Michael Anderson, Oscar-nominated director of ‘Around the World in 80 Days,’ dies at 98


Michael Anderson, whose direction on “Around the World in 80 Days” in 1956 earned him an Academy Award nomination, has died.

The director died of heart disease Wednesday at his home on the Sunshine Coast of Canada, his family said in a statement Saturday. He was 98.

Born in London in 1920 to a theatrical family, Anderson began his seven-decade career in the 1930s as an actor, before eventually moving behind the camera. Anderson began directing in earnest in 1949 with “Private Angelo,” a film co-written and co-directed with Peter Ustinov.


In 1955, Anderson directed “The Dam Busters,” a war drama starring Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave. The British Film Institute later named it one of the best British films of the 20th century.

One year later, Anderson broke through stateside, helming “Around the World in 80 Days,” which starred David Niven and won an Academy Award for best picture.

An adaptation of the Jules Verne novel, the film starred Niven as Phileas Fogg, an English gentleman who wagers he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days and along the way runs into a cavalcade of characters – played by various film stars, including iconic Mexican actor Cantinflas.

The movie earned eight Oscar nominations, including a nomination for Anderson as director. “Around the World in 80 Days” ultimately won five Oscars, though Anderson was edged out by George Stevens, director of “Giant.”

Anderson directed more than 35 films, including “The Wreck of the Mary Deare,” “Operation Crossbow,” “All the Fine Young Cannibals,” and “The Quiller Memorandum.”


He also directed the 1976 sci-fi cult classic “Logan’s Run,” a tale of a dystopian future where consumption of resources is curbed by killing everyone at the age of 30.

Anderson was a man of the world, speaking four languages fluently – English, French, German and Italian – a reflection of his life spent living in Europe, the United States and Canada.

He is survived by his third wife, actress Adrienne Ellis; his son Michael Anderson Jr.; and his stepchildren, actress Laurie Holden and Christopher Holden; as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

On Saturday morning, Laurie Holden, a former star of “The Walking Dead” who now appears on “The Americans,” tweeted about her stepfather, who married her mother 40 years ago.

“I will miss him everyday. He was the kindest human being I’ve ever known in my life. He taught me how to be more compassionate and to embrace a higher spiritual self through his example,” Holden wrote. “He blessed my life. I am forever grateful for his love and guidance.”

A memorial service for friends and family is scheduled for this summer at Anderson’s Canadian home. To honor Anderson’s legacy, his family requests donations to the Famous People Players in Toronto, a nonprofit black-light puppetry theater company that employs people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Twitter: @midwestspitfire