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British film star John Mills dead at 97

April 25, 2005 at 12:17 PM

LONDON, April 25 (UPI) -- A veteran of more than 100 films, British actor John Mills has died of pneumonia at his west London home at the age of 97, the Guardian reported.

Mills, who won an Oscar for his role in "Ryan's Daughter," died peacefully Sunday, a family spokesman said in a statement.

Mills made his stage debut in 1929 as a chorus boy, and went on to a career that spanned 73 years. He performed in many World War II British patriotic films, having been released from military service himself in 1941 due to an ulcer.

Despite suffering deafness and near blindness, he continued working, last playing a coke-snorting cameo role in 2003's "Bright Young Things," and performing at a 100th birthday pageant for the Queen Mother.

Actors and directors joined tributes to Mills, whose closest friends included Laurence Olivier and the legendary Noel Coward, who first spotted his talent.

Mills is survived by his wife, playwright Mary Hayley Bell, his son, Jonathan, and daughters Juliette and Hayley, both actors.

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