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Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 06:39 GMT
Warren Beatty: Pride of Bafta
Warren Beatty and Annette Bening
Beatty and wife Annette Bening married in 1991
As Hollywood actor and director Warren Beatty is honoured with a Bafta fellowship, BBC News Online looks back at the actor's notable on and off-screen conquests.

Woody Allen was once asked how he would most like to be reincarnated. He replied: "As Warren Beatty's fingertips."
Beatty in brief
1937: Born 30 March
1961: Big break with Splendour in the Grass
1967: Produced and starred in Bonnie and Clyde
1981: Best Director for Reds
1987: Record flop with Ishtar
1992: Became a father
Beatty has notoriously had relationships with a legion of his leading ladies including Natalie Wood, Joan Collins, Leslie Caron, Julie Christie, Diane Keaton, Isabelle Adjani and Madonna. Elizabeth Taylor once said: "Out of 10, I'd give him 15."

So it was something of a surprise when he finally tied the knot with Hollywood actress Annette Bening in 1991, who is about to have their fourth child.

But it will be for his services to film and not to women that Warren Beatty will receive a prestigious fellowship from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

The award will draw welcome attention, particularly from the younger generation of film-goers, to Beatty's cinematic achievements.

Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde
He played glamorous robber Clyde Barrow
Beatty followed his sister, Shirley MacLaine, into the movie business and exploded on to the big screen in 1961 in Elia Kazan's Splendour in the Grass.

His portrayal of a handsome rebel challenging social taboos with Natalie Wood made a huge impression on teenage audiences. By 1967 he was both star and producer in the highly successful Bonnie and Clyde for which he won an Oscar nomination. Increasingly, his name was appearing in the credits for work behind the camera.

As the gigolo hairdresser in Shampoo, he was also co-writer and producer. The film attacked the immorality of the Nixon years and an important element of Warren Beatty's career has been his devotion to the political cause.

Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood was one of many to fall for her co-star
He has been active in Democratic politics since the Kennedy years.

When the Academy president, Robert Rehme, praised Beatty's "courage in producing pictures that many other producers might consider too dangerous", he undoubtedly had in mind - above all - his 1981 film Reds in which he portrayed the US communist John Reed.

At a time when even "liberal" was becoming a dirty word in American politics, Reds was a brave feat which mixed melodrama with interviews with real people.

He was nominated as best writer, producer, actor and director, both for Reds and his previous film Heaven Can Wait - an achievement shared only by Orson Welles for Citizen Kane.

Beatty in role of Bulworth
Beatty has passion for politics both on-screen and off
But it has not all been plain sailing for Beatty. His 1987 comedy Ishtar, in which he sang his way through 26 songs with co-star Dustin Hoffman, was a $40m (25m) flop.

He redeemed himself in the eyes of the Hollywood accountants with Dick Tracy opposite Madonna - allegedly the only leading lady to dump him - and with Bugsy, where he met Annette Bening.

That kind of success helped him persuade Rupert Murdoch to finance Bulworth, his 1998 film devoted to denouncing the corrupting influence of money in US politics.

Off-screen Beatty even toyed last year with the idea of running for the presidency himself.

Beatty in Shampoo
Beatty played a gigolo in Shampoo
According to friends, he was motivated by his conviction that important issues like universal medical insurance, and the exploitation of workers were not receiving enough public attention.

Beatty is a notoriously demanding film-maker, well-known for his multi-take perfectionism.

This may explain why he has spent almost a decade working on a film about that doyenne of self-indulgence, Howard Hughes.

Annette Bening: Beatty's enduring flame
His latest completed movie, Town and Country, with old flame Diane Keaton and Andie MacDowell, nearly doubled its original budget, only to be ridiculed by critics on release.

Yet, Beatty has earned the respect of many Hollywood executives who have, over the years, come to admire his passion, intelligence and charm.

Follow the latest news and features from the Bafta film awards


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