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William Wyler

William Wyler

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Also Known As: Lt. Col. William Wyler Died: July 27, 1981
Born: July 1, 1902 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Germany Profession: director, screenwriter, propman, script clerk, editor, casting director, publicity writer, grip

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Few film directors demonstrated the depth, range, longevity, and sensitivity that William Wyler served up on the American silver screen over his decades-long career. Having made a number of silent pictures in the 1920s, Wyler emerged in the talkie era as a director of respectable adaptations of plays and literary works like "These Three" (1936) and "Come and Get It" (1936). But it was his collaboration with actress Bette Davis - which was punctuated by an on-again, off-again romance - that elevated his career to the next level, starting with "Jezebel" (1938). He went on to earn Academy Award nominations for "Wuthering Heights" (1939), "The Letter" (1941) and "The Little Foxes" (1941), before winning his first Oscar for "Mrs. Miniver" (1942). Following a brief sojourn to Europe to film "The Memphis Belle" (1944) for the war effort, Wyler earned greater acclaim for with "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) and "The Heiress" (1949) before embarking on a string of well-received genre films, covering film noir, Westerns and romantic comedy. He had his grandest achievement with "Ben-Hur" (1959), an epic in every sense of the word that earned 11 Academy Awards. Wyler wound down his career in the next...

Few film directors demonstrated the depth, range, longevity, and sensitivity that William Wyler served up on the American silver screen over his decades-long career. Having made a number of silent pictures in the 1920s, Wyler emerged in the talkie era as a director of respectable adaptations of plays and literary works like "These Three" (1936) and "Come and Get It" (1936). But it was his collaboration with actress Bette Davis - which was punctuated by an on-again, off-again romance - that elevated his career to the next level, starting with "Jezebel" (1938). He went on to earn Academy Award nominations for "Wuthering Heights" (1939), "The Letter" (1941) and "The Little Foxes" (1941), before winning his first Oscar for "Mrs. Miniver" (1942). Following a brief sojourn to Europe to film "The Memphis Belle" (1944) for the war effort, Wyler earned greater acclaim for with "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) and "The Heiress" (1949) before embarking on a string of well-received genre films, covering film noir, Westerns and romantic comedy. He had his grandest achievement with "Ben-Hur" (1959), an epic in every sense of the word that earned 11 Academy Awards. Wyler wound down his career in the next decade, helming hits like "How to Steal a Million" (1966) and "Funny Girl" (1968) before calling it a career in 1970. When he did, Wyler had cemented his place as a legendary director whose greatness spanned decades.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  Funny Girl (1968) Director
3.
  How to Steal a Million (1966) Director
4.
  The Collector (1965) Director
5.
  The Children's Hour (1961) Director
6.
  Ben-Hur (1959) Director
7.
  The Big Country (1958) Director
8.
  Friendly Persuasion (1956) Director
9.
  The Desperate Hours (1955) Director
10.
  Roman Holiday (1953) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Directed By William Wyler (1986) Himself
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Milestones close milestones

1920:
Invited to US by cousing Carl Laemmle, head of Universal Studios
:
Began career at Universal Studios, New York as shipping clerk; then worked in foreign publicity
1921:
Transferred to Universal City, Hollywood
1922:
Immigrated to USA
1923:
First film as assistant director, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"
1925:
Film directing debut at age 23, "Crook Busters"
1936:
Left Universal; began working for independent producer Samuel Goldwyn; first collaboration with cinematographer Gregg Toland
1942:
Served in England with US Air Force during WWII; produced, wrote and co-photographed documentary, "Memphis Belle" (1944) and co-directed (with John Sturges) documentary "Thunderbolt" (1945); discharged as lieutenant colonel
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Education

L'Ecole Superieure de Commerce: -
Paris Conservatoire: -

Notes

While serving with the US Air Force in England during WWII, Wyler made two documentaries about bombing assignments over Germany; "Memphis Belle" (1944) and "Thunderbolt" (1945; co-directed with John Sturges). In 1990 Wyler's daughter Catherine made her feature film producing debut (with David Puttnam)--"Memphis Belle."

He received the Air Medal after serving with US bomber troops in England.

Under his direction, a record 35 actors received Oscar nominations and 13 won the award (14, if you count supporting actor Oscar winner Walter Brennan in "Come and Get It", co-directed by Wyler and Howard Hawks).

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Margaret Sullavan. Actor. Married in 1934; divorced in 1936.
companion:
Bette Davis. Actor. Began on-again, off-again relationship in the late 1930s; collaborated on three films together: "Jezebel" (1938), "The Lettter" (1940) and "The Little Foxes" (1941).
wife:
Margaret Tallichet. Married from 1938 until his death; died on May 3, 1991.

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Robert Wyler.
daughter:
Catherine Wyler. Producer. Born on July 25, 1939; was executive producer of documentary "William Wyler Directs" (1986) and producer of "Memphis Belle" (1990); mother Margaret Tallichet.
daughter:
Judith Wyler. Born on May 21, 1942; mother, Margaret Tallichet.
son:
David Wyler. Mother, Margaret Tallichet; in late 1970s worked as assistant director and production assistant on some films.
daughter:
Melanie Ann Wyler. Born on November 25, 1950; mother Margaret Tallichet.
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Bibliography close complete biography

"A Talent for Trouble: The Life of Hollywood's Most Acclaimed Director, William Wyler" G.P. Putnam's Sons

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