Billy Wilder (/ˈwaɪldər/; German: [ˈvɪldɐ]), also known as Samuel Wilder, was an Austrian-American film director, producer and screenwriter, whose career in Hollywood spanned over five decades. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of the Hollywood Golden Age of cinema.
Wilder became a screenwriter in the late 1920s while living in Berlin. After the rise of the Nazi Party, he left Germany due to rampant antisemitism and discrimination against Jews, in 1933 for Paris, where he made his directorial debut. In 1933, he moved to Hollywood, and in 1939 he had a major hit when he co-wrote with Charles Brackett and Walter Reisch the screenplay for the Oscar nominated romantic comedy Ninotchka, starring Greta Garbo. Wilder established his directorial reputation with an adaptation of James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity (1944), a film noir. Wilder co-wrote the screenplay with crime novelist Raymond Chandler. Wilder earned the Best Director and Best Screenplay Academy Awards for the adaptation of a Charles R. Jackson story, The Lost Weekend (1945), about alcoholism. In the 1950s, Wilder directed the critically acclaimed films, Sunset Boulevard and Stalag 17.
From the mid-1950s on, Wilder made mostly comedies. Among the classics Wilder created in this period are the Marilyn Monroe vehicles The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959), and satires such as The Apartment (1960). He directed fourteen different actors in Oscar-nominated performances. The Apartment gave him the distinction of being the first person to win Academy Awards as producer, director and screenwriter.