Richard Attenborough, the Academy Award-winning director of “Gandhi,” has died at the age of 90, the actor’s son told BBC on Sunday. The cause of death was not immediately clear, but the British actor-director had reportedly been in poor health since he fell down a flight of stairs in 2008.
Attenborough had been living with his wife, actress Sheila Sim, at a home serving elderly theater professionals. Attenborough was born on Aug. 29, 1923, in Cambridge, England, and began his film career more than six decades ago, in 1947, and has appeared in films including “Brighton Rock,” “The Great Escape” and “Jurassic Park.” He reportedly struggled for 20 years to make “Gandhi,” which went on to win eight Oscars, including best picture and best director for Attenborough.
"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,” Ben Kingsley, who played the title role in "Gandhi," said, according to BBC. "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."
Attenborough had reportedly mortgaged his house and sold his cars to complete “Gandhi.”
“Every career decision I've made since then has been tempered by my love affair with this one project,” Attenborough told the New York Times in 1981, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I've given up 40 acting roles and a dozen directing assignments to pursue it.”
Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg reportedly said about Attenborough: “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 was a dear friend and I am standing in an endless line of those who completely adored him,” Spielberg reportedly said.
Attenborough, who had won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1941, made several films as a director including "Oh! What a Lovely War" in 1969, "Chaplin" in 1992 and "Shadowlands" in 1993.
Attenborough, who lost one daughter, Jane, and granddaughter in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand, is survived by his wife, son and a daughter.
Paying tribute to Attenborough, UK Prime Minister David Cameron wrote on his Twitter account: "His acting in "Brighton Rock" was brilliant, his directing of "Gandhi" was stunning - Richard Attenborough was one of the greats of cinema."
Here are some other tweets remembering Attenborough.
Richard Attenborough was the kindest man I have ever had the privilege of working with. A Prince. RIP 'Pa' - and thank you
— mia farrow (@MiaFarrow) August 24, 2014
Saddened to learn that Lord Richard Attenborough has passed away. A giant of British cinema pic.twitter.com/1yEqGtzDSl
— Sajid Javid MP (@sajidjavid) August 24, 2014
End of an era with the passing of Richard Attenborough, great actor/director, true gent w/a strong social conscience http://t.co/Q9fqxIez46
— Sarah Brown (@SarahBrownUK) August 24, 2014
A true legend : Richard Attenborough has passed away ! RIP Sir ....
— Boris Becker (@TheBorisBecker) August 24, 2014
So saddened to hear we have lost Sir Richard Attenborough. Great actor, great director, - funny, flirtatious, intelligent, a true gentleman
— Samantha Bond (@SamanthaBond) August 24, 2014
RIP Richard Attenborough. One of the true greats of the silver screen.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) August 24, 2014
— Dylan McDermott (@DylanMcDermott) August 24, 2014
Sir Richard Attenborough was the only Santa Claus I ever believed in. A wonderful man. Still in shock right now. May he rest in peace.
— Mara Wilson (@MaraWritesStuff) August 24, 2014
RIP Richard Attenborough. You'll be missed.
— Jamie Bell (@1jamiebell) August 24, 2014
Brighton Rock, League Of Gentleman, Great Escape, 10 Rillington Place, Magic, Jurassic Park & so, so much more. R.I.P. Lord Attenborough.
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) August 24, 2014
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Richard Attenborough. As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador he was a tireless advocate for children
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) August 25, 2014