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Samuel Wilder (Wilder, Billy)

Born: 1906 AD
Died: 2002 AD, at 95 years of age.

Nationality: Austrian
Categories: Director, Journalist, Producers, Writers


1906 - Samuel Wilder in Sucha, Austria on the 22nd of June. He was an Austrian-born, Jewish-American journalist, screenwriter, film director, and producer whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood's golden age. Many of his films achieved both critical and public acclaim.

1929 - He was working as a screenwriter, often collaborating with director Robert Siodmak. He swiftly became one of the German film industry's most prolific and sought-after writers, but Adolf Hitler's rise to power effectively brought his career to a halt as Wilder, a Jew, was forced to flee for his life.

1934 - His first stop was France, where he made his debut behind the camera, co-directing Mauvaise Graine with Alexander Esway. He soon landed in the United States, settling in Hollywood to begin his work anew.

       - After moving in with Peter Lorre, He set about learning English, eventually gaining entry into the American film industry with a adaptation of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein musical Music in the Air, directed by Joe May and starring Gloria Swanson.

1935 - 1938  - He worked on a number of other films including, The Lottery Lover and Champagne Waltz prior to forging a writing partnership with Charles Brackett on That Certain Age.
1939 - 1941 - The Wilder/Brackett team quickly emerged as one of Hollywood's most successful pairings, with credits including Mitchell Leisen's Midnight, the Ernst Lubitsch classic Ninotchka, and Howard Hawks' stellar effort Ball of Fire, winning widespread acclaim for their distinctively sophisticated touch.

1942 - Ultimately, his success as a writer also allowed him the opportunity to direct, and he bowed with the Ginger Rogers vehicle The Major and the Minor.

1943 - The wartime thriller Five Graves to Cairo followed, and the next year He helmed his first classic, the masterful film noir Double Indemnity.

1945 - Even more powerful was its follow-up, The Lost Weekend, a remarkably gritty and realistic portrayal of alcoholism which won four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (for Wilder and Brackett), and Best Actor (Ray Milland).

1948 - Wartime duties kept Wilder out of the filmmaking arena for several years, and he did not direct another film before The Emperor Waltz.

1950 - Sunset Boulevard, on the other hand, was hailed as a classic immediately upon release, and the tale of a faded movie star (Swanson) the final screenplay from the Wilder/Brackett team went on to win the Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

1951 - The bitter The Big Carnival followed, with the wartime dramatic comedy Stalag 17 winning star William Holden a Best Actor Oscar two years later.

1954 - Upon completing the romantic comedy Sabrina.

1955 - He directed The Seven Year Itch, the first of his films to star Marilyn Monroe.

1957 - Love in the Afternoon, the first of many projects with new writing partner I.A.L. Diamond, the Charles Lindbergh biography The Spirit of St. Louis, and Witness for the Prosecution.

1959 - He closed out a decade of sustained excellence with the classic sex farce Some Like It Hot.

1960 - The Apartment, was the second of Wilder's movies to garner a Best Picture Oscar, and was followed a year later by One, Two, Three, which featured the final starring role of Jimmy Cagney.

1972 - 1978 -  Avanti!, his pace continued to dwindle during the, with only two more features, The Front Page and Fedora, issued during the remainder of the decade.

1981 - With the release Buddy Buddy, he announced his retirement from filmmaking.

1986 - He was honored with the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award, and two years later the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestowed upon him its Irving G. Thalberg Award.

2002 - Died at the age of 95 on the 27th of March, after battling health problems, including cancer, in Los Angeles, California, and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles, California.


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Page last updated: 1:30pm, 12th Jan '11