Director, Beyond the Fringe star Jonathan Miller dies at 85

FILE - In this Dec. 12, 1980 file photo, Jonathan Miller, left, directs Shakespeare's "Taming Of The Shrew" with actor John Cleese, right. The family of theater director and presenter Jonathan Miller says the star of the Beyond the Fringe comedy revue has died. He was 85 and had suffered from Alzheimers disease before his death Wednesday Nov. 27, 2019. (AP Photo, File)

LONDON – Jonathan Miller, the polymath British stage director, filmmaker and comedian who co-created groundbreaking comedy revue “Beyond the Fringe,” has died at the age of 85.

Miller’s family said Wednesday that he “died this morning peacefully at home with his family around him following a long battle with Alzheimer's.”

“His death is a great loss to our family and to his friends and will leave a huge hole in our lives,” the family said.

One of the country’s most important and wide-ranging arts figures, Miller had a decades-long career that encompassed theater, television and opera.

Some of Britain’s largest and most respected arts institutions, including the National Theatre, the British Film Institute and the Royal Opera, hurried to pay tribute to his long career.

Born in London in 1934, Miller studied medicine and qualified as a doctor before turning to the arts, spurred by the success of “Beyond the Fringe,” a satirical revue he created in 1960 with fellow Cambridge University students Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and Alan Bennett.

The show went from London’s West End to Broadway, and helped launch a wave of irreverent, satirical comedy that included Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

It diverted Miller from a planned career in neurology into the arts.