Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Hero's Birthday

"I believe we need heroes. I believe we need certain people who we can measure our own shortcomings by."

Richard Attenborough

Today is Richard Attenborough's 86th birthday.

I'm not sure what modern viewers think of when they hear his name. Many may only know him as a film director, and he certainly has made his mark in that area. He won an Oscar as the director of one of my favorite films, "Gandhi," and he directed many other films as well.

Others may think of him as an actor, and he has had a distinguished career in front of the camera as well.

Certainly, moviegoers remember him as the grandfatherly entrepreneur in 1993's "Jurassic Park," but his time as an actor dates back to 1942.

That was a couple of years before he married his wife, Sheila Sim, who recently observed her 87th birthday.

In their 60–plus–year marriage, the Attenboroughs had three children together. One of their daughters, Jane, was killed in the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, along with her own daughter and her mother–in–law.

An advocate of education, Attenborough took his grief and turned it into a positive, establishing the Jane Holland Creative Centre for Learning at Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland in his daughter's memory.

That was truly an heroic act.