British director, producer and screenwriter Lewis Gilbert has passed away at the age of 97. Gilbert directed three Bond films; YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967), THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) and MOONRAKER (1979).
Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have released the following statement: “It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of our dear friend Lewis Gilbert. Lewis was a true gentleman. He made an enormous contribution to the British film industry as well as the Bond films, directing YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and MOONRAKER. His films are not only loved by us but are considered classics within the series. He will be sorely missed.”
Born into a family of music-hall performers, Lewis Gilbert began his career as a child actor. British producer Alexander Korda offered to send him to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, but he had his sights set on directing. In 1939, he worked as an assistant on Alfred Hitchcock’s JAMAICA INN.
Joining the RAF when WWII broke out, Gilbert was attached to the US Air Corps film Unit where he directed several documentaries. He continued to write and direct documentaries after the war, before directing low budget features. He eventually graduated to bigger productions, making a name for himself with ALFIE (1966), which in turn made an international star of Michael Caine.
Gilbert won 2 BAFTAs for EDUCATING RITA (1984) and The Michael Balcon Award (1990). In 1997 he was awarded a CBE and in 2001 he was made a fellow of the British Film Institute.