Film & Theater Personalities » Actor » RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH
|Full name||: Richard Attenborough|
|Alias||: Richard Attenborough|
|Address||: Cambridge, England|
|Animals||: The Pig|
|Father||: Frederick Levi Attenborough|
|Mother||: Mary Clegg|
|Siblings||: David Attenborough, John Attenborough|
|Wife||: Sheila Sim|
|Activists||: Actor , TV and Movie Producers|
The man who brought to life on screen the life and teachings of the great leader of the Indian nationalist movement, Mohandas Gandhi, in the movie ‘Gandhi’, Richard Attenborough was an actor, film director and producer. Attenborough as an actor had already made a mark for himself in Hollywood, but when he directed the film, ‘Gandhi’, he became a legend of sorts. He began his acting career as a theatre artist before moving on to work in films. A prolific actor, he worked tirelessly and was one of the most talented British actors ever to grace the silver screen. Born to a scholar and academician father, young Richard chose an unlikely profession for himself. But he definitely imbibed his parents’ dedication towards their respective professions, their idealism and sense of social responsibility. Starting out as an actor, he was initially stereotyped as someone who played cowards. But Attenborough was no coward in real life and lived the life of a highly principled man. After a successful stint as an actor he took to direction and made several successful movies like ‘Gandhi’ and ‘Cry Freedom’, both based on the lives of social activists.
He served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. There he flew with the Film Unit over Europe and filmed from the rear gunner’s position on several occasions.
He began his acting career on stage before moving on to Hollywood. His first film appearance was in 1942 though in an uncredited role.
His breakthrough role came in 1947 when he played Pinkie Brown in the film noir, ‘Brighton Rock’ based on Graham Greene’s novel. His role was much appreciated.
The 1950s were a very productive time for Attenborough who had by now become a popular actor. Over this decade he appeared in several comedies like ‘Private’s Progress’ (1956) and ‘I’m All Right Jack’ (1959).
He got the chance to appear in the ensemble cast of ‘The Great Escape’ in 1963 as Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett. The movie went on to become a major blockbuster.
In 1966, he starred along with Steve McQueen and Richard Crenna in the period war film, ‘The Sand Pebbles’ which was the story of a rebellious U.S. Navy Machinist’s Mate.
He made his directorial debut with ‘Oh! What a Lovely War!’ in 1969. The film was based on the stage musical of the same name. The film had an ensemble cast including John Mills, Laurence Olivier, and Jack Hawkins.
In 1977, he played a role in an Indian film directed by Satyajit Ray. He portrayed the character of General Outram in the film, ‘Shatranj Ke Khilari’ which was based on a short story by Munshi Premchand.
Over the 1980s he took acting roles less frequently and focused more on direction. He produced and directed ‘Gandhi’, a biographical film about Indian nationalist movement leader Mohandas Gandhi in 1982. The film was both a huge critical and commercial hit.
He directed the film, ‘Cry Freedom’ in 1987 which was a movie based on the activities of the black social reformer Steve Biko, set in the apartheid era of South Africa. Biko was a man Attenborough greatly respected.
He played the role of John Hammond in the 1993 science fiction ‘Jurassic Park’. The movie which became a super hit spawned a sequel, ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’ in 1997 in which he reprised the role.
He could not act or direct many films over the new millennium due to his advancing age and health problems. He directed his last movie, ‘Closing the Ring’ in 2007.
The 1982 movie ‘Gandhi’ is considered to be his masterpiece. Based on the life of the Indian nationalist, Mohandas Gandhi, this movie was very close to Attenborough’s heart. The film was very well received by the critics and won numerous awards and nominations.
He was the eldest son of Frederick Attenborough and Mary Clegg. His father was a scholar and a fellow of the Emmanuel College, Cambridge while his mother was a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council.
He studied at the Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester before going to Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) to study drama.
His family was principled and socially responsible. His parents adopted two German Jewish refugee orphan girls in 1939 and raised them in addition to their own three boys.
He married actress Sheila Sim in 1945. The couple was happily married and was blessed with three children. His daughter Jane perished in the Asian tsunami in 2004.
He was a dedicated philanthropist who served as the President of the Muscular Dystrophy campaign.
He believed that everyone irrespective of race, color, or ethnicity should get the right to education and was actively involved with the United World Colleges movement and the Waterford Kamhlaba United World College.
His health had been deteriorating over the last few years due to advancing age. He breathed his last on 24 August, 2014, shortly before his 91st birthday.