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Lord Richard Attenborough


The much honoured actor, producer and director Richard Attenborough (Lord Attenborough of Richmond upon Thames) has had a long and distinguished association with UNICEF.

Lord Attenborough became a Goodwill Ambassador on 27 October 1987 and built his familiarity with UNICEF programmes and staff during the filming of Gandhi in India and later Cry Freedom in Zimbabwe. UNICEF benefited directly from special fundraising premieres of both of these films. Premieres of Gandhi, for instance, raised almost US$1 million.

Home and away

In October and November 1994, Lord Attenborough undertook an extensive mission to Africa. He returned to South Africa in November 1995, after it had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, for which he had campaigned on his earlier visit. In April 2000, he visited Mozambique after it had been devastated by floods and set up a joint appeal by UNICEF and the United Kingdom’s Observer newspaper. He has also visited several UNICEF-supported projects in Thailand.

Lord Attenborough has worked tirelessly for UNICEF closer to home, too, supporting many advocacy and fund-raising initiatives and working to bring children’s issues to the forefront of the political and news agenda. For example, in December 1998, he joined UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy to launch The State of the World’s Children report in London, using his unique standing and skills to publicize its aims with the world’s media.

© UNICEF/HQ 99-0224/Pirozzi
Lord Attenborough and his wife admire children's artwork in Johannesburg, South Africa, 1999.

Double distinction

Lord Attenborough’s social concerns are evident in an exemplary record of public service throughout his adult life. In the United Kingdom he served as Chairman of the Actors’ Charitable Trust and the Combined Charities Appeal Council for over 30 years, and he remains president of both organizations. He is also Vice-President of Save the Children Fund and President of the Muscular Dystrophy Group of Great Britain.

Lord Attenborough was born in Cambridge, United Kingdom, on 29 August 1923. At the age of 17 he took up a Leverhulme scholarship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He made his screen debut in 1942 and went on to star in almost 60 films, including Brighton Rock (1947), The Great Escape (1963), 10 Rillington Place (1971), Jurassic Park (1992) and The Lost World (1997). He ventured into independent production with innovative films such as The League of Gentlemen (1959) and The Angry Silence (1960), in which he also starred.

In 1962 he began his quest to produce and direct a film on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Twenty years later, the finished epic swept both the American and British Academy Awards. In the meantime he had built a significant reputation as a director, beginning with the controversial Oh! What a Lovely War in 1969. More recent directorial highlights include Cry Freedom (1987), Chaplin (1992) and Shadowlands (1993).



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