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John Schlesinger CBE (1926 -- 2003)

The London-born director, John Schlesinger, tried an impressive range of subjects, and worked in television, theatre and opera as well as film. At Oxford University, he acted in student productions and after a brief stint in the army began work as an actor, soon turning to directing.

He contributed to British cinema's new wave with A Kind of Loving (1962) starring Alan Bates, Billy Liar (1963) with Tom Courtenay, and Darling (1965), for which the young Julie Christie won an Oscar®. She also starred alongside Terence Stamp in Schlesinger's 1967 adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd (1967). Schlesinger won international acclaim, and an Oscar® of his own, for Midnight Cowboy (1969), shot in New York, starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.

After this, he worked variously in the US or UK, making Sunday Bloody Sunday (1972), Marathon Man (1976), in which Laurence Olivier's Nazi drills Dustin Hoffman's teeth, Yanks (1979), Pacific Heights (1990) and others. Often his films revealed a dark side of life, featuring cowards as well as heroes, failure as much as success.

His last film was The Next Best Thing (2000), starring Madonna. Soon after its completion, he suffered a stroke and never fully recovered. He passed away at hospital in Palm Springs, California, aged 77, in July 2003.