British filmmaker Lewis Gilbert has died at the age of 97, James Bond producers said of the director famed for his work on three 007 movies.
"It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of our dear friend Lewis Gilbert," producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said Tuesday, describing the director as "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," the added.
Gilbert directed Sean Connery in the 1967 "You Only Live Twice", returning to the British film series a decade later with "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) and "Moonraker" (1979) starring Roger Moore.
While most well-known for his work on the spy series, Gilbert also directed a young Michael Caine in the 1966 movie "Alfie" which gained four Oscar nominations.
Born in east London in 1920, Gilbert's first directing credit came in 1945 with "The 10 Year Plan", a documentary about postwar housing.
After a lengthy career including production and writing roles, his last of 33 directing credits came in 2002 with "Before You Go".
"The BFI salutes the most prolific of British filmmakers," said Heather Stewart, creative director of the British Film Institute which had awarded Gilbert a fellowship for outstanding contribution to British film.
Stewart praised the late director for telling stories of British wartime bravery, to creating working class heroes and "funny and real character studies of women" rarely seen on screen.
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