Page last updated at 08:28 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Mockingbird director dies aged 83

Robert Mulligan
Mulligan began his career directing in TV before moving into film

Oscar-nominated director Robert Mulligan, best known for his classic 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird, has died aged 83.

He passed away on Saturday at his home in Connecticut after a battle with heart disease, his wife Sandy said.

Mulligan was also credited with discovering Reese Witherspoon.

She auditioned as an extra for his 1991 movie The Man in the Moon. Mulligan was so impressed he offered the actress, then 14, the lead instead.

He was nominated for an Oscar for Mockingbird, the adaptation of Harper Lee's best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
The movie starred Gregory Peck, who won the best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch.

In 2003, an American Film Institute listed Peck's character number one in a poll of top film heroes.

Speaking to the New York Post in 1961, Mulligan said: "The big danger in making a movie of To Kill a Mockingbird is in thinking of this as a chance to jump on the segregation-integration soapbox.

"The book does not make speeches. It is not melodramatic."

The story is largely told from the point of view of Atticus' young daughter, Scout, played by Mary Badham.

His other credits included Fear Strikes Out, Summer of '42 and The Other, as well as TV dramas.

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