British PM leads tributes to UK film veteran Richard Attenborough

Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:17am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron led tributes on Monday for actor and director Richard Attenborough who died just days before his 91st birthday after a career in the film industry spanning over six decades.

Tributes poured in from the worlds of entertainment, sports and politics for Attenborough, who died on Sunday, praising his film work, his charm, and his commitment to do good through various humanitarian causes.

One of Attenborough's greatest achievements was overcoming 20 years of resistance from Hollywood studios to finally make a cinematic tribute to Mahatma Gandhi in 1982 with the $22 million epic "Gandhi" winning eight Academy Awards including best film and a best director Oscar for Attenborough.

He also won acting fame for a list of movies including playing a theme park owner in "Jurassic Park", Kris Kringle in the 1994 Christmas fantasy film "Miracle on 34th Street", and Big X in prison camp drama "The Great Escape".

Cameron said Attenborough's acting in the 1947 film "Brighton Rock", in which he played psychopathic teenager Pinkie Brown, was brilliant and his directing of "Gandhi" stunning.

"Richard Attenborough was one of the greats of cinema," Cameron wrote on Twitter.

Attenborough, the elder brother of naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough, was in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2008. He lived in a care home for people from the theatrical profession with his wife of 59 years, actress Sheila Sims.

The couple was devastated in 2004 when their daughter Jane, one of their three children, and granddaughter Lucy were killed in Thailand in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Asia.   Continued...

Sir Richard Attenborough attends [British television actor John Thaw's} memorial service at St Martin in the Fields church, London, September 4, 2002.  Reuters/Archive