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Director Robert Altman dead at 81

Nov. 21, 2006 at 1:41 PM

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Movie director Robert Altman has died at a Los Angeles hospital at the age of 81.

Altman's massive body of work ranged from "M*A*S*H" to "Gosford Park" and he was nominated for seven Academy Awards -- five in the Best Director category -- but never won until accepting a Lifetime Achievement Oscar this year.

In his acceptance speech for the award he revealed to the world that he had had a heart transplant some 10 years earlier from a woman several decades younger.

"I didn't make a big secret out of it, but I thought nobody would hire me again. You know, there's such a stigma about heart transplants, and there's a lot of us out there," he said at the time.

His production company -- Sandcastle 5 Productions Company -- confirmed that Altman died Monday night. The cause of death has not been made public.

Altman directed 86 films and wrote the scripts for 37 of them.