1 July 1902: Birthday of William Wyler, French-American film director, producer and screenwriter (d. 1981) (Source)

Publicity portrait of director William Wyler ca 1945 – photo by film studio (Source)

William Wyler (/ˈwlər/; born Willi Wyler[1] (German: [ˈvɪli ˈvi:lɐ]); July 1, 1902 – July 27, 1981) was a Swiss-German film director and producer. Notable works include Mrs. Miniver (1942), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Ben-Hur (1959), all of which won him the Academy Award for Best Director (while also winning Best Picture). Wyler received his first Oscar nomination for directing Dodsworth in 1936, starring Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton and Mary Astor, “sparking a 20-year run of almost unbroken greatness.”[2]:24

Film historian Ian Freer calls Wyler a “bona fide perfectionist”, whose penchant for retakes and an attempt to hone every last nuance, “became the stuff of legend.”[2]:57 His ability to direct a string of classic literary adaptations into huge box-office and critical successes made him one of “Hollywood‘s most bankable moviemakers” during the 1930s and 1940s and into the ’60s. Through his talent for staging, editing, and camera movement, he turned dynamic theatrical spaces into cinematic ones.[3]

He helped propel a number of actors to stardom, finding and directing Audrey Hepburn in her Hollywood debut film, Roman Holiday (1953), and directing Barbra Streisand in her debut film, Funny Girl (1968). Both of these performances won Academy Awards. He directed Olivia de Havilland to her second Oscar in The Heiress (1949) and Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights (1939), for his first Oscar nomination. Olivier credited Wyler with teaching him how to act for the screen. And Bette Davis, who received three Oscar nominations under his direction and won her second Oscar in Jezebel (1938), said Wyler made her a “far, far better actress” than she had ever been.

Other popular Wyler films include: Hell’s Heroes (1929) with Charles Bickford, Dodsworth (1936) with Walter Huston, The Westerner (1940) with Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan, The Letter (1940) with Bette Davis, Friendly Persuasion (1956) with Gary Cooper, The Big Country (1958) with Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston, The Children’s Hour (1961) with Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner, and How to Steal a Million (1966) with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. (Source)

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