I always wanted to make films that might change or at least focus people's views
Richard Attenborough was one of Britain’s most successful post-war film actors. From this, he developed into a hugely successful film director too winning awards and accolades aplenty for his film biopic of Gandhi.
He came from a talented family. His brother David is the world-renowned broadcaster and naturalist. David, ironically, had the looks of a movie star in his youth, but it was baby-faced Richard who was soon making an impact as an actor, making his debut in wartime morale booster, In Which We Serve and playing Pinkie, the malevolent young gang leader in Brighton Rock. He could play at the extremes, playing a murderer in one film, Father Christmas in another.
But from the late Sixties onwards, Richard was seeking new challenges. “Becoming a director enabled me to do things I couldn't do as an actor,” he said. He fulfilled a lifelong ambition in making the Oscar-winning epic Gandhi starring film newcomer, Ben Kingsley as the Indian leader. The famous funeral scene, filmed in a pre-CGI age, involved a record-breaking 400,000 extras.
In later life, he returned to acting becoming everyone’s idea of the perfect Father Christmas in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street as well as the bumbling theme park owner in Jurassic Park. In 2004, he lost both his daughter and granddaughter in the Boxing Day tsunami.
Knighted in 1976, Sir Richard was renowned for his enduring happy marriage and his social conscience.
“I want to be remembered as a storyteller,” was his own wish.