WILLIAM WYLER Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Name: Willi Wyler                                                                       
Born: 1 July 1902 Mülhausen, Alsace, Germany (now Mulhouse, Haut-Rhin, France)         
Died: 27 July 1981 Los Angeles, California, U.S.                                       
William Wyler (July 1, 1902 – July 27, 1981) was a prolific, Oscar-winning           
motion picture director. He was known to require tens of takes for every shot in       
his films and for demanding control over the story, location and crew of each           
production, yet his exacting nature and attention to detail paid off in the form       
of both popular and critical success.                                                   
Wyler was born Willi Weiller to a Jewish family in Mulhouse in the French region       
of Alsace (then part of the German Empire). He was related to Carl Laemmle,             
founder of Universal Pictures, through his mother (a cousin of Laemmle's). His         
family connections served him well, as he became the youngest director on the           
Universal lot in 1925. In 1928, he became a naturalized citizen of the United           
States. He soon proved himself an able craftsman, and in the early 1930s became         
one of Universal's greatest assets, directing such solid films as The Love Trap,       
Hell's Heroes, and Tom Brown of Culver and The Good Fairy.                             
He later signed with Samuel Goldwyn and directed such quality films as These           
Three, Come and Get It, Dodsworth, Dead End, Jezebel, Wuthering Heights, The           
Letter, The Westerner, and The Little Foxes.                                           
Between 1942 and 1945, Wyler served as a major in the U.S. Army Air Corps and           
directed the documentary Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress. He also           
directed two key films which first captured the mood of the nation as it               
prepared for battle and, four years later, peace. Mrs. Miniver (1942), a story         
of a middle class English family adjusting to the war in Europe, helped                 
condition American audiences to life in wartime (and galvanized support for the         
British). The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), the story of three veterans               
arriving home and adjusting to civilian life, dramatized the problems of               
returning veterans for those who had remained on the homefront. Wyler won Best         
Director Oscars for both films (which also won Best Picture Oscars).                   
During the 1950s and 1960s, Wyler directed a handful of critically acclaimed and       
influential films, most notably Roman Holiday (1953) for introducing Audrey             
Hepburn to American audiences and leading to her first Oscar, The Heiress               
earning Olivia de Havilland her second Oscar, Friendly Persuasion (1956) which         
was awarded by the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at the Cannes Film Festival, and Ben-Hur   
(1959) for its eleven Oscar wins (matched only twice, by Titanic in 1997 and The       
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003).                                     
In 1965, Wyler won the Irving Thalberg Award for career achievement. Eleven             
years later, he received the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. In         
addition to his Best Picture and Best Director Oscar wins, ten of Wyler's films         
earned Best Picture nominations. He received twelve Oscar nominations for Best         
Director, winning three times, while three dozen of his actors won Oscars or           
were nominated.                                                                         
Although most of the most famous directors had their own particular style, Wyler       
(along with Michael Curtiz) didn't. He did not build a stable of players like           
Capra, Sturges or Ford. He directed varied types of films without any trademark         
shots or themes.                                                                       
On July 24, 1981, Wyler gave an interview with his daughter, producer Catherine         
Wyler for Directed by William Wyler, a PBS documentary about his life and career.       
A mere three days later, Wyler died from a heart attack. Wyler's last words on         
film concern a vision of directing his "next picture...Going Home". Wyler is           
interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.                 
Wyler was briefly married to Margaret Sullavan (25 November 1934 - 13 March 1936)       
and married Margaret Tallichet on 23 October 1938 until his death; they had four