Academy Award-winning director and actor Sir Richard Attenborough has died aged 90. Attenborough was probably best known as the director of three epic biopics of towering figures of the twentieth century: Young Winston, Gandhi and Chaplin, and as an actor his beaming, bearded Santa Claus features were known to a generation of audiences for grandfatherly roles in Jurassic Park and as, well, Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street.
Attenborough started in the business young. A young Attenborough can be glimpsed in his debut in David Lean’s In Which We Serve and later in Powell and Pressburger’s classic A Matter of Life and Death. He made a splash as Pinkie, the cherubic-looking but utterly terrifying adolescent gangster in the film of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock. He was also memorable as Roger Bartlett, alias “Big X”, the POW who organizes The Great Escape. As an actor Attenborough was generally known for playing gentle or bluff but generally harmless old duffers, so it was something of a shock for audiences to see him as a seedy serial killer in the true-crime drama 10 Rillington Place. Attenborough was also the director of the Steven Biko biopic Cry Freedom, the World War II epic A Bridge Too Far, and the backstage Broadway musical A Chorus Line. His equally-famous brother is naturalist and documentary maker David Attenborough.