Attenborough’s family confirmed the death and are expected to make a full statement about the actor’s passing in the following days.
Lord Attenborough – not to be confused with his also famous younger brother David Attenborough – was born August 29, 1923 in Cambridge, England. He was knighted un 1976 and made a baron in 1983.
With a career spanning more than six decades, Lord Attenborough is remembered for his performances in films such as The Great Escape, the Jurassic Park film series, Elizabeth and Miracle on 34th Street.
But he is most well known for a film which he didn’t play in, but instead directed – Ghandi, for which he won eight Oscars, including Best Director, a record for a British film.
His great cinematic triumph was no easy feat taking him almost 20 years to make and almost bankrupting him in the process. Attenborough would later reflect on these times saying: “i would have given up anything and everything to have made that movie.”
Attenborough was adored by the late Princess of Wales. They met when she was a young, shy bride and Attenborough was asked by Diana’s husband to help her with her fear of public speaking and meeting and greeting crowds.
‘I found this incredibly shy young woman, who would not even meet my eye,’ he recalled in an interview in 2008.
‘I had to start by showing her how to talk to people – whole rooms of people. I taught her all the things I had learned as an actor: how you focus on one person, directing what you are saying at them. How to make eye contact. We did this for an hour every Wednesday,” he had said.
But despite the glamour and success in his professional life, Attenborough did come up against some hard times in his personal life.
The loss of his daughter Jean and granddaughter Lucy in the devastating tsunami in South-East Asia in 2004 found the actor floundering emotionally. Grief had consumed him and the tears were never very far from the surface he admitted to reporters during what he called ” the absolute worst period of my life.”
In the aftermath of the tragedy Attenborough and his wife took refuge in the solitude of their second home in Scotland.
The couple then wen to live in a care home for those in the theatrical profession with. it is there that in 2008 Attenborough suffered a stroke which left him confined to a wheelchair.
Old age and bereavement would not extinguish the actor’s optimism however. He played the lottery religiously every week and said that if he had won a few million he would make another film. This time about Thomas Paine, a revolutionary who wrote The Right of Man and one of Attenborough’s heroes.
‘That’s how I would like it to end,” he had mused in an interview.
“One more film, and one that matters. If I could end on schedule, on budget and say: “Cut, it’s a wrap” and – boom! – go. I would love that. By God, I would love that.”
So what would the great British film icon say about the making of a film about his life?
“When I fall off my twig, that will be that. Film of my life? Terrible idea. I can’t think of anything worse.”
Attenborough is survived by his wife sheila, son Michael, daughter Charlotte and six grandchildren.