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Richard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough, CBE (; 29 August 1923 – 24 August 2014) was an English actor, film director, film producer, entrepreneur and politician. He was the President of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
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Full Name at Birth
Richard Samuel Attenborough
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, UK
Actor, Producer, Director
Claim to Fame
The Great Escape, President of Denville Hall
Profile Bio Text
Richard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough /ˈætənbərə/, CBE (29 August 1923 – 24 August 2014) was an English actor, film director, producer and entrepreneur. He was the President of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
As a film director and producer, he won two Academy Awards for Gandhi in 1983. He has also won four BAFTA Awards and four Golden Globe Awards. As an actor he is perhaps best known for his roles in Brighton Rock, The Great Escape, 10 Rillington Place, Miracle on 34th Street and Jurassic Park.
He was the older brother of Sir David Attenborough, the naturalist and broadcaster, and John Attenborough, who was an executive at Alfa Romeo.
Attenborough was born in Cambridge, England, the eldest of three sons of Mary Attenborough (née Clegg), a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council, and Frederick Levi Attenborough, a scholar and academic administrator who was a fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and wrote a standard text on Anglo-Saxon law. Attenborough was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester and studied at RADA.
In September 1939, the Attenboroughs took in two German-Jewish refugee girls, Helga and Irene Bejach (aged 9 and 11 respectively), who lived with them in College House and were adopted by the family after the war when it was discovered that their parents had been killed. They moved to America in the 1950s and lived with an uncle, where they married and took American citizenship. They are both now deceased.
During the Second World War, Attenborough served in the Royal Air Force. After initial pilot training he was seconded to the newly formed RAF Film Unit at Pinewood Studios, under the command of Flight Lieutenant John Boulting (whose brother Peter Cotes would later direct Attenborough in the play The Mousetrap) where he appeared with Edward G. Robinson in the propaganda film Journey Together (1943). He then volunteered to fly with the Film Unit and after further training, where he sustained permanent ear damage, qualified as a sergeant, flying on several missions over Europe filming from the rear gunner's position to record the outcome of Bomber Command sorties.
Attenborough's father was the principal of University College, Leicester, now the city's university. This has resulted in a long association with the university, with Attenborough becoming a patron. The university's Embrace Arts at the RA centre, which opened in 1997 is named in his honour. He had two younger brothers: naturalist and broadcaster David; and John (died 2012), who had made a career in the motor trade.
Attenborough had been married to the English actress Sheila Sim since 1945. From 1949 until October 2012, they lived in Beaver Lodge on Richmond Green in London. The house was sold in October 2012 for £11.5 million, owing to the couple's deteriorating health.
On 26 December 2004, the couple's elder daughter, 49-year-old Jane Holland, as well as her mother-in-law, also named Jane, and Attenborough's 15-year-old granddaughter, Lucy, were killed when a tsunami caused by the Indian Ocean earthquake struck Khao Lak, Thailand, where they were on holiday. A service was held on 8 March 2005 and Attenborough read a lesson at the national memorial service on 11 May 2005. His grandson Samuel Holland, who survived the tsunami uninjured, and granddaughter Alice Holland, who suffered severe leg injuries, also read in the service. A commemorative plaque was placed in the floor of St. Mary Magdalen's parish church in Richmond. Attenborough later described the Boxing Day of 2004 as "the worst day of my life". Attenborough had two other children, Michael and Charlotte. Michael is a theatre director and the former artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in London and is married to actress Karen Lewis; they have two sons. Charlotte is an actress, and has three children.
Attenborough collected Picasso ceramics from the 1950s. More than 100 items went on display at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester in 2007, in an exhibition dedicated to family members lost in the tsunami.
In 2008 he published an informal autobiography entitled Entirely Up to You, Darling in association with his long-standing friend and colleague Diana Hawkins.
On 24 August 2014, Attenborough passed away at the age of 90.
Frederick Levi Attenborough
Mary Clegg Attenborough
David Attenborough, John Attenborough
Couple Profile Source
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Place of Death
London, England, United Kingdom
Wyggeston Grammar School, Leicester, England
Cause of Death
www.nndb.com/people/750/000023681/, www.biography.com/people/richard-attenborough-21149731, www.richardattenborough.com/Biography/, www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=134814909
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