to love him,'' said Sir Ben.

''I along with millions of others whom he touched through his life and work will miss him dearly.''

Prime Minister David C ameron was among the first to pay tribute to Lord Attenborough.

"His acting in Brighton Rock was brilliant, his directing of Gandhi was stunning - Richard Attenborough was one of the greats of cinema," he said.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "The death of Richard Attenborough is a sad day for the film world and the Labour movement. He and his work will be remembered."

Former prime minister Tony Blair said: "Dickie was someone it was a privilege to know, someone I looked up to and respected.

"As a supporter of progressive causes from the anti-apartheid movement to the celebration of India's independence, he was way ahead of his time.

"Fabulously successful yet humble and utterly without arrogance of any kind; possessing enormous compassion and humanity; gifted, creative, fascinating and yet approachable and good fun."

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said: "Richard Attenborough will be remembered not only as a great British actor and one of Britain's most successful directors, but also as a great humanitarian whose progressive instincts led him to fight injustice wherever he saw it.

"He will be especially remembered for his decades of work standing up to the evil of apartheid, a campaign that made him a great friend of Nelson Mandela."

Actors including Mia Farrow, Sir Roger Moore and Samantha Bond were also quick to praise the supremely talented film legend, a star in front and behind the camera.

Actress Farrow tweeted: "Richard Attenborough was the kindest man I have ever had the privilege of working with. A Prince. RIP 'Pa' - and thank you".

Sir Roger added: "Greatly saddened to hear the great Richard Attenborough has left us. Such a wonderful and talented man."

Bond described him as a "great actor, great director, - funny, flirtatious, intelligent, a true gentleman."

Meanwhile, BFI chief executive Amanda Nevill said: "The world has lost a very, very special person.

"Dickie was multi-talented as an actor, producer and world-class film director, but he was also a warm, compassionate and empathetic man, and a friend to all those who met him."

Lord Attenborough's beloved Chelsea Football Club said it was "deeply saddened" to learn of the death of the actor and would "always be grateful" that the club was close to his heart.

A statement said: "His personality was woven into the tapestry of the club over seven decades. He was a consistent force for good at the club, even in dark times.

"Lord A was a thoroughly lovely and talented man who used his fame and influence for the good of the many causes close to his heart. We will always be grateful that our football club was one of them."

Lord Attenborough married the actress Sheila Sim when he was 21. His son Michael was born in 1949, followed by two daughters, Jane and Charlotte.

Tragedy struck on Boxing Day 2004 when his elder daughter Jane Holland, and her daughter, Lucy, and her mother-in-law, also named Jane, were killed in the south-Asian tsunami.

Michael is a theatre director and former artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in Islington, north London, and Charlotte is an actress.

Lord Attenborough struck up a friendship with Diana, Princess of Wales, after the Prince of Wales asked him to help her write speeches.

He was the older brother of TV wildlife presenter Sir David Attenborough.

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