- Associated Press - Thursday, January 3, 2013

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA (AP) - Sergiu Nicolaescu, a prolific and popular Romanian director known for his historical epics who also served as a Senator, died Thursday. He was 82.

The Elias Hospital said Nicolaescu died from heart and lung complications following surgery for digestive problems.

Nicolaescu quit politics in December, having been Senator for the Social Democracy Party since 1992.

Nicolaescu made some 50 movies in his lifetime, and despite his career in politics, continued to direct films such as the `’Orient Express” in 2004.

He was best known for historical films which found favor with the Communist regime before it collapsed in 1989. His 1979 movie `’Mihai the Brave” is considered a cinematic classic in Romania.

`’A star of Romania has been extinguished,” said Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

Nicolaescu was also an actor, and had several leading roles during his career, notably playing King Carol I in “Carol I,” a movie he also directed that was released in 2010.

Nicolaescu is survived by his widow Dana, who said in a statement that journalists were barred from taking photos or filming his funeral on Saturday.

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