British film director Ken Russell has died in his sleep, aged 84.
Russell’s storied life began in 1927 in the British port town of Southampton, as the son of a shoe shop owner. His violent father often forced Russell and his mother to retreat to a local cinema, which is where the young Ken Russell’s love of film was born.
His career took in stints at the BBC (for eleven years, during which he created of artful documentaries) and saw him direct and produce a long list of films that showcased his flamboyant style. One of this films, The Devils …, will be released next year – 42 years after it was banned for a scene between Oliver Reed and Venessa Redgrave sexualising the crucifixion.
However, Russell is perhaps most famous as the director behind 1969’s Oscar-winning Women in Love. The film, an adaptation of DH Lawrence’s novel, clinched a Best Actress Oscar for Glenda Jackson, as well as nominations for cinematography, screenwriting and Russell’s direction.
His most successful commerical project was Tommy, his version of The Who’s rock opera. For many years, he disappeared from the public spotlight, before materializing on the fifth edition of Celebrity Big Brother in the UK. He walked out on the show after a disagreement with the late Jade Goody.
Russell was married four times, and leaves five children: Xavier, James, Alexander, Victoria and Toby.