Oscar-Winning 'English Patient' Director Dies

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Acclaimed director Anthony Minghella, who adapted books such as "The English Patient," "Cold Mountain" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley" for the screen, has died. He was 54.

The Oscar-winning director died Tuesday morning, March 18 in a London hospital of complications from cancer surgery he had last week, according to news sources.

Minghella was born the second of five children January 6, 1954 in Ryde on the Isle of Wight to Gloria and Edward Minghella, who were renowned for their ice cream factory. He graduated from the University of Hull after which he worked briefly as a university professor.

In the 1980s he turned his hand to writing plays, and the London Theatre Critics named him the Most Promising Playwright of the Year for his 1986 West End play "Made in Bangkok," which explored the sexual mores of a British tour group in Thailand. His other plays include "Whale Music," "Two Planks and a Passion" and "A Little Like Drowning."

Before breaking into film, he worked as a writer and script editor for British television. His directing debut was 1990's "Truly, Madly, Deeply," a bittersweet comedy starring Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson.

He won an Oscar for directing the World War II drama "The English Patient," which won a total of nine Oscars for 1996. A few years later, he received a nomination for the adapted screenplay for "The Talented Mr. Ripley." He also directed "Cold Mountain" and "Breaking and Entering." He also executive produced "Iris," "The Quiet American," "The Interpreter" and "Michael Clayton." In "Atonement," he was heard as the interviewer.

Minghella's latest production, "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency," was a two-hour pilot based on the popular Alexander McCall Smith series about the adventures of Botswanan private eye Precious Ramotswe (Jill Scott). It was set to debut on British television this week. HBO recently picked up 13 more hour-long episodes that were set to begin filming this summer.

In addition, Minghella turned his directing talents to opera, heading the staging of Puccini's "Madama Butterfuly" at the English National Opera in London in 2005. A year later, he staged it for the season opener of New York's Metropolitan Opera.

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honors List. Since 2003, he was chairman of the British Film Institute.

Minghella is survived by his wife, Hong Kong-born choreographer Carolyn Choa, actor son Max ("Syriana," "Art School Confidential") and daughter Hannah, an executive at Sony Pictures.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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