British film director Clive Donner dies at 84

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Film director Clive Donner, who helped launch the careers of actors such as Sir Ian McKellen and Alan Bates, has died at the age of 84.

He had Alzheimer's and died in London, his family said.

He was best known for a series of 1960s films including Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and What's New Pussycat.

Donner then moved to Los Angeles to work in TV, where his credits included an adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Sir Ian and Jane Seymour.

He also directed TV adaptations of Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol and spoof movie, Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen, starring Peter Ustinov, Angie Dickinson and Michelle Pfeiffer.

What's New Pussycat, which was released in 1965, featured Peter Sellers, Peter O'Toole, Woody Allen and Ursula Andress in the leading roles.

Career boost

Allen also wrote the screenplay, while Burt Bacharach composed the music.

Donner's cousin Gavin Asher said the director began his career at Pinewood Studios when he was 15 years old.

"One of the things he was most proud of was what he did for the careers of quite a lot of British actors including Alan Bates, David Hemmings and Ian McKellen," said Asher.

"A lot of them went on to eclipse his fame and success but he was very giving in that sense."

Donner's wife, costume designer Jocelyn Rickards, died five years ago. They had no children.

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