- Wyler, William
- (1902-1981)Born Willi Weiller to Jewish parents in Mulhausen, Alsace (then part of Germany), William Wyler immigrated to the United States in 1920 to take a job in the New York office of the Universal Film Company. In 1922, he moved to work in their studios in California, and he directed his first film, Crook Buster, in 1925. He became one of the great cinema directors of the 1930s and 1940s, second only to John Ford. Wyler’s first major film was Hell’s Heroes in 1930. He began working with Samuel Goldwyn in the mid-1930s and achieved critical success with Dodsworth in 1936. His first major success, winning him an Oscar for Best Direction, was Miss Miniver in 1942, a portrayal of a British family during the war that did much to encourage U.S. support. Once the United States entered World War II, Wyler served as a major in the Army Air Corps and made an acclaimed documentary, Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress, in 1944. After the war, he won a second Oscar for Best Director in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives, the story of three returning veterans. Wyler went on to make other acclaimed films, including Roman Holiday (1953), The Big Country (1958), The Heiress (1959), and the epic Ben Hur (1959), which won 11 Oscars, including Best Director. Wyler’s last film was The Liberation of L.B. Jones in 1970. Known for his exacting standards and many takes, Wyler’s films often stood the test of time. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute.See also Cinema.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.