Tributes have poured in for director Robert Altman, who died on Monday (20NOV06) from complications related to cancer. Meryl Streep, Elliot Gould, Richard Gere, Tim Robbins and SOPHIE LOREN - all of whom starred in Altman's films - have praised the auteur, who passed away in a Los Angeles hospital at the age of 81. Gould, who starred in M*A*S*H, says, "He was the last great American director in the tradition of John Ford." MERYL STREEP, the star of Altman's last movie A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, adds, "What a gent, what a guy, what a great heart. "Bob's restless spirit has moved on. I have to say, when I spoke with him last week, he seemed impatient for the future. He still had the generous, optimistic appetite for the next thing, and we planned the next film laughing in anticipation of the laughs we'd have." DR T AND THE WOMEN star Gere says, "There's no-one I'm prouder to have worked with. He was an ecstatic ... a magician ... a conjurer ... a mischievous boy. "He understood and could express that uniquely American shapeshifting goofiness more than anyone. He was the deepest ocean and the lightest feather at the same time. We all loved him so much." Tim Robbins, who worked with Altman in The Player, Short Cuts and PRET-A-PORTER, calls Altman, "A great friend and inspiration to me since I had the honour of meeting him in 1990". Pret-a-Porter actress Loren says, "I am extremely sad. Another giant has left us." Kevin Spacey, who put on a Altman-directed production of Arthur Miller play RESURRECTION BLUES at the London theatre he is artistic director of, says, "Robert Altman was a truly unique director and an extraordinary man. "We are all saddened by this news and send our condolences to his wife Kathryn and family."