Billy Wilder biography

Billy Wilder

Film director

1906 – 2002


Who was Billy Wilder?

Billy Wilder was an Austrian-born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist, 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. Wilder is one of only five people to have won Academy Awards as producer, director, and screenwriter for the same film.

Wilder became a screenwriter in the late 1920s while living in Berlin. After the rise of the Nazi Party, Wilder, who was Jewish, left for Paris, where he made his directorial debut. He relocated to Hollywood in 1933, and in 1939 he had a hit when he co-wrote the screenplay for the screwball comedy Ninotchka. Wilder established his directorial reputation with Double Indemnity, a film noir he co-wrote with mystery 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, about alcoholism. In 1950, Wilder co-wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Sunset Boulevard.

From the mid-1950s on, Wilder made mostly comedies. Among the classics Wilder created in this period are the farces The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot, satires such as The Apartment, and the drama comedy Sabrina. He directed fourteen different actors in Oscar-nominated performances. Wilder was recognized with the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1986. In 1988, Wilder was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.


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Jun 22, 1906
Sucha Beskidzka
Also known as
  • Samuel Wilder
  • The Viennese Pixie
  • Billie Wilder
  • Judaism
  • Jewish people
  • United States of America
  • Poland
  • University of Vienna
Mar 27, 2002
Beverly Hills
Resting place
Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery

on July 23, 2013

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