'Longest Day' director dies at 94

The Associated PressApril 24, 2009 

— Ken Annakin, the British-born director whose credits included the World WarII epics "Battle of the Bulge" and "The Longest Day" and the family classic "Swiss Family Robinson," has died. He was 94.

Annakin died Wednesday night at his Beverly Hills home, said his daughter, Deborah Peters. His health had been failing since he had a heart attack and stroke within a day of each other in February, she said.

Before he was stricken, Annakin had been in good health and always talked about making more movies, even though he had not directed since the early 1990s, his daughter said.

"He was absolutely fine, other than old age," Peters said. "He was walking and mobile, chatting and working, still trying to get films made. I don't think anybody like that ever really stops."

Annakin dabbled in many genres, from action comedies and family fare to crime drama and swashbuckling romance. He was best-known for his war sagas, 1965's "Battle of the Bulge" with Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Robert Shaw and Telly Savalas and 1962's "The Longest Day," which he co-directed with Andrew Marton and Bernhard Wicki.

Adapted from Cornelius Ryan's D-Day best-seller, "The Longest Day" featured an all-star cast led by Fonda, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger, Sean Connery and Peter Lawford.

Annakin's other films include "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines," whose screenplay earned him an Academy Award nomination, and the similarly titled action comedy "Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies." He also directed "Call of the Wild," a 1972 adaptation of Jack London's adventure starring Charlton Heston; the 1957 crime thriller "Across the Bridge" with Steiger; and the 1982 musical romance "The Pirate Movie" with Kristy McNichol.

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