Richard Attenborough dies at 90

Actor and film director Richard Attenborough has died aged 90, the BBC reported tonight.

Actor and director Richard Attenborough has died aged 90.
Lord Richard Attenborough

He died at lunchtime today, his son told the corporation.

Lord Attenborough enjoyed success as one of Britain's leading actors, before becoming a successful director.

His career highlights included directing 1982 film Gandhi and appearing in 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park.

Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to Lord Attenborough in a statement which read: " His acting in Brighton Rock was brilliant, his directing of Gandhi was stunning - Richard Attenborough was one of the greats of cinema."

Lord Attenborough clinched eight Oscars for Gandhi, including best film and best director.

Born in Cambridge in 1923, he championed the British film business through its triumphs and trials for more than 60 years as actor, Oscar-winning director and prolific movie-maker.

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.

Tragedy struck on Boxing Day 2004 when his elder daughter Jane Holland, and her daughter, Lucy, and her mother-in-law, also named Jane, were killed in the south-Asian tsunami.

He married the actress Sheila Sim when he was 21. His son Michael was born in 1949, followed by two daughters, Jane and Charlotte.

Michael is a theatre director and former artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in Islington, north London, and Charlotte is an actress.

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

He was the older brother of TV wildlife presenter Sir David Attenborough.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Labour's leader in the House of Lords, said she was "proud" that the actor was a Labour peer.

"Very sad to learn of death of Richard Attenborough, a fine man in every way. Proud that he was a Labour peer," she said.

Former Cabinet minister Peter Hain also paid tribute to the "brilliant actor and film director" who he also hailed as an "anti-Apartheid, Labour and Chelsea Football Club stalwart".

He added on Twitter that it was "really sad news", referring to him as a "lovely man and friend".

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: "He led a long and successful life and always found time for the things in life he loved most, one of which was Chelsea FC.

"Renowned throughout the world for his work in cinema which honoured him with awards for acting, directing and producing, football - and Chelsea in particular - was never far from his thoughts.

"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.

"Lord A was a thoroughly lovely and talented man who used his fame and influence for the good of the many causes close to his heart. We will always be grateful that our football club was one of them.

"He will be greatly missed, and the thoughts of everyone at Chelsea FC are with his family and friends at this sad time."

A Labour Party spokesman 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."

Actors including Mia Farrow, Sir Roger Moore, Samantha Bond and Stephen Fry all paid tribute to the supremely-talented film legend, a star of both infront and behind the camera.

Actress Farrow tweeted: "Richard Attenborough was the kindest man I have ever had the privilege of working with. A Prince. RIP 'Pa' - and thank you"

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

Bond tweeted: "So saddened to hear we have lost Sir Richard Attenborough. Great actor, great director, - funny, flirtatious, intelligent, a true gentleman."

Fry wrote: "Sad to hear of Dickie Attenborough. Family secret - he was Richard and David Dave. True story. He did so so much in so many arenas."

Lord Sugar tweeted: "Very sad news about Lord Richard Attenborough who died today .A real movie legend . R.I.P."

Lord Attenborough was hailed as a "titan of British cinema" by BAFTA (the British Academy of Film and Television Arts) of whom he was a passionate supporter and a former president.

In a statement Bafta said: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of esteemed filmmaker and former BAFTA President, Lord Attenborough Kt, CBE, whose passionate support of BAFTA for more than 50 years was integral to who we are today. He will be sorely missed."

Lord Attenborough made his last film when he was in 83rd year, BAFTA recalled, saying it was "a reminder of the stamina and enduring love for the medium of film that are a hallmark of his long and successful career".

It added: " A passionate filmmaker, a man of principle and - in contradiction of sometimes lachrymose image - possessing the kind of dogged determination that sees films get made after decades of toil, and serve on committees for the greater good of an industry he loved.

"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."