German-American filmmaker William Bill Wyler dies at his home in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, of a heart attack. He had just returned from London, where he had given several lectures at the Film Institute. He was only 74 years old.
Wyler was born into a Jewish family in Mulhouse, a city in the French region of Alsace (which had been part of the German Empire since the Franco-Prussian War) in 1902 and had settled permanently in the United States in 1920. Five years later , in 1925 he would debut with a western titled Crook Buster.
Considered one of the most prolific directors in the history of cinema, (35 films), Wyler had won three Oscars for Mrs. Miniver (1943), The best years of our life (1947), and Ben Hur (1960) and had been nominated thirteen times.
Many of the great figures of American cinema acted under his baton, whom he used as support for bestsellers. Gary Cooper, Montgomery Cliff, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, Hugh Griffith and Charlton Heston were some of the ‘Hollywood monsters’ who worked with Wyler.
Some of the 35 films he made throughout his life broke box office and exhibition records.
In 1970 Wyler retired from active commercial cinema. ‘My projects and realities’, he declared in 1978, ‘are those of resting, sleeping, traveling and not feeling pressured to shoot any new film’.