(Dennis Mclellan’s article first appeared in the LA Times, 3/30/04; via Pam Green.)

Peter Ustinov, the two-time Academy Award-winning British character actor whose film roles ranged from Emperor Nero to Agatha Christie's Belgian master detective Hercule Poirot, has died. He was 82.

Ustinov, a longtime international goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, died of heart failure Sunday night in a clinic in Genolier, Switzerland, near his longtime home in Bursins overlooking Lake Geneva.

In a stage and film career spanning more than 60 years, the versatile Ustinov earned international recognition as an actor, director, producer, playwright and novelist.

On screen, the portly actor was known for his genius in assuming different ethnic accents and personalities in many of the nearly 70 films in which he appeared. He won his supporting actor Oscars for the role of the gladiator-school owner in "Spartacus" (1960) and the part of a small-time British black marketeer in Turkey in "Topkapi" (1964).

http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-86330688/

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