Billy Wilder was born Samuel Wilder on June 22 nd 1906 in Austria. Although he had studied law, he decided to embark upon a career as a print journalist, and was soon working for one of the biggest tabloid newspapers in Berlin. This led him into screenwriting, and he became known as a master within his field. However, when Hitler came into power, the Jewish Wellman had to leave his work and career behind and concentrate on saving his life.
He fled to France, and in 1934 found himself co-directing behind the camera on ‘Mauvaise Grain’. He then headed for Hollywood, where he worked on improving his English. It wasn’t long before he had landed work here, and he went on to work on movies such as: ‘The Lottery Lover’ and ‘Champagne Waltz’. He also developed a writing partnership with a Charles Brackett, and the two went on to churn out hit after hit.
Some of the movies to come out of this partnership included: ‘That Certain Age’, ‘Midnight’, ‘Ernst Lubitsch’, and ‘Ninotchka’. In the 1940s he really threw himself into directing, and produced gems such as: ‘The Major and the Minor’, ‘Five Graves to Cairo’, ‘Double Indemnity’, and ‘Lost Weekend’.
After a break from directing during the Second World War, Wilder returned to the arena with movies such as: ‘The Emperor Waltz’, ‘A Foreign Affair’, ‘Sunset Boulevard’, ‘Stalag 17’, ‘Sabrina’, ‘The Seven Year Itch’, ‘The Spirit of St Louis’, and ‘Some Like it Hot’. The 1960s saw his directing career slow down, and in the early 1980s he retired. The same decade he notched up both the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award and the Irving G. Thalberg Award.
He passed away on March 27 th 2002.
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