The Canadian director of the groundbreaking film passed away in Beverly Hills on Thursday

By Lindsay Kimble
Updated April 15, 2015 09:15 AM
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Credit: Norman James/Getty

Visionary Canadian director Paul Almond has died due to complications from a heart attack in Beverly Hills, California, on Thursday, according to his son Matthew. He was 83.

Almond was best known for directing the groundbreaking television film Seven Up!, which examined the lives of a group of British children who were later followed for a documentary series into middle age.

The renowned, short black-and-white documentary followed 14 7-year-olds from across the British socioeconomic spread. In the original film, 10 boys and four girls answer Almond’s questions about family, love and personal goals. The idea for the series is said to have been formulated while Almond and producer Tim Hewat were discussing the class system in an English pub.

Almond conceptualized the original installment, which made its debut on British TV in 1964. Seven Up! was originally intended to be a one-off feature, but it later became a series, known generally as the Up Series, directed by Michael Apted.

The later installments visited the original children at seven-year intervals, with the most recent, 56 Up, released in 2012. While Almond remained uninvolved with the continued segments, his indelible mark and contribution can be seen in the format of each portion.

Almond was also noted for his Canadian art-house film and the novels he wrote later in life. He directed several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and a version of Macbeth for Canadian TV in 1961, which starred a young, virtually unknown Sean Connery.

The director is survived by his third wife, a son, three stepsons, a stepdaughter and eight grandchildren.