Lewis Gilbert, a British film director, screenwriter, and producer, passed away in his sleep on February 23, after battling dementia for the past ten years. His son, John Gilbert, confirmed to BBC that the director  "died peacefully in his sleep." He was 97.

Gilbert was renowned for directing three James Bond films, 'You Only Live Twice' (1967), 'The Spy Who Loved Me' (1977), and 'Moonraker' (1979) as well as character dramas like 'Alfie' (1966) that starred Michael Caine and was nominated for five Academy Awards, 'Educating Rita' (1983), and 'Shirley Valentine' (1989).

The Spy Who Loved Me, Twitter
A poster for Lewis Gilbert's 'The Spy Who Loved Me' (Twitter)

Gilbert, born in 1920, started his career making documentary films in the Royal Air Force's film unit during the Second World War. he continued to make documentaries after the war ended, before turning to films based on true stories from the war, such as 'Reach for the Sky' (1956), 'Carve Her Name with Pride' (1958), and 'Sink the Bismarck!' (1960).

He mentioned in a 2010 interview on 'Desert Island Discs,' a BBC Radio 4 show, that his biggest regret was declining the offer to direct Lionel Bart's 1967 musical 'Oliver!' due to his contractual obligation to Paramount. The musical went on to be directed by Carol Reed, and won six out of eleven nominations at the 1968 Academy Awards.

Gilbert's son, who worked alongside him in film, told BBC, "He was a wonderful man with a great sense of humour. He was hard-working and we worked on many films together." According to his son, he passed away in his sleep in Monaco, his home since 1975, after "suffering from dementia for close to a decade."

Executive Producer on 'Moonraker,' Michael G. Wilson, and Producer of eight James Bond films, Barbara Broccoli, paid tribute in a statement that read, "It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of our dear friend Lewis Gilbert. Lewis was a true gentleman. He made an enormous contribution to the British film industry as well as the Bond films. His films are not only loved by us but are considered classics within the series. He will be sorely missed."

Gilbert's last film, 'Before You Go,' was released in 2002, and he released an autobiography titled 'All My Flashbacks: The Autobiography of Lewis Gilbert Sixty Years a Film Director' in 2010. His late wife, Hylda Tafler, passed away in 2005 after 53 years of marriage. Celebrities like 'Baby Driver' director Edgar Wright, 'Ant-Man' director Peyton Reed, and comedian David Walliams paid tribute to the late director on Twitter.


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