Tributes paid to actor and film director Richard Attenborough

Monday 25 August 2014 22.18
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Richard Attenborough was 'one of the greats of cinema'
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Richard Attenborough was 'one of the greats of cinema'

Tributes have been paid to the British actor and film director Richard Attenborough, who has died at the age of 90.

One of Britain's top actors, he also became an Oscar-winning director in a career spanning six decades.

Starring in films such as 'Brighton Rock', 'The Great Escape', and 'Jurassic Park', he later directed films including 'Oh What a Lovely War' and 'Gandhi', which won eight Oscars.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Attenborough was "one of the greats of cinema".

Attenborough: From budding actor to top director

A Labour peer, his party paid tribute to him as a passionate advocate for social justice and a vocal campaigner against apartheid.

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.

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

In tribute today, Steven 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.

"He was a dear friend and I am standing in an endless line of those who completely adored him."

Star of Attenborough's Oscar-winning epic 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 Kingsley.

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

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

Actress Mia Farrow tweeted about Attenborough:

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

Attenborough was a former president of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, having become involved in the charity after meeting young boys who were living with the condition.

Chief executive Robert Meadowcroft said he had been "the most extraordinary president a charity could ever wish to have".

He said: "He had the wonderful gift of empathy and offered unwavering support for the numerous families he met in the fight against muscle-wasting conditions.

"He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by the many people whose lives he touched, for a long time to come."

A Labour Party spokesman recognised the "enormous contribution" he made to the country, which included his passion for social justice.

He said: "Lord Attenborough made an enormous contribution to our country and to the film industry both as an actor and a director. His films will be loved for generations to come.

"He believed passionately in social justice and the Labour Party and was a vocal campaigner against apartheid.

"He will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

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."

Attenborough also acted as UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador, travelling on behalf of the charity to Thailand, Kenya, South Africa and Swaziland to oversee numerous humanitarian initiatives for children's rights. 

UNICEF'S current Ambassador Lord David Puttnam paid tribute to Attenborough in a statement.

"Today we are all the poorer for his passing but there are thousands upon thousands of children the world over whose lives have been enriched by his living and we celebrate and are grateful for Richard's life, his friendship and his support of UNICEF."

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