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Wilder, Billy


WILDER, BILLY (1906–2002), U.S. film director and writer. Born in Vienna, Wilder began as a newspaperman, and got his start in the film industry in Berlin by writing scripts. He left Germany in 1933 and reached Hollywood in 1934. At Paramount studios he collaborated with Charles Brackett, a former drama critic for The New Yorker, and together they wrote 14 successful films, including Ninotchka (1939); Ball of Fire (1941); Double Indemnity (1944); The Lost Weekend (1945); A Foreign Affair (1948); The Emperor Waltz (1948); and Sunset Boulevard (1950). After they had parted in 1950, Wilder wrote successes such as Stalag 17 (1953); Sabrina (1954); The Seven Year Itch (1955); Love in the Afternoon (1957); and Witness for the Prosecution (1958). Wilder, whose films were characterized by novel situations and swift dialogue, teamed with I.A.L. Diamond to make Some Like it Hot (1959); The Apartment (1960); Irma la Douce (1961); The Fortune Cookie (1966); and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970). Many of these he also produced and directed.

Other Wilder films include The Spirit of St. Louis (1957); One, Two, Three (1961); Kiss Me, Stupid (1964); Avanti! (1972); The Front Page (1974); Fedora (1978); and Buddy Buddy (wrote, 1981).

For more than a quarter of a century, Wilder was one of the most successful filmmakers in Hollywood. His many accomplishments and accolades include six Oscars – two for direction, three for screenwriting, and one for producing. In 1986 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. In 1988 he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, given to "a creative producer who has been responsible for a consistently high quality of motion picture production."

add. bibliography:

T. Wood, The Bright Side of Billy Wilder, Primarily (1970); M. Zolotow, Billy Wilder in Hollywood (1977); C. Crowe, Conversations with Wilder (1999); E. Sikov, On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder (1999); R. Horton (ed), Billy Wilder: Interviews (2001); C. Chandler, Nobody's Perfect: Billy Wilder, a Personal Biography (2002).

[Stewart Kampel /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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