Lewis Gilbert, Director of James Bond Hits ‘Moonraker’ and ‘You Only Live Twice,’ Dies at 97

British filmmaker also directed “Alfie” and “Educating Rita”

Lewis Gilbert

Lewis Gilbert, the Oscar-nominated British filmmaker whose credits include “Alfie” and three James Bond titles, died on Feb. 23. He was 97.

The Directors Guild of America released a statement on Tuesday, which read, “The DGA mourns the passing of Lewis Gilbert whose more than 70-year legacy as a film director has served as an inspiration to so many. Not limiting himself to any one genre, Gilbert found strength in tackling a diverse slate of films; from war dramas like ‘Sink the Bismarck!’ to light comedies like ‘Alfie’ – both earning him DGA Award nominations for Outstanding Directing in Feature Film. But his most enduring impact may be his three iconic James Bond films in the 1960s and 70s; ‘You Only Live Twice,’ ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and ‘Moonraker,’ where his wit and sly humor elevated the genre.  He will be deeply missed.”

Gilbert’s Bond titles include “You Only Live Twice,” “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker.” “Alfie” won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966 and scored five Oscar nominations including Best Picture. His other films include “Sink the Bismark,” “Educating Rita” and “Shirley Valentine.”

Born in London in 1920, Gilbert became a child actor in the 1920s and 1930s, landing a role in Victor Hanbury and John Stafford’s “Dick Turpin” in 1933. At the age of 17, he starred uncredited in “The Divorce of Lady X” opposite Laurence Olivier, but later decided to study directing and assisted during the production of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Jamaica Inn.”

At the beginning of World War II, he joined the Royal Air Force’s film unit where he worked on several documentary films. After the war, he continued to make doc shorts and later made a name for himself in feature film production with films based on true stories from the war.

Gilbert made “Alfie” in 1966. He was awarded the CBE in 1997 and in 2001, Lewis Gilbert was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute — the highest accolade given out in the British film industry.