Legendary director Robert Altman has died in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 81. The seven-time Oscar nominee, who picked up an honorary Academy Award earlier this year (06), passed away last night (20NOV06). No cause of death has yet been given. Born in Kansas City, Missouri on 25 February 1925, Altman had a successful career in television before his movie MASH became a box office phenomenon in 1970, spawning the long-running TV series of the same name. Throughout the 1970s, the prolific filmmaker delivered a string of critically acclaimed movies including MCCABE + MRS MILLER, The Long Goodbye, CALIFORNIA SPLIT and NASHVILLE. Altman's career waned in the 1980s, before re-surging in the early 1990s with the huge ensemble casts of The Player and Short Cuts, a style he pioneered with Nashville in 1975 and A WEDDING three years later (78). The 2001 movie Gosford Park was both a critical and commercial success; his most recent film, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, was released earlier this year (06). Altman made his London theatrical debut in early 2006, directing Arthur Miller's play RESURRECTION BLUES at the Old Vic in London under artistic director Kevin Spacey. Altman once vowed he would work for the rest of his life: "Retirement? You're talking about death, right?" Twice divorced, Altman is survived by his third wife KATHRYN REED, who he married in 1959, and five children including his son STEPHEN ALTMAN, who has worked as a production designer on many of his movies.