Wyler, William

Wyler, William, 1902–1981, American film director, producer, and writer, b. Mülhausen, Germany (now Mulhouse, France) as Willi Wilder. He came to the United States (1920) at the invitation of Carl Laemmle, a distant relative and the founder of Universal Studios, where Wyler worked until 1936. A meticulous and demanding craftsman, he worked mainly from literary novels and plays. After leaving Universal, Wyler worked with Samuel Goldwyn, Warner Brothers, Paramount, and others. His best-known films include Dodsworth (1936), which won him his first Academy Award nomination; Dead End (1937); Jezebel (1938); Wuthering Heights (1939); The Little Foxes (1941), based on the Lillian Hellman play; Mrs. Miniver (1942; Academy Award, best picture and director); The Best Years of Our Lives) (1946; Academy Award, best picture and director); and The Heiress (1949), an adaptation of Henry James's Washington Square. During World War II, while serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps, Wyler made the documentary Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944). After the war he directed Roman Holiday (1953); Ben Hur (1959; Academy Award, best picture and director); The Children's Hour (1961), from another Hellman play; The Collector (1965), based on John Fowles's novel; and Funny Girl (1968).

See biographies by S. Kern (1984) and J. Herman (1996); B. Bowman, Master Space: Film Images of Capra, Lubitsch, Sternberg, and Wyler (1992); M. Harris, Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War (2014).

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