Sir Peter Ustinov, a brilliant wit and mimic who won two Oscars for an acting career that ranged from the evil Nero in Quo Vadis to the quirky Agatha Christie detective Hercule Poirot, has died. He was 82. He died of heart failure Sunday, March 28, 2004, in a Genolier clinic near his home at Bursins, Switzerland. Ustinov made some 90 movies and also wrote books and plays. He directed films, plays and operas. His narration of Tchaikovsky's Peter and the Wolf won him a Grammy. Among his film roles were a nomad in the outback who befriends a family in The Sundowners, a one-eyed slave in The Egyptian, Inspector Poirot in Death on the Nile, and Abdi Aga, an illiterate tyrant with pretensions of learning in Memed My Hawk. Ustinov won best supporting actor Oscars as Batiatus, owner of the gladiator school in Spartacus (1960), and as Arthur Simpson, an English black marketeer in Turkey who gets caught up in a jewel heist in Topkapi (1965). His Nero won him a Golden Globe for best supporting actor in the 1951 movie Quo Vadis. He also won three TV Emmys, portraying the English lexicographer Samuel Johnson in Dr. Johnson and Socrates in Barefoot in Athens. In A Storm in Summer, his Emmy came for playing an aged Jewish deli owner in Long Island at grips with racial prejudice in the shape of a proud black youth. He also devoted himself to the world's children for more than 30 years as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.
AP/Heribert Proepper, file