Richard Attenborough is an award-winning English actor, director and producer whose career spans six decades.
He was born in Cambridge, England on August 29, 1923. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London before serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He started his acting career in 1942, in the film In Which We Serve, as a deserting sailor. His breakthrough performance was in the 1947 film Brighton Rock, where he plays a psychopathic gangster.
For the next thirty years, Richard Attenborough worked tirelessly in British films, appearing in, among others: Private’s Progress, I’m All Right, Jack, Seance on a Wet Afternoon, and Guns at Batasi, for which he won a BAFTA Best Actor award for his portrayal of the Regimental Seargent Major. He was also part of the West End production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which started in 1952 and is still running. He also appeared in the 1963 Hollywood blockbuster The Great Escape, which introduced him to American audiences.
Richard Attenborough won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in 1967 for the film The Sand Pebbles, opposite Steve McQueen. The next year, he won the same award, this time for the film Doctor Doolittle, starring Rex Harrison.
He was also a producer and director of films. He co-founded Beaver Films and produced films such as 1959’s The League of Gentlemen, where he also appears. His directorial debut was the 1969 film Oh! What a Lovely War, and since then his acting appearances have become more sporadic.
Attenborough won an Academy Award for Best Director in 1982 for the biopic Gandhi. He also won the Best Picture Oscar as a producer. He directed other films into the ‘90s, such as 1992’s Chaplin (Robert Downey Jr.) and 1993’s Shadowlands (Anthony Hopkins). He reappeared on the silver screen as the eccentric John Hammond in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Jurassic Park.
He was knighted twice, in 1976 and 1983, and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. He also is president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), which gives away the BAFTA Awards every year.