March 29, 2004 by

Peter Ustinov

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Categories: Actors, Education, Hollywood, Military, Writers/Editors

pustinov.jpgSir Peter Alexander Ustinov, an Academy Award-winning British actor and author, died on March 28 from heart failure. He was 82.
Ustinov left the Westminster School at 16, and trained at the London Theatre Studio. He appeared in local revues and wrote his first stage play, “Fishing for Shadows,” when he was only 19. During World War II, he wrote and acted in films for the British Army Cinema Unit.
Ustinov’s six-decade film career launched in 1942, when he appeared in the film, “One of Our Aircraft Is Missing.” More than 80 TV and movie roles followed, including parts in “The Great Muppet Caper,” “Lorenzo’s Oil,” “Luther” and in several movies as Hercule Poirot. He directed eight feature films, but was most proud of his work on “Billy Budd,” which he also wrote and produced.
Ustinov received his first Oscar nomination in 1951 for “Quo Vadis.” He won the best supporting actor prize a decade later for playing Lentulus Batiatus, the proprietor of a school for gladiators, in “Spartacus.” In 1964, he won again for his humorous portrayal of Arthur Simon Simpson in the comedic caper, “Topkapi.”
Fluent in French, German, English, Italian, Russian and Spanish, Ustinov starred in, produced and directed his own plays on stages all over the world. In his “spare time,” Ustinov served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, president of the World Federalist Movement and chancellor of Durham University in England. He also wrote several books, including the 1977 autobiography “Dear Me.” Ustinov was awarded the Companion of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1975, and knighted in 1990.
When asked what he wanted his epitaph to say, Ustinov replied: “Keep off the grass.”

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