One of British and the world’s greatest actors, Richard Attenborough died during this weekend at the age of 90. Richard passed away at lunchtime, at the care home where he had been staying for the last two years. He had also been in a wheelchair for the last six years, since falling down the stairs.
Dickie, as he was known in his close circles, was also jokingly known as the “original luvvie” in the art world, because he was easily moved to tears. He began his acting career in 1942, with a role as a deserting sailor in “In Which We Serve.” He starred in iconic movies such as “Brighton Rock,” “Miracle on 34th Street” and of course, “Jurassic Park.”
He was born Richard Samuel Attenborough in Cambridge on August 29, 1923. His parents were cultured and benevolent Fabians, so he developed his deep love for art and music. He was brought up in Leicester but educated at a local grammar school called Wyggeston.
His father was the principal of the local university college, and believed that not one minute of the day should be wasted. Richard inherited that trait and he was known for his endless amount of energy.
His mother was a part of the protest march in the 1930’s against Spain’s General Franco and she took in Basque refugees from the Spanish civil war. Thanks to her, he became a dedicated socialist, a staunch Labor supporter and a peer for the party.
Richard won eight Oscars in his rich career, two of them being for best film and best director (for the movie about Gandhi’s life.) During the making of the movie, he controlled about 400,000 extras at the re-creation of Gandhi’s funeral.
Also known as Lord Attenborough, Richard was married to English actress Sheila Sim, with whom he later on appeared in the movie adaptation of Agatha Christie’s thriller “The Mousetrap” as members of the original cast. They wed when he was 21. They had three children, Michael, Jane and Charlotte, but tragedy struck in 2004 when Jane and her daughter Lucy were killed in the South Asian tsunami.
Attenborough, a great man as he was, wanted to educate the world and bring justice to those who need it. His heroes were Gandhi and Steve Biko, a South African victim of the Apartheid.
He was knighted in 1976 and he was also known for his friendship with Diana, Princess of Wales.