Richard Attenborough life and biography

Richard Attenborough picture, image, poster

Richard Attenborough biography

Date of birth : 1923-08-29
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Cambridge, England
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-11-10
Credited as : Actor, film director and director, entrepreneur

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Richard Samuel Attenborough, popularly known as Lord Attenborough, is one of the most renowned English actors, directors, producers, and entrepreneurs. He entered the film industry, as an actor, in 1942 and made his debut as a producer in 1959 and as a director in 1969. He has been honored with two Academy Awards, four BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globes, till date. Apart from being made a Commander of the Order, he has also been knighted by the British Empire. Throughout his life, he has been married to English actress Sheila Sim and presently resides in Richmond Green, in Richmond, England.

Childhood & Early Life

Richard Attenborough was born on 29th August 1923, in the Cambridge city of England. He is the son of Mary (née Clegg), a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council, and Frederick Levi Attenborough, a scholar and academic administrator who was a don at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Attenborough completed his education from Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). He also served in the Royal Air Force, during World War II.

Acting Career
Richard Attenborough made his debut in the film industry in 1942, with the movie 'In Which We Serve'. He played the role of a deserting sailor in the movie. For many years following 'In Which We Serve', he continued to be type-cast in similar kind of roles, especially in movies like 'London Belongs to Me' (1948) and 'Morning Departure' (1950). Somewhere in-between, he played the role of a psychopathic young gangster, in the movie 'Brighton Rock', which helped him garner much appreciation.

The decade of 1950s saw Attenborough being a part of numerous comedies for John and Roy Boulting, like 'Private's Progress' (1956) and 'I'm All Right Jack' (1959), many of which were a hit at the box office. During this time, he starred in the London West End production of Agatha Christie's 'The Mousetrap'. One of the world's longest running stage productions, 'The Mousetrap' had Attenborough as well as his wife in the original cast members. The production is being run successfully in the present times as well.

In the 1960s, Attenborough bagged a role in the ensemble cast of 'The Great Escape' (1963), his first appearance in a major Hollywood film blockbuster. Thereafter, he was seen in films like 'Seance on a Wet Afternoon' (1964) and 'Guns at Batasi' (1964). For the latter, he also won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor. The year 1967 and 1968 saw Attenborough winning back-to-back Golden Globe Awards, in the category of Best Supporting Actor. The first award was for 'The Sand Pebbles', while 'Doctor Dolittle' got him the second one.

In 1977, Attenborough played the ruthless General Outram in Satyajit Ray's period piece 'The Chess Players' (Shatranj Ke Khiladi). Two years later, in 1979, he was seen in Otto Preminger's version of 'The Human Factor'. Thereafter, he completely vanished from the silver screen, making a comeback in 1993, in Steven Spielberg's 'Jurassic Park'. The following year, he was seen in the remake of 'Miracle on 34th Street', as Kris Kringle. Since then, he has only been making occasional appearances, that too in supporting roles.

Producer & Director
Richard Attenborough entered the world of production in the late 1950s, when he formed a production company, 'Beaver Films', in collaboration with Bryan Forbes. 'The League of Gentlemen' (1959), 'The Angry Silence' (1960) and 'Whistle Down the Wind' (1961) were amongst the earlier films that were produced by the company. Attenborough made his directorial debut in 1969, with 'Oh! What a Lovely War'. He directed three films in the 1970s, two being epic period films: 'Young Winston' (1972) and 'A Bridge Too Far' (1977).

In 1982, Attenborough directed the historical epic, 'Gandhi', for which he won an Academy Award. He also produced the film, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 1985, he directed the screen version of the musical 'A Chorus Line', followed by 'Cry Freedom' (1987). For both the films, he received Golden Globe nomination, for Best Director. His most recent films as both, director and producer include, Chaplin (1992) and Shadowlands (1993). As for his recent directorial venture, 'Closing the Ring' (2007) is the name to quote.

Corporate & Other Appointments
Richard Attenborough presently heads a committee awarding the eponymous Attenborough Prize. It is a £2000 annual arts prize, which seeks to acknowledge the creativity of emerging artists. It is awarded to the best contemporary visual artist, selected from amongst a shortlist of six artists presented to Attenborough. The last Attenborough Prize was given to Choterina Freer. The other corporate and non-corporate positions held by Attenborough, in the past as well as present, have been listed below.

* Chairman of the Board of Governors of the British Film Institute (1982-1992)
* Chairman of Capital Radio
* Director of Chelsea Football Club (1969 - 1982)
* Life President of Chelsea Football Club (1993 - Present)
* Deputy Chairman of Channel Four Television (1982 - 1987)
* Chairman of Channel Four (1987 - 1992)
* Chairman of Goldcrest Films
* President of RADA
* President of BAFTA
* President of the Gandhi Foundation
* President of the British National Film and Television School
* Chancellor of the University of Sussex (1998 - 2008)
* Vice Patron of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund
* Head of the consortium "Dragon International"

Richard Attenborough is the patron of the UWC movement (United World Colleges). He has also founded:

* Richard and Sheila Attenborough Visual Arts Centre
* Jane Holland Creative Centre for Learning (Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland)

Personal Life

Richard Attenborough married English actress Sheila Sim in 1945 and the couple are living happily till date. The couple had three children - Charlotte, Michael, and Jane. Jane, his elder daughter, was killed in the 2004 Tsunami, along with her daughter - Lucy and mother-in-law - also named Jane. Michael is also a director, just like his father, while Charlotte is an actress. Richard has two younger brothers - world-famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough and John Attenborough, involved in the motor trade. In 2008, Richard published an informal autobiography, Entirely Up to You, Darling

* 1967: Made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
* 1976: Knighted
* 1993: Made a life peer as Baron Attenborough, of Richmond upon Thames in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
* 2006: Awarded the title of Distinguished Honorary Fellow of the University of Leicester
* 2008: Awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Drama from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD), Glasgow
* Listed as an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University

1964 - BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role ('Guns at Batasi' & 'Seance on a Wet Afternoon')
1967 - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor ('The Sand Pebbles')
1968 - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor ('Doctor Dolittle')
1982 - Academy Award for Best Director ('Gandhi')
1982 - BAFTA Award for Best Direction ('Gandhi')
1983 - Golden Globe Award for Best Director - Motion Picture ('Gandhi')


As An Actor
1942: In Which We Serve
1946: Journey Together, A Matter of Life and Death, School for Secrets
1947: Brighton Rock, The Man Within
1948: London Belongs to Me, The Guinea Pig
1949: Boys in Brown
1950: Morning Departure
1951: The Magic Box, Hell Is Sold Out
1952: Father's Doing Fine, Eight O’Clock Walk, Gift Horse
1955: The Ship That Died of Shame
1956: Private's Progress, The Baby and the Battleship
1957: The Scamp, Brothers in Law
1958: Dunkirk, The Man Upstairs, Sea of Sand
1959: The League of Gentlemen, I'm All Right Jack, Danger Within, Jet Storm, SOS Pacific
1960: The Angry Silence
1962: Trial and Error
1963: The Great Escape
1964: Seance on a Wet Afternoon, Guns at Batasi
1965: The Flight of the Phoenix
1966: The Sand Pebbles
1967: Doctor Dolittle
1968: Only When I Larf, The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom
1969: The Magic Christian
1970: Loot, The Last Grenade, A Severed Head
1971: 10 Rillington Place
1972: Cup Glory (as narrator)
1974: And Then There Were None
1975: Rosebud, Brannigan, Conduct Unbecoming
1977: Shatranj Ke Khiladi
1979: The Human Factor
1993: Jurassic Park
1994: Miracle on 34th Street
1996: Hamlet
1997: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
1998: Jurassic Park: Trespasser (video game), Elizabeth
1999: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
2000: The Railway Children (
2001: Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story
2002: Puckoon

As A Director
1969: Oh! What A Lovely War
1972: Young Winston
1977: A Bridge Too Far
1978: Magic
1982: Gandhi (also producer)
1985: A Chorus Line
1987: Cry Freedom (also producer)
1992: Chaplin (also producer)
1993: Shadowlands (also producer)
1996: In Love and War
1999: Grey Owl
2007: Closing the Ring

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