Monday, September 1, 2014

RIP Mark Gil

Mark Gil 'died peacefully in his sleep in the arms of his wife'
GMA News
September 1, 2014
The Eigenmann family on Monday released a statement on the death of award-winning actor Mark Gil. Born Ralph John Eigenmann, Gil died due to liver cancer. He was 52.
According to the family, Gil was diagnosed with liver cancer two years ago, but only found out that it was terminal this year. They said that it had been the actor's request not to reveal his condition.
The son of actors Eddie Mesa and Rosemarie Gil, Mark Gil was part of one of the most respected showbiz clans in the country. His sister Cherie Gil and brother Michael de Mesa are also well-known character actors who have made numerous films.
He is also the father of actors Gabby Eigenmann (with commercial model/actress Irene Celebre), Sid Lucero (with Bing Pimentel), and Andi Eigenmann (with actress Jaclyn Jose).
The family's statement follows in full:
“We, the Eigenmann Family, would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to everybody who has shown their concern for Ralph these past few weeks.
 It is with much sorrow that we announce that he passed away this morning at exactly 8 am. He died peacefully in his sleep in the arms of his wife, Maricar, and surrounded by family.
 Ralph was first diagnosed with liver cancer two years ago, but it was only in June of this year that he found out that it was terminal. It was Ralph’s request that this should not be revealed, and we did not question his decision.
 To those who have asked us about his condition, especially his colleagues, the press and fans, we apologize for not being forthright, but we also ask for understanding.
 We would, however, like everyone to know that he spent his last days in comfort and in no pain. In fact, he was in good spirits and humor, and enjoying the presence of his entire family. Even then, he was still bringing us together, as he always has, and we are now all complete.
 Until the very end, he was a warrior. Ralph faced death with courage and grace, while still bringing laughter to the room. That was his gift: the ability to make those around him better.
 Ralph had told us that he only wanted to spend and cherish the remaining precious days of his life in the company of his family and closest friends. He also wished that we be allowed to grieve his passing in private.
 We all request that the public please respect his wish and allow us to mourn his passing accordingly.
 Please allow us this time as well to remember Ralph: husband, son, brother, father and grandfather.
 For the outpouring of love for Ralph that we’ve received on his behalf, we thank you. It is deeply appreciated.
 For those who’ve known and loved him throughout his career in cinema, and television, we will hold a celebration of his life and work. We will announce the details at a later time. But for now we would like to assure everyone that as long as Filipino films are being watched and appreciated, there will always be Mark Gil.
 To quote a line from Batch ’81, one of the many movies he made his own, and characteristic of Ralph himself: "Sa simula’t katapusan ay kapatiran."
GIL, Mark (Raphael Joseph De Mesa Eigenmann)
Born: 9/25/1961, Manila, Philippines
Died: 9/1/2014, Manila, Philippines
Mark Gil’s western – actor:
Zorro – 2009 (Horacio Pelaez)

Friday, August 29, 2014

RIP Stu Gilliam

RIP Stu Gilliam
Bahá i Faith
January/February 2014
Stewart B. Gilliam—by professional identity, Stu Gilliam—a comedian, ventriloquist and actor whose career reached its height in the 1960s and ’70s, helped break ground for African-American comics to perform for racially mixed audiences in segregated states. A Bahá’í and enthusiastic teacher of the Faith for nearly four decades, mainly in the Los Angeles area, he had recently joined his wife as a pioneer in the Czech Republic.
Stu passed away October 11, 2013, in Ceske Budejovice after a heart attack. He was 80.
In a message expressing condolences to his wife, Vivian Lee White Baravalle Gilliam, and his daughter, Velnita Renee Woods of Texas, the Universal House of Justice wrote, “May his devoted efforts to serve the Cause as a pioneer together with you to the Czech Republic towards the end of his life be a source of encouragement and inspiration to his loved ones and friends.”
In its turn, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States praised his “ardent desire and strenuous efforts” in moving abroad “despite significant impediments to his health and mobility.”
And a letter from the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Los Angeles noted his “success as a Bahá’í teacher and popular speaker at firesides and other Bahá’í gatherings. Even in advanced sickness, Stu was an avid promoter of the Faith and its principles, just as concerned for the spiritual health of the doctors and nurses around him as they were in attending to his physical well-being.”
Born in 1933 in a middle-class area of Detroit, Stu was the grandson of a minister and grew up in a strong church tradition, according to an audio interview posted on the Web by a Bahá’í.
He proved a voracious student of a variety of performing arts, and was so gifted as a young ventriloquist that he left home at 14 to perform with a circus and in state fairs, then after a few years began to appear in clubs in Chicago. During his two-year service in the Korean War, he and his dummy Oscar entertained troops.
In the 1950s and ’60s he often worked a nationwide circuit of clubs with mainly or exclusively black audiences, including several appearances at the Apollo in New York City. He sometimes served as an emcee for mixed-race shows, but in several states was prevented from appearing onstage at the same time as white performers.
According to his interview, his growing comedy skills gained him connections and respect among “other writer-performers who wanted black entertainers as a whole to advance.” Recognizing his acumen with mixed audiences, the Playboy Club circuit placed him before largely white crowds, including in southern states where that constituted an open challenge to segregation laws.
The late 1960s saw Stu break into national television, including The Ed Sullivan Show, Playboy After Dark and The Dean Martin Show. He also traveled to England and France with Liberace.
Over the next two decades, he continued to appear on television — comedy, drama and game shows — and was a star of the sitcom Roll Out for one season. He also appeared in the 1975 Broadway production The Wiz; did voice work for many children’s cartoons; and acted in a number of movies, his last role being in Meteor Man in 1993.
In Los Angeles, Stu’s friend Al Waterford Sr. — whom he had met through a fellow comic, Waterford’s cousin Redd Foxx — introduced Stu to the Bahá’í Faith in 1975. He attended fireside gatherings with the Waterford family on their sailboat docked in Marina Del Rey; during one of those firesides Stu first met Vivian White.
In the Web interview, Stu said he was afraid his friend had become enmeshed in a cult. So “to get him out of trouble” Stu went to the Los Angeles Bahá’í Center, bought a number of books, got into his camper and drove upstate to a national park, where he spent some time camping and reading.
Before long he had decided he was also a Bahá’í. “It made so much sense to start with,” he reflected, “the ideal that religion is one.”
He was active for many years in area Bahá’í communities, notably North Hollywood.
Vivian White Baravalle, who had lived as a Bahá’í pioneer for 20 years in Italy, then since 1998 in the Czech Republic, crossed paths with Stu on a 2004 visit to Los Angeles. Both divorced from their previous spouses, they rekindled their friendship; in 2007 they were married in a ceremony at the Los Angeles Bahá’í Center.
He moved to be with her in Ceske Budejovice, but because of continuing treatments and surgeries for lung cancer and COPD, he spent most of his time in North Hollywood and Burbank. So Vivian would “commute” to California in the summers.
“Stu loved his adopted country, the Czech Republic, and its people, especially our many friends here,” his wife notes.
His burial spot is in Borsov nad Vltavou, a peaceful locale on the Vltava River.
GILLIAM, Stu (Stuart Byron Gilliam)
Born: 7/27/1943, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.
Died: 10/10/2013, Ceské Budejovice, Czechoslovakia
Stu Gilliam’s westerns – actor:
The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again – 1979 (Black Cook)
Wildside (TV) – 1985 (dance troupe leader)

RIP Larry Heath

Lawrence Dillion Heath passed away on Saturday, August 16, 2014. He was born on November 14, 1925 in Bellrose, NY. His father worked in the silent film industry at the Vitagraph studios in Brooklyn and Astoria Studios in Queens. In 1935 the family moved permanently to Glendale, CA when his father began working at the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank.
Larry graduated from Hoover High School in June of 1943. The Monday following graduation, Larry began working at the Warner Brothers Studios, first on the labor gang, then shortly thereafter in the Editing department shipping room. On his 18th birthday in November of 1943, Larry enlisted in the United States Army.
Larry was placed in the 69th Infantry Division and dispatched to the European theatre. Assigned to mortars and placed in the 271st Regiment, M Company, he fought in the ''Battle of the Bulge'' and participated in the Rhineland Campaign and Central Europe Campaign. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Infantryman's badge, in which he took great pride.
Returning home in May of 1946, Larry began working in the Editorial department of RKO studios in Hollywood, CA. On November 27, 1947 Larry married Raylene Spencer. They lived in Burbank, CA raising their six children.
While Larry's career began working on motion pictures, he transitioned into television and was a pioneer in the new industry. He became a sound editor on early television programs such as ''The Buster Keaton Show'' and ''Beulah'' with Hattie McDaniel. In the early 1950's, Larry became a member of the editorial staff on the ''Burns and Allen'' television show. Starting as an assistant film editor, he moved up to Sound Editor and then Film Editor. He became Editorial Department Head of the company (McCadden Productions), supervising the editing on the TV shows "Burns and Allen", "I married Joan", and "The Bob Cummings Show".
In Larry's editing career, he edited numerous television shows, pilots and feature films. In the 1960s he worked on "The Fugitive", "Gilligan's Island", and edited the feature film ''Billy Jack''. During the 1970's came "Rhoda" and "Angie". The 1980's brought him to Universal Studios where he completed his career editing "House Calls" and eight seasons of "Simon and Simon". Larry retired from the film industry in 1990.
Larry is survived by his wife of 66 years, Raylene; his daughter Mary Strawser, a retired School Teacher and School Administrator, and her husband Edward Strawser; his sons: Larry Jr., a Principal at McGrath elementary school in Newhall, CA, and his wife Laurie; Tim, a retired Insurance Executive, and his wife Donna; John, a Film Editor and TV Producer/Director, and his wife Patty; and David, an Editorial Department Head at Universal Studios, and his wife Bonnie. Larry was preceded in death by his fifth son Joseph, an Attorney in Long Beach, CA, who passed away in April of this year. Larry is survived by Joseph's widow Tricia Heath. Larry was also preceded in death by his granddaughter Brenda Heath and his daughter-in-law Diane Heath.
Larry's greatest pride was his family, including 15 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren, his Catholic faith, and his Irish Heritage.
On Saturday August 16, around 4 p.m., surrounded by his wife, his children and his grandchildren, the door of heaven was opened to Dad. Propelled by the love in his heart, Dad soared to his Beatific moment into the arms of Jesus and the Blessed Mother.
HEATH, Larry (Lawrence Dillon Heath)
Born: 11/14/1925, Bellerose, New Yotk, U.S.A.
Died: 8/16/2014, Santa Clarita, California, U.S.A.
Larry Heath’s western – film editor:
Dusty’s Trail (TV) – 1973-1974

RIP Bryce Dion

Massachusetts native Bryce Dion, 'Cops' TV show crew member killed by police while filming in Nebraska, was born in Lawrence
Conor Berry
August 28, 2014
LAWRENCE — Bryce Dion, the "Cops" TV show crew member killed by police while filming in Nebraska this week, was born in Lawrence and attended St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune reports.
Dion, 38, was the first crew member to die in the line of duty in the history of the 25-year-old show, according to its producers.
"We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragedy and our main concern is helping his family in any way we can," Langley Productions, which produces Cops, said in a statement.
It was a bullet from an Omaha police officer's gun that killed the Massachusetts native, who was a sound technician for the popular program "starring the men and women of law enforcement."
He was killed by "friendly fire," police Chief Todd Schmaderer said, calling Dion a "friend" of the Omaha Police Department. The death has cast a pall over the department. "Bryce was their friend," Schmaderer said, adding that officers were "taking this very hard."
"Cops" had been working with police in Nebraska's largest city since June, USA Today reports, and many officers had become friendly with the TV crew. "This is especially difficult for them," Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said.
Tim Bresnahan, a former sports reporter for the Eagle-Tribune, said Dion was a Lawrence native who graduated from St. John's Prep with Bresnahan. Dion's mother lives in Haverhill, according to the Lawrence newspaper.
Dion and "Cops" cameraman Michael Lee were with Omaha officers when they responded to a restaurant robbery, during which the gunman also was shot and killed by police.
The suspect, 32-year-old Cortez Washington, was a prison parolee from Kansas who was armed with an authentic-looking Airsoft pellet gun that was mistaken for the real deal, the Daily News reports.
Dion was accidentally hit as officers opened fire on Washington as the suspect fled from a Wendy's restaurant in Omaha, a city of more than 421,000 people. The incident remains under investigation.
John Langley, the creator and producer of "Cops," reminded people that the show is as real as real can get. " 'Cops' truly is a reality show. It's not manipulated, it's not managed," he said at a press conference Wednesday. "It's all true, it's all real, it happens as it happens."
Fans posted condolences on the reality show's Facebook page, which now features a black band over the program's logo.
"The best thing to honor (Dion) would be to continue filming episodes in his honor. Canceling is not what he would have wanted. May he RIP and prayers to his family," Christian Miner said.
"It breaks my heart that you have lost one of your best," Robert Grimm posted. "It is a stark example of the circumstances that police face daily and the evil they encounter. ... My condolences for your loss."
DION, Bryce (Bryce David Dion)
Born: 1976, Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Died: 8/27/2014, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A.
Bryce Dion’s western – sound mixer:
Shiloh Falls - 2007

Thursday, August 28, 2014

RIP Bill Stratton

William (Bill) Stratton, 83, Faria Beach, Ventura. The world lost one of its most creative minds on August 20, 2014. Bill Stratton, aka Kahuna to his grandchildren, paddled out from his beach house one last time, with his children by his side, the sound of classical music in his ears and the taste of a martini on his lips.
An original ad man of the early 1960's, Bill was responsible for developing the persona of characters like Tony the Tiger for television advertising. The leaden skies of Chicago and the high mortality rate of the advertising business led him to California and screen writing for television. He wrote several movies-of-the-week, including Voyage of the Yes, collaborating with Johnny Cash on The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James and The Baron and the Kid, writing and producing American Harvest, writing A Son's Promise and the final installment of the Gunsmoke series: The Long Ride. Bill was the longest standing writer for the original Hawaii Five-0 television series, worked as a staff writer for Aaron Spelling on shows such as Vegas and Hart to Hart, and contributed dozens of scripts to other shows including Rockford Files, Harry O, Blue Knight, Mod Squad, and Storefront Lawyers. He created the pilot and wrote scripts for the series Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, starring Stacey Keach. He continued writing manuscripts and memoirs in his retirement. He received the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe award for mystery writing in 1983.
Bill was popular in the television industry for his ability to create original stories with authentic dialogue, repudiating the trite and formulaic. The well spring for his creativity was the Pacific Ocean where he surfed or swam almost daily at his beloved Pitas Point for the past 5 decades. He was an avid tennis player -- one of the original founders of the Ojai Valley Racquet Club. For those who knew him, his door was always open: with wickedly strong coffee brewing, he was open to frank discussions on topics including history, politics and personal development.
Born in 1930 in Kansas City, Missouri, Bill served in the Korean War, was a journalism major at Kansas State University, was married to Donna Lee MacDougall and then Sandra Freeman. His surviving family comprises Hall and Alicia Stratton of Oak View, their sons Layne and Robert; Anna Stratton of Washington DC; Shelby and Emily Fleming of Alexandria VA, their son Nathan; and Sheryl Stratton of Falls Church VA, her children, Jay, Sarah and Sabrina; Doug and Liz Freeman of Basalt CO and Ventura; and Bob and Debbie Freeman of Salt Lake City UT, their sons Jacob and Andrew.
He requested his obituary state: The curmudgeon of Faria Beach succumbed after a long heroic struggle with poison oak during which he learned that "that man is rich who has a scratch for every itch."
A memorial service will be held this fall. Please contact for details.
STRATTON, Bill (William Stratton)
Born: 11/11/1930, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.
Died: 8/20/2014, Faria Brach, Ventura, California, U.S.A.
Bill Stratton’s western – screenwriter:
Gunsmoke: The Long Ride (TV) – 1993

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

RIP Stephen Lee

Stephen Lee, Character Actor in ‘Burlesque,’ ‘The Negotiator,’ Dies at 58
Carmel Dagan
August 27, 2014
Stephen Lee, a talented character actor who spent more than three decades in the business, died of a heart attack on August 14. He was 58.
Some of his more notable credits include the films “Burlesque” (2010), with Cher and Christina Aguilera; “The Negotiator” (1998), with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey; and, much earlier, 1983’s “WarGames” with Matthew Broderick.
Lee also did a great deal of TV work, with credits dating back to “Hart to Hart” in 1981 and “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Who’s the Boss?” in 1984.
The actor’s more recent TV credits include “NCIS,” “Numbers,” “Bones” and “Ghost Whisperer,” and he worked last in 2010.
On the way he appeared on such TV shows as “thirtysomething,” soap “Santa Barbara,” “Family Ties,” “Night Court,” “Roseanne,” “Quantum Leap,” “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Grace Under Fire,” “Babylon 5,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Seinfeld.”
Other films in which he appeared included “La Bamba” and “RoboCop 2.”
LEE, Stephen
Born: 11/11/1955, Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 8/14/2014, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Stephen Lee’s westerns – actor:
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (TV) – 1983 (Jimmy
Dream West (TV) – 1986
Guns of Paradise (TV) – 1989 (Jacob Brandt)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

RIP Richard Attenborough

Richard Attenborough, Oscar-Winning Director of ‘Gandhi,’ Dies at 90

Carmel Dagan
August 24, 2014
Richard Attenborough, who was honored for his helming and production of the 1982 Oscar best picture “Gandhi” but was best known to American audiences for his role in Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” and its first sequel as park creator John Hammond, died on Sunday, his son tells BBC News. He was 90.
The stocky British filmmaker was awarded a life peerage by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993 for his stage work and for his efforts behind and in front of the camera to promote British cinema.
While Attenborough had been a prominent character actor in his native country since the early 1940s, he also achieved much as a producer, motion picture executive and cultural impresario. At various times he was chairman of the British Film Institute, Channel 4, Goldcrest Films, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and Capital Radio and a director of the Young Vic and the British Film Institute. In the late ’70s, he helped preserve and restore London’s Duke of York Theater.
A career in film directing began in 1969 with an adaptation of Joan Littlewood’s biting musical satire “Oh! What a Lovely War.” Few of his directing efforts achieved the stature of “Gandhi,” which he had championed for more than 20 years. But there were noteworthy attempts to deal with historical and biographical subjects including “Cry Freedom,” about South African apartheid; “Chaplin,” a biography of the immortal screen comic; and “Shadowlands,” based on William Nicholson’s play focusing on British writer C.S. Lewis.
“I have no interest in being remembered as a great creative filmmaker,” he once said. “I want to be remembered as a storyteller.”
Despite more than 50 years as a stage and screen actor — including supporting roles in adventure pics “The Flight of the Phoenix” (1965) and “The Sand Pebbles” (1966) and “Doctor Dolittle” (1967) — it was only in 1992 that Attenborough achieved widespread international recognition for his starring role in “Jurassic Park,” the largest-grossing film ever at the time. (Later acting credits included Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet” and the Cate Blanchett starrer “Elizabeth.”)
In the late 1950s, in an effort to enhance the quality of his movie assignments, Attenborough united with writer-director Bryan Forbes to create Beaver Films. Their first effort, 1960’s “The Angry Silence,” was a sharply defined working-class drama, part of the new generation of realistic British films. In addition, Beaver produced “The League of Gentlemen,” “Whistle Down the Wind,” “The L-Shaped Room” and “Seance on a Wet Afternoon” between 1961 and 1964. The last film, in which Attenborough co-starred with Kim Stanley, brought him the British Academy Award along with his work in “Guns at Batasi.” The positive reception for “Seance” in the U.S. coupled with his supporting role in hit WWII actioner “The Great Escape” in 1963 led to a career as a Hollywood character actor starting with “The Flight of the Phoenix” (1965) and “The Sand Pebbles” (1966).
In 1967 he appeared in the big-budget musical “Doctor Dolittle,” which brought him a Golden Globe for supporting actor.
With the help of British actors including Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, John Mills and Michael Redgrave, Attenborough was able to persuade Paramount Pictures to bank his debut directing effort, an adaptation of Joan Littlewood’s WWI fantasia “Oh What a Lovely War.” Though not a financial success in the U.S., the film was honored with a Golden Globe and six British Academy Awards.
Attenborough continued to act in films through the early ’70s in such efforts as “David Copperfield,” “A Severed Head,” “Loot” and the chilling “10 Rillington Place,” in which he played a mass murderer. By 1972 he had the money to shoot biographical adventure “Young Winston,” based on the early life of Winston Churchill. The pic was well received, but his next film, 1977’s “A Bridge Too Far,” sported an international name cast but was a $25 million flop.
To produce and direct his next film, a biography of the life of Indian pacifist leader Mohandas K. Gandhi, Attenborough beat the bushes for 20 years and redoubled his efforts only after Lean abandoned a similar project. He turned down an offer to be associate director of Britain’s National Theater, mortgaged his house, sold his cars, pawned his paintings, took on a number of subpar roles in films such as “Brannigan,” “Rosebud” and “Ten Little Indians” and made a poor directing choice in “Magic” for producer Joseph E. Levine, basically done as a favor to interest Levine in financing “Gandhi.”
With the help of Goldcrest Films and Indian’s National Film Development Corp., Attenborough had financing in hand by the end of the 1970s. He passed on several prominent actors such as Alec Guinness and Dustin Hoffman to cast a highly regarded Royal Shakespeare Company actor, Ben Kingsley, who was part Indian.
The film copped eight Oscars, including two for Attenborough as best director and for producing the best picture. Attenborough detailed his struggle to make the film in a book, “In Search of Gandhi,” published in 1982.
In 1985, he was named chairman of Goldcrest just after he completed work on a failed film adaptation of the Broadway musical “A Chorus Line.” His next film, also a personal project, was “Cry Freedom,” the story of British journalist Donald Woods (played by Kevin Kline) and South African activist-martyr Steven Biko (a role for which Denzel Washington received a supporting actor Oscar nomination).
His 1992 biopic “Chaplin” was less successful, though Robert Downey Jr. drew a deserved Oscar nomination for best actor. The following year Attenborough directed Anthony Hopkins and Oscar nominated Debra Winger in “Shadowlands,” which proved both a commercial and critical success.
That was the same year Attenborough’s face finally become familiar across America (and the world) in “Jurassic Park,” Spielberg’s monumental blockbuster based on Michael Crichton’s novel. It was his first acting assignment in 13 years and led to further work in front of the camera: He played Kris Kringle in John Hughes’ remake of “The Miracle on 34th Street” for the Fox Network, and over the
next several years appeared in roles in Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet,” the Cate Blanchett starrer “Elizabeth” and telepic “The Railway Children” (2000). In 2006 he appeared in “Welcome to World War One,” a documentary about the making of “Oh! What a Lovely War.”
Attenborough was still directing, too. In 1996 he helmed “In Love and War,” starring Chris O’Donnell and Sandra Bullock in the story of the young Ernest Hemingay and a nurse he loved after he was injured in WWI. His 1999 film “Grey Owl” starred Pierce Brosnan as a Canadian fur trapper who became a conservationist. Attenborough attempted a film that, like “Gandhi,” carried a sociopolitical message, but Variety called the direction “old fashioned.”
 After an absence of eight years, Attenborough directed the sentimental tale “Closing the Ring” (2007), starring Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine.
In May 2012 Attenborough teamed with Martin Scorsese and Anthony Haas to develop the film “Silver Ghost,” a drama based on the true story of the founding of Rolls Royce. Attenborough was to direct, but he was in rapidly declining health after suffering a stroke in 2008 that left him in a wheelchair.
The oldest son of an Anglo-Saxon scholar and university administrator, Attenborough was the eldest of three sons. (Brother David is a naturalist behind many acclaimed BBC documentary series). His mother, the former Mary Clegg, was the daughter of art historian Samuel Clegg.
Born in Cambridge, he was already involved in amateur theatrics by his teens. In 1940 Attenborough won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, making his professional debut while still a student in a production of Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah Wilderness!” In 1942 he made his screen debut in Noel Coward’s “In Which We Serve,” directed by David Lean.
RADA honored him with the Bancroft Medal for fine acting in 1942 and, upon leaving school, he made his West End debut in Clifford Odets’ “Awake and Sing.” Significant roles in productions of “Twelfth Night” and “Brighton Rock” followed before Attenborough enlisted in the Royal Air Force, becoming part of its film unit. He also flew film reconnaissance missions over Germany during the war.
In 1946 he signed a contract with producers John and Ray Boulting. He reprised his stage role in the film version of “Brighton Rock,” followed by “The Guinea Pig” in 1948 and “The Gift Horse” in 1952.
His film career sputtered in the 1950s: Projects like “Eight O’Clock Walk” and “The Baby and the Battleship” were abysmal. So he returned to the stage in “To Dorothy, a Son,” “Double Image” and Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” (appearing in the original cast as Detective Sergeant Trotter), which became England’s longest-running show.
Beginning in 1956, the film side picked up when he appeared for the Boultings in a series of social satires including “Private’s Progress” and “I’m All Right, Jack.”
His autobiography “Entirely Up to You, Darling” was published in 2008.
Attenborough was married in early 1945 to actress Sheila Sim, with whom he had three children, Jane, Charlotte and Michael, all of whom worked in the performing arts.
ATTENBOROUGH, Richard Lord (Richard Samuel Attenborough)
Born: 8/29/1923, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, U.K.
Died: 8/24/2014, West London, England, U.K.
Richard Attenborough’s western – director:
Grey Owl – 1999