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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