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Chariots Of Fire and Star Trek actor Ben Cross dies aged 72 after a short illness 

Chariots Of Fire star Ben Cross has died aged 72. 

The actor had been lauded for his portrayal of British Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams in the 1981 film, which won four Oscars including best picture. 

He also played Sarek in the 2009 reboot film Star Trek.

Mr Cross died early on Tuesday morning in Vienna, his family confirmed to Deadline. 

A statement from his representatives said: ‘Ben passed away suddenly today following a short illness. He had just finished shooting The Devil’s Light for Lionsgate and later this year will be seen in Last Letter From Your Lover in a leading role.’ 

Mr Cross, an English stage and film actor, married three times, and is survived by his wife Deyana Boneva Cross and his three children. 

In October 2014 he had become a grandfather.

Always remembered: Chariots Of Fire star Ben Cross has died aged 72 following a short illness (pictured in 2009) 

Iconic role: Ben was an English stage and film actor, best known for his portrayal of the British Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams in the 1981 film Chariots Of Fire (pictured left in 1981)

Iconic role: Ben was an English stage and film actor, best known for his portrayal of the British Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams in the 1981 film Chariots Of Fire (pictured left in 1981) 

Science fiction: Ben starred as Sarek in 2009 reboot film Star Trek

Science fiction: Ben starred as Sarek in 2009 reboot film Star Trek

A post on his Facebook page, which claims to be written by his daughter Lauren, said Cross experienced a ‘rapid decline’ in the last week.

It said: ‘I am utterly heartbroken to share with you that my darling father died a few hours ago.

‘He had been sick for a while but there was a rapid decline over the past week.

‘The press will be announcing his death soon, I just wanted you all, his most loyal and loving fans, to hear it from us first.

‘Thank you for all your support over the years. He really enjoyed interacting with you.’

Family: Ben is survived by his wife Deyana Boneva Cross and his three children (pictured at the Chariots Of Fire at The Empire Leicester Square on July 10, 2012)

Family: Ben is survived by his wife Deyana Boneva Cross and his three children (pictured at the Chariots Of Fire at The Empire Leicester Square on July 10, 2012)

The actor was born Harry Bernard Cross, in London, to a working class Catholic family, with Irish ancestry. 

Ben initially worked in various jobs, including work as a joiner and window cleaner. 

In 1970, aged 22, he was accepted into London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. 

In 1977, Cross became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed in the premiere of Privates on Parade as Kevin Cartwright.

Ben’s path to Hollywood stardom began a year later with his role as lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago.

During the actor’s performance, he was recognised and recommended for a leading role in the multiple Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire. 

Talented actor: Ben pictured in the The Flame Trees of Thika in 1981

Talented actor: Ben pictured in the The Flame Trees of Thika in 1981 

Hollywood star: Since his Chariots of Fire success Ben has cultivated a varied career as an actor, director, writer and musician

Hollywood star: Since his Chariots of Fire success Ben has cultivated a varied career as an actor, director, writer and musician

For their performances in the film, Cross and his co-star Ian Charleson both won Most Promising Artiste of 1981 awards from the Variety Club Awards in February 1982.

Since his Chariots of Fire success Ben has cultivated a varied career as an actor, director, writer and musician. 

Chariots of Fire told the story- based on true events- of two runners in the 1924 Olympics. 

Eric Liddell, played by Ian Charleson, is a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God.

Ben played Harold, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice.

Abrahams eventually wins the gold medal in the Olympic 100 metre race, while Liddell is triumphant in the 400 metres, bringing the British team a glorious victory. 

Directed by Hugh Hudson and written by Colin Welland, Chariots of Fire was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture.

It is ranked 19th in the British Film Institute’s list of Top 100 British films.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk