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"Stepford Wives" film director Bryan Forbes dies aged 86

LONDON (Reuters) - British film director Bryan Forbes, whose work included the 1970s psychological thriller "The Stepford Wives" and "International Velvet", has died aged 86, friends said.

"The great British film director, Bryan Forbes, has died - a titan of cinema and an awesome force of screen, theatre, entertainment," British journalist and family friend Matthew d'Ancona wrote on Twitter.

Forbes was married to British actress Nanette Newman and had two daughters, TV presenter Emma Forbes and journalist Sarah Standing.

"Very sad to hear that Bryan Forbes died. He was an iconic figure of the British film industry," actress Joan Collins said on Twitter. "My heart goes out to Nanette, Sarah and Emma."

Forbes was born John Theobald Clarke in east London in 1926 and made his screen acting debut in 1948. He landed supporting parts in several notable British films including "An Inspector Calls" and "The Colditz Story".

He set up Beaver Films in 1959 with director Richard Attenborough. Forbes wrote their first film, "The Angry Silence", which featured Attenborough in the lead role and was nominated for an Oscar in 1961 and won a BAFTA.

His directing career began in 1961 with "Whistle Down the Wind", featuring child star Hayley Mills, but his best known films internationally were "The Stepford Wives", based on the novel by Ira Levin in 1975, and the horse-racing sequel "International Velvet", starring Tatum O'Neal in 1978.

Forbes directed many films in the 1960s and early 1970s, including "The Raging Moon", which starred his wife Newman, who he married in 1955. He was also a prolific screenwriter, enjoying success with the 1960 film "The League of Gentlemen" and more recently with "Chaplin" in 1992.

In 1969 he took over as head of production and managing director of EMI-MGM Elstree, and under his tenure the studio achieved notable successes with "The Railway Children" and "Tales of Beatrix Potter".

Forbes counted Britain's late Queen Mother among his friends and, apart from directing, acting and screenwriting, was also a novelist who published several books including "The Soldier's Story" about the uneasy post-war peace of occupied Germany, which was published last year.

Forbes told the Daily Mail last year that he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1975 before doctors later admitted they had made a mistake.

(Reporting by Paul Casciato, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

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