Over the past year we’ve lost some great filmmakers and actors, and unfortunately the trend continues with the death of Peter Yates. He was an amazing director who was nominated for an Academy Award four times over the course of his career. He worked steadily during the sixties and seventies, and helmed some unforgettable classics like the Steve McQueen star vehicle, Bullitt.

According to THR, Yates agent Judy Daish confirmed his death after he lost his battle with a long term illness. He was 81 years old.

Yates has a string of cult classics besides Bullitt, including “The Hot Rock in 1972, The Deep in 1977, the 1979 coming-of-age/cycling drama Breaking Away, the 1983 Oscar-nominated drama The Dresser and 1983′s Krull!” He recently dabbled in television directing with adaptations of John KnowlesA Separate Piece and CervantesDon Quixote.

Yates had other interests outside the film industry, including car racing. It was something he shared in common with Bullitt star McQueen who was also an avid race fan. Yates spent the earlier portion of his career working as both a race car driver and a manager. It was an experience that we’re sure helped him in his later films when it came to shooting high octane chase scenes.

Yates is survived by his wife, Virginia Pope, his son and a daughter.

R.I.P. Peter Yates