William Wyler

Oscar-winning Motion Picture Director
Born Jul 1, 1902

William Wyler was a leading Alsatian-born American motion picture director, producer, and screenwriter who made his mark in Hollywood as one of film industry's icons. Notable works included Ben-Hur (1959), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Mrs. Miniver (1942), all of which won Wyler Academy Awards for Best Director, and also won Best Picture.… Read More

related links

News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about William Wyler.


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of William Wyler.


1902 Birth Born on July 1, 1902.


1921 19 Years Old In 1921, Wyler, while traveling as a Swiss citizen (his father's status automatically conferred Swiss citizenship to his sons), met Laemmle who hired him to work at Universal Studios in New York. … Read More


1923 21 Years Old Around 1923, Wyler arrived in Los Angeles and began work on the Universal Studios lot in the swing gang, cleaning the stages and moving the sets. … Read More
1925 23 Years Old He started as a third assistant director and by 1925 he became the youngest director on the Universal lot directing the Westerns that Universal was famed for turning out.
1928 26 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1928, he became a naturalized United States citizen.


1936 34 Years Old …  Wyler received his first Oscar nomination for directing Dodsworth in 1936, starring Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton and Mary Astor, "sparking a 20-year run of almost unbroken greatness." … Read More
1938 36 Years Old 1 More Event
Bette Davis received three Oscar nominations for her screen work under Wyler, and won her second Oscar for her performance in Wyler's 1938 film Jezebel.
1941 39 Years Old …  In 1941, Wyler directed Mrs. Miniver, a story of a middle class English family adjusting to the war in Europe. … Read More


1942 40 Years Old Between 1942 and 1945, Wyler, who became a United States citizen in 1928, served as a major in the United States Army Air Forces and directed three documentaries: The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944), the story of a Boeing B-17 and its U.S. Army Air Force crew, Thunderbolt! (1947), with Lester Koenig and John Sturges, the story of a P-47 fighter-bomber squadron in the Mediterranean.
1943 41 Years Old Wyler filmed The Memphis Belle at great personal risk, flying over enemy territory on actual bombing missions in 1943; on one flight, Wyler passed out from lack of oxygen. … Read More
1949 47 Years Old During the immediate postwar period, Wyler directed a handful of critically acclaimed and influential films. In 1949, he directed The Heiress, which earned Olivia de Havilland her second Oscar and garnered additional Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Music. … Read More


1959 57 Years Old 1 More Event
Charlton Heston won his only nomination and Best Actor Oscar for his work in Wyler's 1959 Ben-Hur. Barbra Streisand won 1968's Best Actress Oscar (as did Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter, in the only tie in Oscar history for this category) as entertainer Fanny Brice in Streisand's debut film, Funny Girl.


1965 63 Years Old In 1965, Wyler won the Irving Thalberg Award for career achievement. … Read More
1976 74 Years Old William Wyler received the fourth AFI LIfe Achievement Award in 1976. … Read More
1981 79 Years Old 1 More Event
On July 24, 1981, Wyler gave an interview with his daughter, Catherine, for Directed by William Wyler, a PBS documentary about his life and career. … Read More
Original Authors of this text are noted on
Text is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.