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Director Altman reveals heart transplant at Oscars

Written by: Staff

LOS ANGELES, Mar 6 (Reuters) Legendary film director Robert Altman revealed on stage at Academy Awards that he was only alive to collect his lifetime achievement award thanks to a heart transplant he kept secret for over a decade.

''I always thought this kind of award meant that it was over,'' Altman, 81, said. ''I'm here, I think, under false pretenses. I think I have to become straight with you. Ten years ago, 11 years ago I had a heart transplant, a total heart transplant.'' ''I got the heart of, I think, a young woman who was in about in her late 30s. By that kind of calculation you may be giving this award too early because I think I've got about 40 years left,'' he said.

The director of such movies as ''M*A*S*H,'' ''Gosford Park,'' ''Nashville'' and ''The Player'' told reporters backstage that he kept the transplant secret, fearing he would not be hired to work again.

''I didn't make a big secret about it. I thought maybe no one would hire me again,'' he said adding that heart problems have ''such a stigma.'' REUTERS DKS DS1102

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