'Birdman of Alcatraz' director dies aged 72

John Frankenheimer, director of Birdman of Alcatraz and The Manchurian Candidate, and winner of four consecutive Emmy awards in the 1990s, died in Beverly Hills yesterday aged 72.

Frankenheimer, who was described during his career as "notoriously difficult" and whose film-making style was described as "guerrilla-like", died of a stroke at the Cedars-Sinai medical centre.

His illness followed complications from spinal surgery.

In Birdman of Alcatraz, Frankenheimer directed Burt Lancaster playing the real-life murderer Robert Stroud, who redeemed himself during a life sentence of solitary confinement by becoming a self-taught expert on bird diseases.

Frankenheimer's career spanned almost 50 years. He was nominated for 14 Emmys and his work included social dramas and political thrillers, including many successful feature films in the 1960s.

He won Emmys for directing cable-television movies. In 1998, his George Wallace film won a Peabody Award and a Golden Globe for best television movie.

"Full bore. You gotta give it everything. You just got to give it everything," he said in a 1998 interview with the Associated Press. "And sometimes that's not even enough."

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