Mass of tributes pour in for ‘titan of British cinema’ Attenborough

Lord Attenborough.
Lord Attenborough.

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 on Sunday 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 Cameron 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.”