Richard Attenborough, a distinguished stage and film actor in Britain who reinvented himself to become the internationally admired director of the epic “Gandhi” and other films, died on Sunday. He was 90.
His death was confirmed by his son, Michael, according to the BBC.
Until the early 1960s, Mr. Attenborough was a familiar actor in Britain but little known in the United States. In London he was the original detective in Agatha Christie’s play “The Mousetrap.” On the British screen, he made an early mark as the sociopath Pinkie Brown in an adaptation of Graham Greene’s “Brighton Rock”(1947).
But it was not until he appeared with his friend Steve McQueen and a sterling ensemble cast in the 1963 war film “The Great Escape,” his first Hollywood feature, that he found a trans-Atlantic audience. His role, as a British officer masterminding an escape plan from a German prisoner-of-war camp, was integral to one of the most revered and enjoyable of all World War II films.
That performance established him in Hollywood and paved the way for a series of highly visible roles.