Peter Ustinov dies of heart failure

Mar 29, 2004 by Ian Evans

Peter Ustinov, who once said his ideal epitaph would be “Keep off the grass”, has died at the age of 82.

The Oscar®-winning British actor and playwright died of heart failure Sunday night in a clinic near his Lake Geneva home. He had been ill since shortly after Christmas.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was among the many to pay the humourous humanitarian tribute when he said that Ustinov “…was a role model for us all, not only as a great actor and artist…but above all as a man with a great heart, spirit and humor.”

UNICEF, an organization Ustinov had long been associated with called him one of their most efective and beloved partners.

Still active as an actor, Ustinov, who won Oscars for his work in Spartacus and Topkapi, finished his last film in 2003.

Able to spin great yarns in half a dozen languages, Ustinov had success as a playwright, novelist, film director, academic and peace activist. Just recently the University of Vienna opened its Ustinov Institute, which was dedicated to studying prejudice and its impact on people, politics and conflict resolution.

Peter Ustinov wrote his first play at 19 and made his feature film debut when he was 25. One of his most loved characters was the Agatha Christie detective Hercule Poirot.