Russell Dead At 84

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November 28, 2011 | 5:25am EST

British moviemaker Ken Russell has died at the age of 84.
Russell directed several classic British films during his 55-year career, including spy thriller Billion Dollar Brain, The Who’s rock opera Tommy, and Oscar-winning 1969 movie Women in Love.

He also notched up a range of acting and writing credits, and was working in front of the cameras as recently as 2010, when he played a university lecturer in crime drama Mr. Nice. He even has a role in upcoming horror movie Invasion of the Not Quite Dead.

Fellow British filmmaker Michael Winner paid tribute to Russell after news of his death was announced on Monday, telling the Daily Mirror, “I’ve known Ken since 1968. He was the most innovative director. I persuaded Oliver Reed to work with him even though Oliver said, ‘I’m not a TV star, I’m a movie star.’

“His television was in a field of its own, it was absolutely extraordinary. Then he graduated to movies… He was also a very nice person. He was very cheerful and very well-meaning. He had a very good run even though his style of picture-making became obsolete, but that happened to everyone, Billy Wilder and (Alfred) Hitchcock.”

Russell, who Winner insists had been “terribly ill for some time”, passed away in a hospital on Sunday. No further details were available as WENN went to press.