Photo of William Wyler William Wyler

Lacking a signature style, the pictures of Hollywood golden age director William Wyler instead distinguish themselves through a focus on stories and the integrity of the performances. The result has been a string of "mosts" for Wyler: most Oscar nominations (12); most Oscar-winning performances by actors in his films (14); and most Best Picture Oscars (3).

Born July 1, 1902, in Alsace, Germany, Wyler came to the United States at age 18 to work for his cousin Carl Laemmle, the head of Universal Pictures. In 1936, he began a long collaboration with Samuel Goldwyn that would result in some of his finest films, including Wuthering Heights, The Little Foxes and The Letter.

After serving in World War II, Wyler made what many believe to be his greatest film, The Best Years of Our Lives -- though even it couldn't match the record 11 Oscars his 1959 epic Ben-Hur received. Wyler died July 27, 1981.

William Wyler in Ben-Hur


1959 G

Charlton Heston plays Judah Ben-Hur, a proud Jew who runs afoul of ambitious boyhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) in this 1959 epic that boasts an unforgettable chariot race and earned 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Heston) and Best Director (William Wyler). Condemned to life as a slave, Judah swears vengeance against Messala and escapes, later crossing paths with a gentle prophet named Jesus.

  • William Wyler in Funny Girl Funny Girl
  • William Wyler in The Children's Hour The Children's Hour
  • William Wyler in Wuthering Heights Wuthering Heights
  • William Wyler in Mrs. Miniver Mrs. Miniver
  • William Wyler in The Best Years of Our Lives The Best Years of Our Lives
  • William Wyler in Roman Holiday Roman Holiday
  • William Wyler in The Westerner The Westerner
  • William Wyler in The Little Foxes The Little Foxes
  • William Wyler in Friendly Persuasion Friendly Persuasion
  • William Wyler in The Letter The Letter
  • William Wyler in The Heiress The Heiress
  • William Wyler in The Big Country The Big Country
  • William Wyler in Carrie Carrie
  • William Wyler in Jezebel Jezebel
  • William Wyler in The Love Trap / Directed by William Wyler The Love Trap / Directed by William Wyler
  • William Wyler in The Collector The Collector