William Augustus Wellman was born on February 19 th 1896 in Massachusetts. He started life as a petty criminal and also played hockey. He then joined the French Foreign Legion, and later went to serve in the First World War. His entrance into movies was quite by chance, and started after he accidentally landed his aircraft on the estate of Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
He started to do some bit acting in 1920, and three years later he had already risen to the ranks of director. In 1927 he was asked to direct the movie ‘Wings’, which went on to earn the first Academy Award even for Best Picture. This was the real of a successful directorial career for Wellman.
Over the next few decades Wellman continued to direct a range of hits, such as: ‘The Public Enemy’, ‘A Star is Born’, ‘Nothing Sacred’, ‘The Story of GI Joe’, ‘The Lady of Burlesque’, ‘Island in the Sky’, ‘The High and Mighty’, and his final movie, which was ‘Lafayette Escadrille’.
The great-great-great grandson of Francis Lewis of New York, who was a signatory in the Declaration of Independence, Wellman enjoyed a career that spanned several successful decades of moviemaking.
He passed away on 9 th December 1975 from leukemia in California.
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