Hugh Hudson, 'Chariots Of Fire' Director, Dead at 86

Hugh Hudson

Hudson's family shared that he died Friday at a hospital in London following a short illness.

Hugh Hudson, the director behind the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, has died. He was 86.

According to multiple reports, Hudson's family released a statement confirming the tragic news, saying Hudson died Friday at a hospital in London following a short illness. Before becoming the director of the 1981 film that was nominated for seven Academy Awards -- winning four for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Costume Design -- Hudson made commercials.

That job would eventually lead him to becoming a second unit director on the Alan Parker-directed 1978 drama Midnight Express. Three years later, he landed Chariots of Fire, the inspiring true story of two British athletes at the 1924 Olympics.

"I think David Puttnam [the producer] chose me because he sensed I'd relate to the themes of class and racial prejudice," Hudson once told The Guardian in 2012. "I'd been sent to Eton because my family had gone there for generations, but I hated all the prejudice. The scriptwriter, Colin Welland, a working-class boy from Merseyside, understood it perfectly, too. So it was a personal story for us."

The film would go on to also earn 11 British Academy Awards, winning three including for Best Film. The British Film Institute lists Chariots of Fire at No. 19 on its list of Top 100 British Films.

Hudson would go on to direct Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Revolution, My Life So Far and I Dreamed of Africa

He was born in 1936 in London and attended boarding school before attending Eton College in Berkshire, England. He served in the national guard with the Dragoon Guards. He worked in advertising before taking a stab at documentaries and producing TV commercials, and it was that kind of work that reportedly got Puttnam's attention to get him to direct Chariots of Fire.

Hudson is survived by his wife, former James Bond star Maryam D'Abo, their son, Thomas, and his first wife, the painter Susan Michie.