'King Kong' director John Guillermin dies at 89

Los Angeles: British filmmaker John Guillermin, known for directing the 1976 hit 'King Kong' and the disaster classic 'The Towering Inferno', has died. He was 89.

Guillermin, who also helmed the famed Agatha Christie whodunit 'Death on the Nile' (1978), died Sunday of a heart attack at his home in Topanga, California, reported Entertainment Weekly.

Guillermin's wife Mary called her husband "sensitive and passionate, full of a fierce rapture himself," in a Facebook post.

Guillermin's friend, Nick Redman of Twilight Time Movies, which released several of his films on DVD said, "He was a tough man but a very charming man. He was every inch the Hollywood director, the Hollywood figure, but he had very much a European sensibility.

"He was a very urbane person, and he made some great movies." As a director, Guillermin was best known for action and adventure tales such as 'Shaft in Africa', 'Death on the Nile', 'El Condor', 'Skyjacked', 'Sheena', and the sequel to his 1976 hit, 'King Kong Lives'.

Over the course of his career, he worked with actors including Orson Welles, Paul Newman, Jessica Lange, Fred Astaire, Peter O'Toole, and Faye Dunaway.

Born in London, Guillermin studied at the University of Cambridge and served in the Royal Air Force before beginning his directing career in France, as a documentary filmmaker.

He helmed his first feature, 'Torment' (also known as 'Paper Gallows'), in 1950. 'The Towering Inferno', which released in 1973, won Oscars for Best Original Song, Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography, in addition to Golden Globes for Fred Astaire and Susan Flannery.

The film also starred Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden and Faye Dunaway. Guillermin dabbled in writing and production with 'Melody in the Dark', 'High Jinks in Society' and 'Paper Gallows'.

His other writing credits include 'Tarzan's Greatest Adventure' and 'Tarzan Goes to India'. He is survived by his wife and a daughter.

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