Richard Attenborough

Iconography  Biog.  Tsunami  Trivia  Gallery  Attenborough Movie/Dvd Reviews  Recommended Viewing  Search Site

H I S  L I F E

Richard Attenborough autographs, photographs and more @ (direct link to photographs)

Richard Samuel Attenborough (1923-2014). His son announced his death (24th August) at the age of 90, just five days short of his 91st birthday. He died at lunchtime on Sunday. His family will release a statement on Monday. He had been confined to a wheelchair for the past six years following a stroke.

One of the true greats of British Cinema (up there with Hitchcock, Lean, Olivier, Guinness, Mills et al) has gone. And with the recent death of James Garner, that's two more of the greats from The Great Escape gone. Add that to Lauren Bacall passing away and it's beginning to sink in that we will never see their like again. You kind of thought they would always be 'there', older now but in the mood to reflect and come out with their wonderful anecdotes from those years when Hollywood was King. But it is 'life' and time passes. Time spent. We all become yesterday.

What a career though. And that's the great thing about Cinema and why in my book it beats the Theatre. It's all preserved for us to enjoy and marvel at, and for future generations to discover. 'What a baddie!' they will say when they see his Pinkie for the first time; 'can anyone really top Gandhi?' (and that includes Lean); and 'has there ever been a more accurate portrayal of 'someone' as his Christie in 10 RIllington Place?' And that's just the tip of the iceberg as he left so much.

The national newspapers in the UK reported his passing as the major news of the day when it broke but within a few hours it had fallen down the front page. Guess that's the nature of news reprting in this fast-paced world though one major newspaper on their online home page quickly replaced the top of the page with a picture of what Taylor Swift or someone was wearing at an awards ceremony. Kind of sad as he is one of the most important figures in the culture of the UK from the last 50 years or so. You can't replace his contribution to cinema with the debate on how low a person's skirt was.

The Icon of 20th-Century British Film. DVDs at

    'I never f**king cried at the Oscars - that's myth.'
    - Richard Attenborough

May 2013: Added extensive scans of a signed Richard Attenborough A Pictorial Film Biography. Added Cry Freedom movie review. Added extensive scans of a signed Cry Freedom book with details of making of film. Added in full the Richard Attenborough foreword to Variety Movie Guide 1994. Added scans of an original letter here. Oh! What a Lovely War UK Dvd Scans added. David Attenborough Website.

25th March 2013: It's been reported that Richard Attenborough has moved into a care home in West London which caters to elderly and sick entertainers to join his wife because of his deteriorating health. Lady Attenborough suffers from senile dementia. He suffered a suspected stroke in 2008.

Beaver Lodge, the hugely imposing and impressive family home on Richmond Green, Richmond, London was sold for £11.5million last year and he has been at the home since then. Selling the family home was a practical move, according to his brother, TV naturalist Sir David.

His younger brother John, a retired motor industry executive, died last November aged 83 from a degenerative brain condition.

Biography: Lord Richard Attenborough, born Richard Samuel Attenborough in Cambridge, UK on the 29th August 1923, has been an important part of British cinema for over 60 years...more

richard attenborough in brighton rock
Enlarge Image

    'I just love biography, and I'm fascinated by people
    who have shifted our destinies or our points of view’
    ~ Richard Attenborough

His Life

For people of different ages he represents something entirely different. For younger audiences he is the old grey bearded geezer from the blockbuster Jurassic Park (1993). But for older audiences he will be forever Pinkie in Brighton Rock, arguably the greatest villian that British cinema has ever produced.

In between lies a body of work both as a director and actor that propels him up with the likes of Olivier and Hitchcock in importance to British cinema. And his influence has not just been confined to British cinema. He has played and continues to play a major part in maintaining Britain’s cultural heritage, serving as patron to numerous arts organisations.

Attenborough started acting at the age of 12. He trained at RADA (The Royal Acadamy of Dramatic Arts) (he later became Chairman) and made his professional stage debut at 18. At 19 he made his feature film debut in In Which We Serve (1942). Attenborough apotheosized the English wimp, and continued doing so in many of his roles throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He often played cowardly, untrustworthy worms.

Stand-out roles in movies have included:

  • The League Of Gentlemen (1959) with Jack Hawkins.
  • As Squadron Leader Roger 'Big X' Bartlett , the doomed leader of The Great Escape (1963), a Hollywood movie.
  • The extremely subservient husband of unhinged medium Kim Stanley in Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)

His chilling portrayal of murderer John Christie in 10 Rillington Place (1971) must rank as one of his best performances. Alot of the filming was actually done in the West London street of the murderer and Attenborough got into the skin of Christie to such an extent that it is impossible to see how anyone else could of played the murderer.

    ‘Well, you cannot think of cinema now, and you cannot think of cinema in the UK and not place Chaplin in the most extraordinary elevated context, if there can be such a thing, in that he was a genius, he was unique'
    ~ Richard Attenborough

In the early 60s he set up a successful production company, Beaver Films, with writer/actor Bryan Forbes.

Attenborough turned to directing in the late 1960s, beginning with the well-received anti-war satire Oh, What a Lovely War! (1969). Following Young Winston (1972), A Bridge Too Far (1977), and Magic (1978) with a staggering performance from Anthony Hopkins, he achieved great success with Gandhi (1982) and won an Oscar as Best Director. The film took three Oscars. It had been his life ambition to direct Gandhi, and a difficult project to get off the ground considering the supposedly lack of box office appeal.

His follow-up to Gandhi, A Chorus Line (1985) was a misfire, and was disappointing to the artistic and visionary Gandhi. But his next movie, the evocative apartheid drama Cry Freedom (1987) more than made up for this disappointment.

In 1992, he finally fulfilled a long-held ambition to bring to film the life of Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin was an ambitious and well intentioned film, with a fine performance from Robert Downey Jr. as Chaplin, but failed at the box-office.


Ironically, Attenborough's next film became the biggest box-office hit of all time: Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park (1993), in which he accepted his first acting role in years. He then directed Anthony Hopkins (for the fifth time) in Shadowlands (1993), before returning to the screen as Kris Kringle in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street (1994). He was Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley in Elizabeth (1998).

In 1998, Attenborough directed Pierce Brosnan Grey Owl, the true story of Archie Grey Owl (Brosnan), a fake Indian guide and writer who inspired the world with his authentic tales of wilderness life and his plea to protect forest life.

His latest directing project is Closing the Ring (2004). Set in Belfast Northern Ireland during WWII. When a B-17 crashes near the city, the dying rear gunner asks a local to return his ring to his girlfriend back home. Half a century later, a young Belfast man finds the ring, learns its history and tracks down the old girlfriend in North Carolina.

He has been married to the actress Sheila Sim (born 1922) since 1945. They were the first to star in Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap in 1952, now the longest-running stage play in the world.

Lord and Lady Attenborough have three children. These include Michael Attenborough (born 1950), artistic director of The Almeida Theatre, London, and Vice Chairman of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) . He was formerly married to the actress Jane Seymour from 1971 to 1973.

The Attenboroughs also have a daughter, Charlotte Attenborough, also an actress.

Richard Attenborough Dvds/Books @ at (US)
Richard Attenborough Dvds/Books @ (UK)
Richard Attenborough Movie/Dvd Reviews
March 2013: Added in full the Richard Attenborough foreword to Variety Movie Guide 1994 here

© - Paul Page (2011)

richard attenborough in 10 rillington place
Enlarge Image

Update Dec 29, 2004

    As tsunami death toll tops 63,000, with up to half the victims children, a famous family's agony symbolishes global tragedy

LORD Attenborough was last night mourning the loss of a daughter and granddaughter in the tidal wave disaster.

Jane Holland, 49, and her daughter Lucy, 14, were on a family holiday in Phuket.

They died alongside Mrs Holland's mother-in-law, also called Jane Holland. A friend of the film director and his family said that although only Lucy's body had been recovered they had given up hope for the two women.

Two other grandchildren and their father survived as the tsunami struck Thailand on Boxing Day. News of the tragedy came as:

  • The remorselessly-rising death toll passed 63,000.

  • Officials said up to half were children. 'A generation has been decimated,' said a Sri Lanka aid worker.

  • The UK Government was attacked as 'stingy' for offering only £l.lmillion in aid.

  • That officials admitted that a warning broadcast may have been delayed because of worries about damaging the tourism industry.

Scores of Britons were still missing last night, leaving families across the country frantic for news. Others, like the Attenboroughs, had already learned the worst.

Their friend Diana Hawkins said in a statement:

    'Lord Attenborough and his wife, Sheila, have lost three members of their immediate family in the tidal wave disaster on Boxing Day. Their elder daughter, Jane, is missing, as is her mother-in-law, Jane Holland. The Attenboroughs' granddaughter, Lucy, 14, died at the scene. Another granddaughter, Alice, 17, is now being treated in hospital. Two members of the family group survived unscathed. They are the Attenboroughs' son-in-law, Michael Holland, and eldest grandson, Sam. The Holland family left their London home last week for a two-week holiday.'

Lord Attenborough, 81, once fondly recalled how Lucy, then just seven, presented a bouquet to his great friend Princess Diana at the premiere of the Sandra Bullock film In Love and War, which he directed.

He said:

    'She practised her curtsy at length, but at the last minute she was asked to present a programme with the bouquet and, in her confusion, she forgot to curtsy. A little while later I mentioned to the princess that Lucy was mortified and Princess Diana asked to be shown the curtsy. When Lucy curtsied. Princess Diana said: "I've never seen a more perfect one". Lucy was devoted to her after that.'

He recently recounted the memory of taking Lucy to see the film Miracle on 34th Street - in which he played Father Christmas - when she was three.

    'She said: "Grandpa, you can't sit next to me". I asked her why not, and she said: "You have to be up on the screen". It was a wonderful first reaction to a film.'

His daughter Jane, a former dancer and teacher, met her City broker husband in 1980, when they were neighbours in Clapham, South London. When they announced their engagement two years later she said:

    'Michael moved into the house next door, rang the doorbell and asked me out for a drink.'

The Attenboroughs have a younger daughter Charlotte, 43, a former actress who is married to London's Burning star Graham Sinclair and has two sons.

Lord Attenborough and wife Sheila with daughter
Jane who died in the disaster | Enlarge Image

Their son Michael, 54, is artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in London. He was briefly married to actress Jane Seymour and has two sons by his second wife, Karen. Lord Attenborough's 60-year acting career has included Brighton Rock and Jurassic Park, while the Oscar-winning Gandhi is among his directing credits. He lives in Richmond, Surrey, near his brother, naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

Richard Attenborough Dvds/Books @ at (US)
Richard Attenborough Dvds/Books @ (UK)
Richard Attenborough Movie/Dvd Reviews
March 2013: Added in full the Richard Attenborough foreword to Variety Movie Guide 1994 here

© - Paul Page (2011)


He is 5' 7" (1.70 m). Nicknames include: Dickie and Bunter.

    Has two brothers, naturalist/presenter David Attenborough, and John Attenborough.

Life Vice-President of Chelsea Football Club.

    Has lived for many years at Richmond Green, Richmond, south west London.

Appointed a CBE in 1967, knighted in 1976 and created a life peer in 1993.

    Third president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) (2002-). Vice-president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) (1971-1994). Freeman of the City of Leicester, 1990. Fellow of King's College, London, 1993.

Created an honorary D.Litt of the Universities of Leicester, Kent and Sussex in 1970, 1981 and 1987 respectively.

    A private man, he has never allowed an authorised biography to be published

His mother died in a road accident.

    Behind a campaign to have a statue of Nelson Mandela in Trafalgar Square.

Sheila Sim made her screen debut in the brilliant and atmospheric movie A Canterbury Tale (1944), directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and co-starring Eric Portman. Her final movie was The Night My Number Came Up (1955), directed by Leslie Norman, father of the renowned film critic Barry Norman.

Richard Attenborough Dvds/Books @ at (US)
Richard Attenborough Dvds/Books @ (UK)
Richard Attenborough Movie/Dvd Reviews
March 2013: Added in full the Richard Attenborough foreword to Variety Movie Guide 1994 here


richard attenborough in brighton rock
Richard Attenborough In Brighton Rock | Enlarge Image

richard attenborough in brighton rock
Richard Attenborough In Brighton Rock | Enlarge Image

richard attenborough in brighton rock
Richard Attenborough In Brighton Rock | Enlarge Image

richard attenborough in brighton rock
Richard Attenborough In Brighton Rock | Enlarge Image

richard attenborough brighton rock poster
Richard Attenborough In Brighton Rock | Enlarge Image

Boys In Brown | Enlarge Image

David Attenborough: Biog.

M O V I E  D V D S

James Stewart Its A Wonderful Life 2 Dvd Set Banner
UK 2 Dvd Set - The only place in the Universe you are guaranteed to get the cards & poster



Gandhi [DVD]
Richard Attenborough - Screen Icons [DVD]

Richard Attenborough Dvds/Books @ at (US)
Richard Attenborough Dvds/Books @ (UK)
Richard Attenborough Movie/Dvd Reviews

Richard Attenborough Links  Biog.  Tsunami  Gallery  Attenborough Movie/Dvd Reviews  Search Site  Top of Page

© Lenin Imports    E-mail