Deadline Hollywood noted on Sunday the passing of Lord Richard Attenborough, the great British actor and director whose career spanned many decades. He was 90 years old and is best known for directing the sweeping epic film “Gandhi” which starred Ben Kinsley about the nationalist leader whose non-violent tactics brought an end to British rule in India soon after World War II. But most modern audiences remember him as John Hammond, the affable creator of “Jurassic Park,” which brought dinosaurs to life.
Attenborough’s directorial efforts tended toward the historical drama. In “A Bridge too Far” he depicted Operation Market Garden, the doomed effort to seize a number of bridges in Holland and open the road to Germany in World War II. In “Shadowlands” he directed Anthony Hopkins in an intimate portrait of the great writer, teacher, and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. In “Young Winston,” he told the story of the early life of Winston Churchill and, incidentally, a different view of the British Empire than was later depicted in “Gandhi.”
Besides the first two “Jurassic Park” films, Attenborough appeared in films ranging from “I’m All Right Jack,” a satire about British labor unions to “Elizabeth” the story of the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I. In the latter film he played the Queen’s chief minister, William Cecil, a figure who was actually much younger than the actor who portrayed him. Other films he appeared in included “Dr. Doolittle,” “The Sand Pebbles,” and a remake of “Miracle on 34th Street” and Kris Kringle, of course.
If should be noted that Attenborough, as so many actors of his generation, was obliged to interrupt his career to serve in World War II in which he served with distinction in the Royal Air Force. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including a best director and best picture for “Gandhi/” He was also married to the same woman for nearly 60 years, his wife Sheila, whom he leaves behind along with children, friends, and uncounted film fans.