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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 15:42 GMT
Obituary: Minghella's stellar career

Born on the Isle of Wight to Italian parents in 1954, Anthony Minghella went on to become one of Britain's most celebrated film-makers and screenwriters.

Anthony Minghella
Minghella's best director Oscar was a career triumph

His crowning achievement came in 1997, when The English Patient won him the Academy Award for best director - more than 20 years after he began directing on the stage.

The sweeping wartime epic with its breathtaking cinematography won a total of nine Oscars including best film, and was a commercial triumph.

But his entire film career was punctuated by award wins, with 26 major trophies to his credit.

The cinematic outing that put Minghella on the map was heart-rending romantic drama Truly, Madly, Deeply in 1990.

A whimsical ghost story dealing with the effects of bereavement, it was originally a BBC production intended for the small screen.

Three years later, Minghella made his initial foray into Hollywood with Mr Wonderful, which starred Matt Dillon.

Children's television

The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) was another high-profile film which gained Oscar recognition and featured a stellar cast including Jude Law, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett.

Law later starred in Minghella's adaptation of the American Civil War epic Cold Mountain - which bagged Renee Zellweger an Oscar - and 2006's Breaking and Entering.

Anthony Minghella and Kristin Scott-Thomas on location for The English Patient
Minghella with The English Patient star Kristin Scott-Thomas

Minghella, whose parents owned an ice-cream factory on the Isle of Wight, started out as a writer, with some of his early radio plays gaining awards.

His writing later led him into television, with eight episodes of BBC school drama Grange Hill to his credit, as well as several editions of popular crime series Inspector Morse.

In the US, he also wrote for children's television with The Storyteller (1988), which retold fairy tales with the help of puppets from Jim Henson's Muppet workshop.

Minghella remained faithful to writing when he made a splash in Hollywood, penning the adapted screenplay to Ripley and receiving an Oscar nomination for his work on The English Patient.

Keen musician

His latest work as a writer was reworking popular private eye novel The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency for the small screen, which will become a series on both British and American television.

The show's pilot is due to be broadcast on the BBC over Easter.

Aside from his wealth of creative work, Minghella, who was honoured with a CBE in 2001, served as head of the British Film Institute (BFI).

From 2003, he was charged with being a cheerleader for UK cinema and said he believed there was "a good deal to be said for having a practising film-maker at the centre of the BFI's future".

Jude Law and Anthony Minghella
Jude Law starred in three of Anthony Minghella's films

Earlier this month, Minghella stepped down from his role and was replaced by former BBC director general Greg Dyke.

Towards the end of his life his artistic portfolio further increased when he directed his first operatic production - a staging of Madame Butterfly at the English National Opera - in 2005, followed by further forays into music.

Minghella was a keen musician, and said the inclusion of Hungarian folk singer Marta Sebestyen added another dimension to his multi-faceted achievement, The English Patient.

His career as a director remained incomplete - British film The Ninth Life of Louis Drax and New York, I Love You were still in production at the time of his early death.

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