Affectionately as Dickie to his friends and loved ones, Attenborough began his acting career in the 1940s, with a breakout role in the 1947 gritty gangster movie Brighton Rock. He served in the Royal Air Force during WWII, before returning to work and over the next few decades appeared in several films including I’m All Right Jack, Guns at Batasi and The Great Escape, co-starring Steve McQueen and James Garner.
His work behind the lens began in 1969, when he directed the musical Oh! What a Lovely War; more than a decade later he was lauded for the epic 1982 film Gandhi, for which he won two Academy Awards. From there he went on to direct several other projects, including A Chorus Line, Cry Freedom and Chaplin. Attenborough returned to acting after a break of nearly 15 years, with memorable roles in films including Jurassic Park (1993) and Miracle on 34th Street (1994).
During his impressive career he received several accolades but the two that appeared to mean the most to him were the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which he received in 1967, and his knighthood in 1976. He also endured his share of tragedies, including the loss of his daughter Jane Holland and granddaughter Lucy, who were killed along with Jane’s mother-in-law in 2004’s devastating South Asian tsunami. Attenborough suffered a stroke in 2008, from which he never fully recovered, and in 2013 had moved into a nursing home in London so that he could receive fulltime care. Today, we pay tribute to the great performer by remembering some of his greatest roles.
Brighton Rock (1947)
The Great Escape (1963)
Guns at Batasi (1964)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)