- RIP August 25
Lord Richard Attenborough died Sunday, five days short of his 91st birthday, and you probably know more of his movies than you think. Attenborough was already pretty well known in Britain when he gained an American audience in1963 playing a British squadron leader in the great World War II adventure The Great Escape. Thirty years later he gained a new audience as a dinosaur-cloning executive in Jurassic Park.
Attenborough's biggest triumph, though, was probably Gandhi, the 1982 Oscar-winning biopic of Indian nonviolent revolutionary Mohandas K. Gandhi. It was a passion project that he financed himself, selling art and mortgaging his home when nobody in Hollywood would touch the project. But along with winning critical acclaim, making a star of Ben Kingsley, and introducing a new generation to Gandhi and the idea of passive resistance, Gandhi also made Attenborough a lot of money.
Some of Attenborough's other notable directing credits include Chaplin (1992), Cry Freedom (1987), Shadowlands (1993), and A Chorus Line (1985). He was famously genial on his movie sets, calling lead actors and bit players alike "darling" — he kept up that habit off the set, too, once calling Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher "darling."
Attenborough was born in 1923 in Cambridge, England. He leaves behind his wife, Sheila Sim, whom he married in 1945, a son and a daughter, and two brothers, including naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Another daughter, Jane, was killed in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, along with her daughter, Lucy.- -
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Here comes the Pentagon's newest space plane
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Extreme haunted houses: Inside Halloween's most terrifying new trend
- America's anti-feminist mega-corporations' toxic disregard for women must stop
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- How foreign aid screwed up Liberia's ability to fight Ebola
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- How did Rick Perry escape blame for the Texas Ebola outbreak?
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
Subscribe to the Week