Classic Film Club




Richard Attenborough

Adolph Zukor
  • (Richard Attenborough on the set of Gandhi, 1981)



Richard Attenborough was born Richard Samuel Attenborough in Cambridge, England in 1923. He was raised in Leicester, East Midlands where his father was a principal of the University of Leicester.   His mother was a founder of the Relate charity.   The eldest of three sons, Attenborough studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.   His younger brother is the documentary screenwriter/presenter David Attenborough (b. 1926).

He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, flew with the Film Unit and later, as a sergeant, flew as a tail gunner.

Attenborough began appearing on stage as a teenager and made his West End debut in 1942 at the age of 19.   He continued to appear on the English stage through 1992.

His film debut was In Which We Serve (1942) and by the end of the 1940s, he was a very popular British actor.

Attenborough twice won the BAFTA Award for Actor for his work in Guns at Batasi (1964) and Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964).   He also received two BAFTA Award Actor nominations for The Angry Silence (1960) and Trial and Error (1962).

He appeared in more than 65 feature films through 2002.

Attenborough co-founded the movie production company Beaver Films in 1960.   Their first production, The Angry Silence (1962), garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Writing.   He produced more than 10 feature films through 2007.

Attenborough added movie director to his resume in 1969 and won the Best Picture and Director Academy Awards for shepherding Gandhi (1982) to a successful release.   He stopped directing in 2007.

He married the actress Sheila Sim (b. 1922) in 1945 and the couple raised three children.   Their daughter is the actress Charlotte Attenborough (b. 1959).   Their eldest daughter and a granddaughter perished in the Asian Tsunami Disaster of 2004.

Attenborough died in London, in 2014, at the age of 90.



In Which We Serve

In Which We Serve
  • In Which We Serve
  • 1942
  • Made as a propaganda film to bolster the troops during World War II and written, directed by and starring the British playwright Noel Coward, it tells the tale of a British destroyer crew fighting in the Mediterranean.


  • Gandhi
  • 1982
  • Ben Kingsley stars in Attleborough's epic biography of the great little man.


  • Hamlet
  • 1996
  • Kenneth Branagh’s 3½ hour version is clouded by the large supporting cast of too well-known character actors.
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