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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Tributes to 'wonderful' Ustinov
Sir Peter Ustinov
Sir Peter was hailed for his Unicef work
Celebrities from the world of the arts and film have paid tribute to the actor Sir Peter Ustinov who has died aged 82.

Director Michael Winner led the tributes, describing him as "witty and urbane and charming".

"Peter's most outstanding achievement was to be Peter Ustinov," the director told the BBC's One O'Clock News.

"And he was an all-round wonderful person. I'm very glad to have known him, I shall miss him greatly," Winner said of the actor.

Winner said the last time he saw him, at a film-makers' tribute to Stanley Kubrick, he was surprised at how frail the veteran actor was.

'Brilliant'

But he got to the podium, and he delivered a speech where he imitated everybody at the first script read-through of Spartacus, he did Oliver and Kirk Douglas.

"And it was without question the most brilliant 12 minutes I've ever seen anyone do in my life.

Lord Richard Attenborough paid tribute to Sir Peter's story-telling talents.

"He was a superb raconteur - never vicious, never cruel."

And veteran BBC presenter Michael Parkinson, who has interviewed Sir Peter on his BBC One TV show, said: "A very civilised and engaging human being, Peter was also a good writer and actor, a wonderful raconteur and as such, God's gift to the talk show host.

Michael Parkinson
He was quite obviously one of the greatest all-rounders of our time
Michael Parkinson
"When I look back at those I've interviewed, he's in my top five. It was an honour to meet him, and all that aside he was just an exceedingly nice man."

Former James Bond Sir Roger Moore said Sir Peter was "extraordinarily talented".

"Peter also had a talent to help others less fortunate, particularly children," he said. "Ustinov the showman was Ustinov. That was Ustinov the man."

Actor David Suchet, who played Hercule Poirot on television, said: "He was always generous, kind and very supportive.

"We have not only lost a very fine actor, but also a great wit, raconteur and personality."

Actress Jenny Agutter, who appeared with Ustinov in the film Logan's Run, said: "He was an extraordinarily wonderful person to work with.

"At 21 you are quite vulnerable. He gave me a sort of strength and showed me that Hollywood could be a family and fun.

"He had a great sense of the good in people. He enjoyed the peculiarities that were part of humanity," she said.

Jenny Agutter
What I remember most about him was his generosity of spirit
Jenny Agutter
"Filming can be desperately boring and he was always telling fantastic stories and being tremendously entertaining."

Actor David Soul, best known for his role in 1970s US TV police drama Starsky and Hutch, called Sir Peter "one of the great story tellers of modern times".

"I had an incredible opportunity to work with him and spent many hours sitting in a seat listening to him tell his myriad of stories," he said.

"He was one of the great story tellers of modern times. The biggest shame is that we have so few people left these days who really tell stories."

Sir Peter's biographer Jonathan Miller said: "He had an extraordinarily varied career.

"He had enough careers for about six other men. He was an actor, director, writer, screenwriter, novelist, playwright, did all that work for the United Nations as well."

Mr Miller added: "He always said that he acted for a living and wrote because he must, but I am convinced that he also performed because he must."

'Devastated'

(He was) jack of all trades, master of none - but what a jack
Film critic Derek Malcolm
British actress Jean Simmons, who appeared in Spartacus with him, also paid tribute.

"I am absolutely devastated to hear of the death of one of our finest actors, and a very close personal friend," she said.

"Peter was the only person for whom I would agree to be a guest on This Is Your Life, and it was a joy to be a part of that programme. I will miss his humour and friendship greatly."

Film critic Derek Malcolm described him as a "jack of all trades, master of none - but what a jack!"

"In the end he was a disappointed man," he said. "He wanted to be a great playwright or a great author. He never quite made that."

Former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali said Sir Peter had been an "excellent" goodwill ambassador for Unicef, the UN children's fund.

He told Sky News: "He was among the first ambassadors who played a very important role.

'Optimist'

"When you have the capacity to have an influence on the public, through movies or theatre, it isn't difficult to have the same experience to solve the humanitarian problem."

Sir Peter's agent, Steve Kenis, said: "He would always see the bright side of something, even something that would be very annoying to him or to all of us around him.

"He would get over it and he would always find that there was something positive to be gained from it. He was a giver, throughout everything, and a wonderful warm person."

Mr Kenis also said he was proud of his Russian heritage. "He always said that although he was born in London he was conceived in St Petersburg."

He will be remembered with great affection for the generosity of spirit he gave to the university
Sir Kenneth Calman, Durham University

Richard Fitzwilliams, former editor of International Who's Who, said Sir Peter was "such entertaining company".

"He was a man for all seasons, perhaps the true renaissance man," he said.

Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University where Sir Peter was chancellor, said it had lost "an outstanding friend and ambassador".

"He will be remembered with great affection and appreciation for the wisdom and humour and the generosity of spirit that he gave to the university.

"He will be missed not only by the staff and students, but also by the huge family of graduates and their relations who enjoyed his unique contribution to our degree ceremonies."





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