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A celebration of Ustinov

November 19, 2004|From Associated Press

LONDON — They laughed as they recalled his talent for mimicking world leaders. And they paid tribute to his humanitarian efforts.

Peter Ustinov -- actor, writer and raconteur -- was remembered with affection during a service Thursday at the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

More than 600 people, including stars such as Ben Kingsley, Glenda Jackson and Terence Stamp, gathered to celebrate the life of Ustinov, who died of heart failure in March at 82.

Ustinov is buried in Switzerland, where he had lived for more than 30 years.

Stamp, who starred with Ustinov in the 1962 film "Billy Budd," summarized the actor's life with a tribute from the writer Robert Louis Stevenson: "He has achieved success, he has lived well, laughed often and loved much."

"My first impression of Peter was of a large man sitting in a small chair," Stamp recalled. "The strength of his presence was such that all the things I wanted to say were squashed in my throat."

There was laughter as other speakers recalled Ustinov's talent for imitating world leaders and his ability to speak several languages.

The service also featured music performed by the Russian National Orchestra and a solo by cellist Steven Isserlis.

Ustinov won Oscars for 1960's "Spartacus" and 1964's "Topkapi." He garnered acclaim for his portrayal of the cruel emperor Nero in "Quo Vadis" (1951) and the quirky detective Hercule Poirot in adaptations of Agatha Christie's mystery novels.

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