Skip to main content

Lord Richard "Dickie" Attenborough, best known as a film director and actor, has died five days short of his 91st birthday. He had lived in a nursing home, along with his wife who he married in 1945, after a fall and stroke in 2008. Along with his younger brother David, he is perhaps most responsible for the healthy state of the British moving image (film and television) industries today.

Richard began his acting career studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). He was a lifelong supporter and fund raiser, becoming its "beloved President". One their front page they pay this tribute:

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Lord Attenborough, RADA President.

He started his time with RADA as a student, where he famously helped to clear the rubble when the building was bombed in the war. Since then, he has worked tirelessly to support the Academy in his role as Chairman and ultimately, President.

His death is not only a great loss for RADA, but also the world at large.

His film roles started in Noel Coward's war film loosely based on the sinking of Lord Mountbatten's ship, "In Which We Serve" in 1942. He came to prominence five years later playing the psychopathic gangster Pinkie in "Brighton Rock", a role echoed in his portrayal of the real life multiple murderer John Christie in "10 Rillington Place".  At the other end of the spectrum, he starred in the remake of "Miracle on 34th Street" and of course "Jurassic Park".

By the 1970s, he had decided to concentrate on directing starting with the anti-war film "Oh What a Lovely War". The film had originally been a radio play that was translated into a stage musical by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop. His speciality was to show the great sweeps of history and his greatest film is considered to be "Gandhi" which was 20 years in the making. He had been given a biography by a member of the Indian High Commission and asked if he would make a film of it. Other films like the story of Steve Biko in South Africa "Cry Freedom" also reflected his left wing politics. He was a keen supporter of the Labour Party and campaigned for them. His peerage was partly in recognition of this.

As well as RADA, he fund raised for a number of charities, including one for multiple sclerosis. He was also a lifelong supporter of Chelsea soccer club.

He was a member of the board of Channel 4, the third UK analog network. It has become a major film maker with its own movie making arm, Film 4 Productions. He helped maintain the independence of Channel 4 when the government started plans to sell it. He was also influential in persuading John Major to include film production as one of the beneficiaries of National Lottery funding in the UK.

His son Michael is a theater director and his younger daughter Charlotte is an actress. His older daughter, her daughter and mother in law were killed in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. (His younger brother David is primarily a naturalist who make nature films for the BBC and became for a brief period at its start the head of BBC Two. He continues to make documentaries including now for BSkyB.)

This is all too brief for a long life well lived with accomplishments that would fill four lifetimes. He is said to have been collaborating on new projects up to the end. Now he can rest.

Originally posted to Lib Dem FoP on Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 05:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site