The Following is the official info from various sources compiled by Wikipedia. Know its all BS and the powers that be in Hollywood, along with the military created these characters and implanted them in the fabric of the US culture. As a mechanism of profit and perception management, these military operatives were used to gather information from those around them and were the internal spies of the US. Who else did they report to, or were loyal to? We may never know. But one thing is for sure they did what they did and passed the baton to the next generation who are continuing their hijacking of humanity, and must be stopped.
Giancana was born Salvatore Giangana, in The Patch on Chicago’s West Side, to Italian Sicilian immigrants from Partanna, in the province of Trapani. His father, Antonino (later simplified to Antonio) Giangana, owned a pushcart and later briefly owned an Italian ice shop, which was later firebombed by gangland rivals of his son.
Sam Giancana joined the 42 Gang, a juvenile street crew answering to political boss Joseph Esposito. Giancana soon developed a reputation for being an excellent getaway driver, a high earner, and a vicious killer. After Esposito’s murder, in which Giancana was allegedly involved, the 42 Gang was transformed into a de facto extension of the Chicago Outfit. The Outfit was initially wary of the 42ers, thinking they were too wild. However, Giancana’s leadership qualities, the fact that he was an excellent “wheel man” with a get-away car, and his knack for making money on the street gained him the notice of Cosa Nostra higher-ups like Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti, Paul “The Waiter” Ricca, and Tony “Joe Batters” Accardo. He was arrested for the first time in 1925, for auto theft. He soon graduated to “triggerman,” and by the age of 20 had been the prime subject in three murder investigations, but was never tried. In the late 1930s, Giancana became the first 42er to join the Outfit. From the early 1940s through the 1950s, he controlled most of the illegal gambling, illegal liquor distribution, and numerous other political rackets in Louisiana through longtime friend H.A. (Hol) Killian. Killian controlled the mass majority of the liquor license issuance to those who sought one through his connections with longtime business associate Carlos Marcello from New Orleans. The trio’s combined political influence reached all the way to the governor’s mansion and to the White House. Killian was such close friends with Giancana that the latter considered Killian’s three sons (David, Mike, and Ned) as his own.
Giancana married Angelina DeTolve, the daughter of immigrants from the Italian region of Basilicata, on September 23, 1933. They had three daughters, Antoinette, Bonnie and Francine. His wife died in 1954, leaving him to raise his daughters. Giancana never remarried and was known as a good family man, despite frequent infidelities, and held his late wife in high regard and respect. All of the Giancana daughters have married at least once. As of 1984, at least one daughter, Antoinette, had taken the “Giancana” name again.
Rise to power
In 1945, after serving a sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute, Indiana (during which time he told his children he was away “at college”), Giancana made a name for himself by convincing Accardo, then the Outfit’s underboss, to stage a take-over of Chicago’s African-American “policy” (lottery) pay-out system for The Outfit. Giancana’s crew is believed to have been responsible for convincing Eddie Jones to leave his racket and leave the country. Giancana’s crew was also responsible for the murder on August 4, 1952 of African American gambling boss Theodore Roe. Both Jones and Roe were leading South Side “Policy Kings”. However, Roe had refused to surrender control of his operation as the Outfit had demanded; on June 19, 1951, Roe fatally shot Lennard “Fat Lennie” Caifano, a made man in Giancana’s crew. Over an FBI wiretap during the early 1970s, Giancana said of Roe, “I’ll say this. Nigger or no nigger, that bastard went out like a man. He had balls. It was a fuckin’ shame to kill him.”
However, the South Side “policy”-game takeover by the Outfit was not complete until another Outfit member, Jackie “the Lackey” Cerone, scared “Big Jim” Martin to Mexico with two bullets to the head that did not kill him. When the lottery money started rolling in for The Outfit after this gambling war, the amount that this game had produced for The Outfit was in the millions of dollars a year and brought Giancana further notice. It is believed to have been a major factor in his being “anointed” as the Outfit’s new boss when Accardo stepped aside from being the front boss to becoming “consigliere,” in 1957. However, it was generally understood that Accardo and Ricca still held the real power. Giancana was required to consult Accardo and Ricca on all important Outfit affairs. No major business transactions, and certainly no hits, took place without Accardo and Ricca’s approval.
Giancana was present at the Mafia’s 1957 Apalachin Meeting at the Upstate New York estate of Joseph Barbara. Later, Buffalo crime boss Stefano Magaddino and Giancana were overheard on a wire saying the meeting should have taken place in the Chicago area. Giancana claimed that the Chicago area was “the safest place in the world” for a major underworld meeting because he had several police chiefs on his payroll. If the syndicate ever wanted to hold a meeting in or around Chicago, Giancana said, they had nothing to fear because they had the area “locked up tight.”
Alleged CIA connections
It is widely reputed and partially corroborated by the Church Committee Hearings, that during the Kennedy administration, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited Giancana and other mobsters to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Giancana reportedly said that the CIA and the Cosa Nostra were “different sides of the same coin.”
Judith Exner claimed to be the mistress of both Giancana and JFK and that she delivered communications between the two regarding Fidel Castro. However, Giancana’s daughter, Antoinette, has stated her belief that her father was running a scam in order to pocket millions of dollars in CIA funding.
Documents released in 1997 revealed that some Mafiosi worked with CIA on assassination attempts against Cuban leader Fidel Castro. CIA documents released in 2007 confirmed that in the summer of 1960, CIA recruited ex-FBI agent Robert Maheu to approach the West Coast representative of the Chicago mob, Johnny Roselli. When Maheu contacted Roselli, Maheu hid the fact that he was sent by CIA, instead portraying himself an advocate for international corporations. He offered to pay $150,000 to have Castro killed, but Roselli declined any pay. Roselli introduced Maheu to two men he referred to as “Sam Gold”, and “Joe.” “Sam Gold” was Sam Giancana; “Joe” was Santo Trafficante, Jr., the Tampa/Florida /Miami Syndicate boss and one of the most powerful mobsters in pre-revolution Cuba. Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post explained: “After Fidel Castro led a revolution that toppled the government of Fulgencio Batista in 1959, CIA was desperate to eliminate Castro. So the agency sought out a partner equally worried about Castro—the Mafia, which had lucrative investments in Cuban casinos.”
According to the recently declassified CIA “Family Jewels” documents, Giancana and Santo Trafficante, Jr. were contacted in September 1960, about the possibility of an assassination attempt by a go-between from CIA, Robert Maheu, after Maheu had contacted Johnny Roselli, a Mafia member in Las Vegas and Giancana’s number-two man. Maheu had presented himself as a representative of numerous international business firms in Cuba that were being expropriated by Castro. He offered $150,000 for the “removal” of Castro through this operation (the documents suggest that neither Roselli, Giancana, nor Trafficante accepted any sort of payments for the job). According to the files, it was Giancana who suggested using poison pills that could be used to doctor Castro’s food and drink. These pills were given by CIA to Giancana’s nominee, Juan Orta, whom Giancana presented as being a corrupt official in the new Cuban government and who had access to Castro. After a six attempts to introduce the poison into Castro’s food, Orta abruptly demanded to be let out of the mission, handing over the job to another, unnamed participant. Later, a second attempt was mounted through Giancana and Trafficante using Anthony Verona, the leader of the Cuban Exile Junta, who had, according to Trafficante, become “disaffected with the apparent ineffectual progress of the Junta”. Verona requested $10,000 in expenses and $1,000 worth of communications equipment. However, it is unclear how far the second attempt went, as the entire program was canceled shortly thereafter due to the launching of the Bay of Pigs Invasion in April 1961.
At the same time, Giancana, according to the “Family Jewels”, approached Maheu to wire the room of his then-mistress Phyllis McGuire, whom he suspected of having an affair with comedian Dan Rowan. Although documents suggest Maheu acquiesced, the device was not planted due to the arrest of the agent who had been given the task of planting the device. According to the documents, Robert Kennedy moved to block the prosecution of the agent and of Maheu, who was soon linked to the wire attempt, at CIA’s request. Giancana and McGuire, who had a long lasting affair, were originally introduced by Frank Sinatra. During part of the affair, according to Sam’s daughter Antoinette, McGuire had a concurrent affair with President Kennedy.
Giancana’s behavior was too high-profile for Outfit tastes and attracted far too much federal scrutiny. He also refused to cut his underlings in on his lavish profits from offshore casinos in Iran and Central America. Both of these factors resulted in much bitterness among the Outfit’s rank-and-file. Giancana was the subject of many hours of wiretaps. On one, he was heard to say, “We’re whacking a lot of the wrong guys lately.”
When Giancana was called before a grand jury in 1966, he was ordered[by whom?] to stay silent, which put him in prison for over a year. Meanwhile, Giancana was deposed as day-to-day boss by Ricca and Accardo, and replaced by Joseph “Joey Doves” Aiuppa.
International gambling success and dispute with the Outfit
After arriving in Mexico, Giancana managed to make money from various gambling operations, among them in Iran.
When Tony Accardo demanded that he give a share of the profits to The Outfit, Giancana refused, claiming that he did it all by himself and outside the Outfit’s jurisdiction. In response, Accardo asked someone to “explain him the facts of life. And I mean life.” Giancana, however remained adamant and refused to pay.[not in citation given]
After his release from prison, Giancana relocated to Cuernavaca, Mexico in order to avoid further grand jury questioning. He was arrested by Mexican authorities on July 19, 1974 and deported to the United States. He arrived back in Chicago on July 21, 1974.
Giancana had another sitdown with the Outfit with no resolution. The Outfit requested he give a share of his money, and he refused.
After Giancana’s return to the U.S., the police detailed officers to guard his house in Oak Park, Illinois. However, on the night of June 19, 1975, someone recalled the police detail. A gunman later entered Giancana’s basement kitchen and shot him in the back of the head as he was frying sausage and peppers. After Giancana fell to the ground, the gunman turned him over and shot him six more times in the face and neck. Investigators suspected the murderer was a close friend whom Giancana had let into the house. One reason for this suspicion was that Giancana, due to his heart problems, could not eat spicy foods. Therefore, he might have been cooking for a friend. Giancana was killed shortly before he was scheduled to appear before the Church Committee investigating CIA and Cosa Nostra collusion in plots to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.
Hitman Nicholas Calabrese told the FBI in the 2000s that he knew that Tony Accardo was part of the killing, and Angelo LaPietra got rid of the gun. The gun used to kill Giancana was equipped with a silencer that Frank Calabrese, Sr. and Ronnie Jarret had made.
Earlier speculations as to why Giancana was killed
Some commentators[who?] have alleged that CIA killed Giancana because of his troubled history with the agency. However, former CIA Director William Colby has been quoted as saying, “We had nothing to do with it.”
Another theory is that Trafficante crime family boss, Santo Trafficante, Jr., ordered Giancana’s murder due to mob fears that Giancana would testify about Cosa Nostra and CIA plots to kill Fidel Castro. Trafficante would have needed permission from Outfit bosses Tony Accardo and Joseph Aiuppa to kill Giancana. Johnny Roselli, whose body was found to have been shot, dissected, then stuffed in an oil drum floating off Miami, was also rumored to have been killed on Trafficante’s orders.
Most investigators believe Aiuppa ordered the Giancana murder. Giancana was still refusing to share any of his offshore gambling profits with the Outfit. In addition, Giancana was reportedly scheming to become Outfit boss again.
Longtime associate Dominic “Butch” Blasi was with Giancana the night he was murdered and was questioned by police as a suspect. FBI experts and Giancana’s daughter, Antoinette, do not consider him Giancana’s killer.
William Wyler (born as Willy Wyler; July 1, 1902 – July 27, 1981) was an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. Notable works include Ben-Hur (1959), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Mrs. Miniver (1942), all of which won Academy Awards for Best Director, as well as Best Picture in their respective years, making him the only director of three Best Picture winners as of 2017. 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.”:24
Film historian Ian Freer calls Wyler a “bona fide perfectionist”, whose penchant for retakes and an attempt to hone every last nuance, “became the stuff of legend.”:57 His ability to direct a string of classic literary adaptations into huge box-office and critical successes made him one of “Hollywood’s most bankable moviemakers” during the 1930s and 1940s and into the ’60s. Through his talent for staging, editing, and camera movement, he turned dynamic theatrical spaces into cinematic ones.
He helped propel a number of actors to stardom, finding and directing Audrey Hepburn in her Hollywood debut film, Roman Holiday (1953), and directing Barbra Streisand in her debut film, Funny Girl (1968). He directed Olivia de Havilland to her second Oscar in The Heiress (1949) and Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights (1939), for his first Oscar nomination. Olivier credited Wyler with teaching him how to act for the screen. And Bette Davis, who received three Oscar nominations under his direction and won her second Oscar in Jezebel (1938), said Wyler made her a “far, far better actress” than she had ever been.
Other popular Wyler films include: Hell’s Heroes (1930), Dodsworth (1936), The Westerner (1940), The Letter (1940), Friendly Persuasion (1956), The Big Country (1958), The Children’s Hour (1961) and How to Steal a Million (1966)
Wyler was born to a Jewish family:1220 in Mulhouse, Alsace (then part of the German Empire).:3 His Swiss-born father, Leopold, started as a traveling salesman which he later turned into a thriving haberdashery business in Mulhouse.:37 His mother, Melanie (née Auerbach; died February 13, 1955, Los Angeles, aged 77), was German-born, and a cousin of Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Pictures. During Wyler’s childhood, he attended a number of schools and developed a reputation as “something of a hellraiser”, being expelled more than once for misbehavior.:1222 His mother often took him and his older brother Robert to concerts, opera, and the theatre, as well as the early cinema. Sometimes at home, his family and their friends would stage amateur theatricals for personal enjoyment.:1223
Wyler was supposed to take over the family haberdashery business in Mulhouse, France. After World War I, he spent a dismal year working in Paris at 100.000 Chemises selling shirts and ties. He was so poor that he often spent his time wandering around the Pigalle district. After realizing that Willy was not interested in the haberdashery business, his mother, Melanie, contacted her distant cousin, Carl Laemmle who owned Universal Studios, about opportunities for him.
Laemmle was in the habit of coming to Europe each year, searching for promising young men who would work in America. 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. As Wyler said: “America seemed as far away as the moon.” Booked onto a ship to New York with Laemmle upon his return voyage, he met a young Czech man, Paul Kohner (later the famous independent agent), aboard the same ship. Their enjoyment of the first class trip was short-lived, however, as they found they had to pay back the cost of the passage out of their $25 weekly income as messengers to Universal Pictures. After working in New York for several years, and even serving in the New York Army National Guard for a year, Wyler moved to Hollywood to become a director.:37
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. His break came when he was hired as a second assistant editor. But, his work ethic was uneven, he would sneak off and play billiards in a pool hall across the street from the studio, or organize card games during working hours. After some ups and downs (including getting fired), Wyler focused on becoming a director and put all his effort into it. 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. Wyler was so focused on the work that he would dream about “different ways (for an actor) to get on a horse”. In several of the one-reelers, he would join the posse in the inevitable chase of the ‘bad man’.
He directed his first non-Western, the lost Anybody Here Seen Kelly?, in 1928. This was followed by his first part-talkie films, The Shakedown , nd The Love Trap. He proved himself an able craftsman. In 1928 he became a naturalized United States citizen.:73
In the early 1930s began directing such films as Hell’s Heroes, Dead End, and The Good Fairy. He became well known for his insistence on multiple retakes, resulting in often award-winning and critically acclaimed performances from his actors. After leaving Universal he began a long collaboration with Samuel Goldwyn for whom he directed such classics as Dodsworth (1936), These Three (1936), Dead End (1937), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Westerner (1940), The Little Foxes (1941) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). It was during this time that Wyler began his famous collaboration with cinematographer Greg Toland. Toland and Wyler virtually created the “deep focus” style of film making wherein multiple layers of action or characters could be seen in one scene, most famous being the bar scene in The Best Years of Our Lives. Toland went on to utilize the deep focus he mastered with Wyler when he shot Orson Welle’s Citizen Kane.
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. She told Merv Griffin in 1972 that Wyler trained her with that film to be a “far, far better actress” than she had been. She recalled a scene that was only a bare paragraph in the script, but “without a word of dialog, Willy created a scene of power and tension. This was moviemaking on the highest plane,” she said. “A scene of such suspense that I never have not marveled at the direction of it.”:162 During her acceptance speech when she received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1977, she thanked him.
Laurence Olivier, whom Wyler directed in Wuthering Heights (1939) for his first Oscar nomination, credited Wyler with teaching him how to act for the screen, despite clashing with Wyler on multiple occasions. Olivier would go on to hold the record for the most nominations in the Best Actor category at nine, tied with Spencer Tracy. Critic Frank S. Nugent wrote in the New York Times, “William Wyler has directed it magnificently. It is, unquestionably, one of the most distinguished pictures of the year.”:88 Variety described Olivier’s performance as “fantastic… he not only brings conviction to his portrayal but translates intelligently its mystical quality.”:93
Five years later, in 1944, while visiting London, Wyler met with Olivier and his actress wife, Vivien Leigh. She invited him to see her performance in The Doctor’s Dilemma, and Olivier asked him to direct him in his planned film, Henry V. But Wyler said he was “not a Shakespearian” and turned down the offer.
In 1950, Wyler and Olivier made a second film together, Carrie, which was not a commercial success. However, some critics state that it nonetheless contains Olivier’s finest film performance, but because of its old-fashioned story, the film was very under-appreciated::128In critic Michael Billington‘s opinion:
If there were any justice in the world, Laurence Olivier would have got an Oscar for his unforgettable performance in Carrie.:137
Director and screenwriter John Huston had been a close friend of Wyler during his career. When he was twenty-eight and penniless, sleeping in parks in London, Huston returned to Hollywood to see if he could find work. Wyler, four years his senior, had met Huston when he was directing his father, Walter Huston, in A House Divided in 1931, and they got along well. Wyler read dialogue suggestions that Huston had given to his father Walter and hired John to work on the dialogue for the script. He later inspired Huston to become a director and became his “early mentor.”:xiii When America entered World War II in 1941, Wyler, Huston, Anatole Litvakand Frank Capra, by then all directors, enlisted at the same time. Later in his career, Huston recalled his friendship with Wyler during an interview:
Willy was certainly my best friend in the industry…. We seemed instantly to have many things in common…. Willy liked the things that I liked. We’d go down to Mexico. We’d go up in the mountains. And we’d gamble. He was a wonderful companion….He was equally capable of playing Beethoven on his violin, speeding around town on his motorcycle, or schussing down steep virgin snow trails.
In 1941, Wyler directed Mrs. Miniver, based on the 1940 novel; it was the story of a middle-class English family adjusting to the war in Europe and the bombing blitz in London. It starred Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. Pidgeon originally had doubts about taking on the role, until fellow actor Paul Lukas told him, “You will find working with Wyler to be the most delightful experience you ever had, and that’s the way it turned out.” Pidgeon recalls: “One thing that would have been a terrific regret in my life is if I had succeeded in getting out of doing Mrs. Miniver“:335 He received his first Oscar nomination for his role, while his co-star, Greer Garson, won her first and only Academy Award for her performance.
The idea for the film was controversial, since it was intended to make America less isolationist. By portraying the real-life suffering of British citizens in a fictional story, Americans might be more prone to help Britain during their war effort. The film succeeded in its propaganda elements, showing England during its darkest days of the war.:145 Years later, after having been in the war himself, Wyler said that the film “only scratched the surface of war… It was incomplete.”:228
However, before America entered the war in December 1941, all films that could be considered anti-Nazi were banned by the Hays Office.:277 Even the U.S. ambassador to England, Joseph Kennedy, told the studios to stop making pro-British and anti-German films. Kennedy felt that British defeat was imminent. But MGM producer Eddie Mannix disagreed, saying that “someone should salute England. And even if we lose $100,000, that’ll be okay.”:344 Mrs. Miniver went on to win six Academy Awards, becoming the top box office hit of 1942. It was Wyler’s first Academy Award for Best Director.
President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill both loved the film, said historian Emily Yellin, and Roosevelt wanted prints rushed to theaters nationwide. The Voice of America radio network broadcast the minister’s speech from the film, magazines reprinted it, and it was copied onto leaflets and dropped over German-occupied countries. Churchill sent MGM head Louis B. Mayer a telegram claiming that “Mrs. Miniver is propaganda worth 100 battleships.” Bosley Crowther wrote in his New York Times review that Mrs. Miniverwas the finest film yet made about the war, “and a most exalting tribute to the British.”
Between 1942 and 1945 Wyler volunteered to serve as a major in the United States Army Air Forces and directed a pair of documentaries: The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944), about a Boeing B-17 and its U.S. Army Air Force crew; and Thunderbolt!(1947), highlighting a P-47 fighter–bomber squadron in the Mediterranean. Wyler filmed The Memphis Belle at great personal risk, flying over enemy territory on actual bombing missions in 1943; on one flight, Wyler lost consciousness from lack of oxygen. Wyler’s associate, cinematographer Harold J. Tannenbaum, a First Lieutenant, was shot down and perished during the filming. Director Steven Spielberg
Working on Thunderbolt! Wyler was exposed to such lens noise that he passed out. When he awoke, he found he was deaf in one ear. Partial hearing with the aid of a hearing aid eventually came back years later. Wyler returned from the War a disabled veteran.
Returning from the War and unsure whether he could work again, Wyler turned to a subject that he knew well and directed a film which captured the mood of the nation as it turned to peace after the war, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). This story of the homecoming of three veterans from World War II dramatized the problems of returning veterans in their adjustment back to civilian life. Arguably his most personal film, Best Years drew on Wyler’s own experience returning home to his family after three years on the front. The Best Years of Our Lives won the Academy Award for Best Director (Wyler’s second) and Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as seven other Academy Awards.
In 1949 Wyler 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. The film is considered by some to be a highlight in her career, “that could strike envy even in the most versatile and successful actress,” according to one critic.
De Havilland had seen the play in New York and felt she could play the lead perfectly. She then called Wyler to convince him to have Paramount buy the film rights. He flew to New York to see the play, and moved by the story, convinced the studio to buy it. Along with de Havilland, he managed to get Montgomery Clift and Ralph Richardson to co-star.:265
In 1951, Wyler produced and directed Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker in Detective Story, portraying a day in the lives of the various people in a detective squad. Lee Grant and Joseph Wiseman made their screen debuts in the film, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including one for Grant. Critic Bosley Crowther lauded the film, describing it as “a brisk, absorbing film by producer-director William Wyler, with the help of a fine, responsive cast.”
During the immediate postwar period, Wyler directed a handful of critically acclaimed and influential films. Roman Holiday(1953) introduced Audrey Hepburn to American audiences in her first starring role, winning her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Wyler said of Hepburn years later, when describing truly great actresses, “In that league there’s only ever been Garbo, and the other Hepburn, and maybe Bergman. It’s a rare quality, but boy, do you know when you’ve found it.” The film was an instant hit, also winning for Best Costume Design (Edith Head), and Best Writing (Dalton Trumbo). Hepburn would eventually do three movies with Wyler, who her son said was one of the most important directors in her career.
Friendly Persuasion (1956) was awarded the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) at the Cannes Film Festival. And in 1959, Wyler directed Ben-Hur, which won 11 Oscars, a feat unequaled until Titanic in 1997. He had also assisted in the production of the 1925 version.
Wyler and its star, Charlton Heston, both knew what the film meant for MGM, which had massive investments in its final outcome, with the film’s budget having gone from $7 million to $15 million, and the fact that MGM was already in dire financial straits. They were aware that if it failed at the box office, MGM might go bankrupt.
The film, like many epics, was difficult to make. When Heston was asked which scene he enjoyed doing most, he said “I didn’t enjoy any of it. It was hard work.” Part of the reason for that was the financial stress placed on making the film a success. With a cast of fifteen thousand extras, a leading star, and being shot on 70mm film with stereophonic tracks, it was the most expensive film ever made at that time. The nine-minute chariot race, for example, took six months to film.
Ben-Hur became a great box office success. Wyler won his third Academy Award for Best Director and Charlton Heston his first and only Academy Award as its star. Heston recalled in his autobiography that at first he had doubts about taking the role. But his agent advised him otherwise: “Don’t you know that actors take parts with Wyler without even reading the damn script? I’m telling you, you have to do this picture!”
Kirk Douglas had lobbied Wyler, who directed him in Detective Story in 1951, for the title role, but only after Wyler had already decided on Heston. He offered him instead ofthe role of Messala, which Douglas rejected. Douglas then went on to star in Spartacus (1960).
Ben-Hur cost $15 million to produce but earned $47 million by the end of 1961 and $90 million worldwide. Audiences mobbed movie theaters in the months after it opened. Critic Pauline Kael praised Wyler’s achievement:
I admire the artist who can make something good for the art house audience; but I also applaud the commercial heroism of a director who can steer a huge production and keep his sanity and perspective and decent human feelings beautifully intact.:96
In 1968 he directed Barbra Streisand in her debut film, Funny Girl, costarring Omar Sharif, which became a huge financial success.:385 It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and like Audrey Hepburn in her first starring role, Streisand won as Best Actress, becoming the thirteenth actor to win an Oscar under his direction.:385
Streisand had already starred in the Broadway musical of Funny Girl, with seven hundred performances. And although she knew the part well, Wyler still had to mold her stage role for the screen. She naturally wanted to be involved in the film’s production, often asking Wyler questions, but they got along well. “Things were ironed out when she discovered some of us knew what we were doing,” kidded Wyler.
What originally attracted him to direct Streisand was similar to what attracted him about Audrey Hepburn, who had also been new to film audiences. He met with Streisand during her musical run and became excited at the prospect of guiding another new star into an award-winning performance. He sensed and admired that Streisand had the same kind of dedication to being an actress as did Bette Davis, early in her career. “It just needed to be controlled and toned down for the movie camera.” Wyler said afterwards:
Wyler had worked with cinematographer Gregg Toland for six of his films, mostly in the 1930s. Toland used deep focus photographic technique for most of them, whereby he could keep all objects on the screen, whether foreground or background, in sharp focus at the same time. The technique gives the illusion of depth, and therefore makes the scene more true to life.:77
A perfectionist, Wyler earned the nickname “40-take Wyler”. On the set of Jezebel, Wyler forced Henry Fonda through 40 takes of one particular scene, his only guidance being “Again!” after each take. When Fonda asked for more direction, Wyler responded, “It stinks.” Similarly, when Charlton Heston quizzed the director about the supposed shortcomings of his performance in Ben-Hur, Wyler simply told Heston “Be better!” However, Heston notes that by the time a scene is done, regardless of how hard it was to do, it always came off well:
The only answer I have is that his taste is impeccable and every actor knows it. Your faith in his taste and what it will do for your performance is what makes casting a Wyler picture a cinch…doing a film for Wyler is like getting the works in a Turkish bath. You darn near drown, but you come out smelling like a rose.”:351
Fourteen actors won Oscars under Wyler’s direction, including Bette Davis in Jezebel (1938) and her nomination for The Letter(1940). Davis summed up their work together: “It was he who helped me to realize my full potential as an actress. I met my match in this exceptionally creative and talented director.”:79
Other Oscar winners were Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress (1949), Audrey Hepburn in her debut film, Roman Holiday(1953), Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur (1959), and Barbra Streisand in her debut film, Funny Girl (1968).
Wyler’s films garnered more awards for participating artists and actors than any other director’s in the history of Hollywood.He received 12 Oscar nominations for Best Director in total, while dozens of his collaborators and actors won Oscars or were nominated. In 1965, Wyler won the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for career achievement. Eleven years later, he received the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. In addition to his Best Picture and Best Director Oscar wins, 13 of Wyler’s films earned Best Picture nominations. Other late Wyler films include The Children’s Hour (1961), which was nominated for five Academy Awards. Later films included The Collector (1963), Funny Girl (1968), and his final film, The Liberation of L.B. Jones (1970).
Personal life and death
Wyler was briefly married to actress Margaret Sullavan (from November 25, 1934 – March 13, 1936) and married actress Margaret “Talli” Tallichet on October 23, 1938. The couple remained together until his death; they had five children: Catherine, Judith, William Jr., Melanie and David. Catherine said during an interview that her mother played an important part in his career, often being his “gatekeeper” and his reader of scripts presented to him.
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. Three days later, he died from a heart attack. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, near his older brother, Robert Wyler, sister-in-law, actress Cathy O’Donnell and his son, William “Billy” Wyler, Jr in Glendale, California.
Honors and awards
Wyler is the most nominated director in Academy Awards history with 12 nominations. He won the Academy Award for Best Direction on three occasions, for his direction of Ben-Hur, The Best Years of Our Lives, and Mrs. Miniver. He is tied with Frank Capra and behind John Ford, who won four Oscars in this category.
He has the distinction of having directed more actors to Oscar-nominated performances than any other director in history: thirty-six. Out of these nominees, fourteen went on to win Oscars. He received the fourth AFI Life Achievement Award in 1976. Among those who thanked him for directing her in her debut film, was Barbra Streisand.
|1939||Wuthering Heights||Best Director||Nominated|
|1940||The Letter||Best Director||Nominated|
|1941||The Little Foxes||Best Director||Nominated|
|1942||Mrs. Miniver||Best Director||Won|
|1946||The Best Years of Our Lives||Best Director||Won|
|1949||The Heiress||Best Motion Picture||Nominated|
|1952||Detective Story||Best Director||Nominated|
|1953||Roman Holiday||Best Motion Picture||Nominated|
|1957||Friendly Persuasion||Best Motion Picture||Nominated|
|1965||The Collector||Best Director||Nominated|
|Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award||Won|
|Directors Guild of America|
|1952||Detective Story||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Nominated|
|1954||Roman Holiday||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Nominated|
|1957||Friendly Persuasion||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Nominated|
|1959||The Big Country||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Nominated|
|1960||Ben-Hur||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Won|
|1962||The Children’s Hour||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Nominated|
|1966||Lifetime Achievement Award|
|1969||Funny Girl||Outstanding Directorial Achievement||Nominated|
This is a list of films directed by William Wyler.
|1925||The Crook Buster||Universal||Western||Jack Mower, Janet Gaynor||UMS*|
|1926||The Gunless Bad Man||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1926||Ridin’ for Love||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1926||The Fire Barrier||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1926||The Pinnacle Rider||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1926||Martin of the Mounted||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1926||The Stolen Ranch||Universal||Western||UBSS|
|1927||The Two Fister||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||Kelcy Gets His Man||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||The Silent Partner||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||The Haunted Homestead||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||The Lone Star||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||The Ore Raiders||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||The Home Trail||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||The Phantom Outlaw||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||The Square Shooter||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||The Horse Trader||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||Daze of the West||Universal||Western||UMS|
|1927||The Border Cavalier||Universal||Western||UBSS|
|1927||Desert Dust||Universal||Western||Ted Wells|
|1928||Thunder Riders||Universal||Western||Ted Wells|
|1928||Anybody Here Seen Kelly?||Universal||Comedy||Bessie Love, Tom Moore|
|1929||The Shakedown||Universal||Drama||James Murray, Barbara Kent||Part-Talking film|
|1929||The Love Trap||Universal||Comedy||Laura La Plante, Neil Hamilton||Part-Talking film|
- * Universal’s Mustang Series. Wyler made 21 two-reeler films for this series, all with a duration of 24 minutes.
- ** Universal’s Blue Streak Series. Wyler made 6 five-reeler films for this series, all with a duration of an hour.
- Freer, Ian. Movie Makers: 50 Iconic Directors. London: Quercus Publishers (2009) ISBN 978-1-84724-512-0
- son David William Wyler
- Wakeman, John, ed. World Film Directors: Vol. I, 1890–1945. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1987. ISBN 978-0-8242-0757-1.
- Madsen, Axel. William Wyler: the Authorized Biography. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1973. ISBN 0-491-01302-7
- Herman, Jan. A Talent for Trouble: The Life of Hollywood’s Most Acclaimed Director. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. ISBN 0-399-14012-3
- Ina.fr, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel – (1970-01-01). “William Wyler à propos de ses origines et de ses films”. Ina.fr (in French). Retrieved 2017-05-09.
- Dodsworth (1936) – TCM
- Wuthering Heights (1939) -Official Trailer
- Photo of William Wyler and cinematographer Greg Toland discussing Wuthering Heights
- Photo of William Wyler directing Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights
- Photo of William Wyler going over a scene with Bette Davis
- Jezebel (1938) – Trailer 1, Warner Movies
- Jezebel (1938) – Trailer 2, Digicom TV
- Bette Davis interview on Merv Griffin Show in 1972
- Bette Davis Accepts the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1977
- Vermilye, Jerry. The Complete Films of Laurence Olivier, Citadel Press (1992)
- Miller, Gabriel: William Wyler: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Most Celebrated Director. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2013. ISBN 978-0-8131-4209-8
- Candid photo of William Wyler with Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, and their daughter Suzanne Farrington
- Carrie (1952) compilation of clips
- Sinyard, Neil. A Wonderful Heart: The Films of William Wyler, McFarland (2013) p. 216
- Huston, John. John Huston: Interviews, Univ. Press of Mississippi (2001)
- Mintz, Steven; Roberts, Randy W. Hollywood’s America: Twentieth-Century America Through Film, John Wiley & Sons (2010) p. 148
- Meyers, Jeffrey. John Huston: Courage and Art, Random House (2011) p. 37
- Hay, Peter. MGM: When the Lion Roars, Turner Publications (1991) ISBN 978-1-878685-04-9
- Photo of William Wyler directing Greer Garson
- Troyan, Michael. A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson, Univ. Press of Kentucky (1999)
- Mrs. Miniver, official trailer (1942)
- Eyman, Scott. Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Simon & Schuster (2005)
- Wapshott, Nicholas. The Sphinx: Franklin Roosevelt, the Isolationists, and the Road to World War II, W.W. Norton & Co. (2015) p. 234, ISBN 978-0393088885.
- Candid photo of Wyler, Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon taking a break
- Yellin, Emily. Our Mother’s War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II, Simon & Schuster (2004), p. 100.
- Troyan, Michael. A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson, Univ. of Kentucky Press (1999), e-book. ASIN: B00A6IOY1W.
- The Memphis Belle – A Story Of A Flying Fortress (1944), full film
- “The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944)”
- “Review: ‘Five Came Back,’ and Inspired the Likes of Spielberg”, New York Times, March 30, 2017
- David William Wyler
- Harris, Mark. Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War. New York: Penguin Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1594204302
- The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946) – trailer
- “Olivia de Havilland”, Los Angeles Times
- Photo of William Wyler directing Olivia de Havilland in a scene from The Heiress
- Photo of William Wyler directing Montgomery Clift and Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress
- The Heiress – trailer
- Olivia de Havilland receiving Best Actress Award for The Heiress
- Interview: Lee Grant, “Inside the Actors Studio” 1998
- Crowther, Bosley. Detective Story. The New York Times film review, November 7, 1951. Last accessed: December 26, 2007.
- Roman Holiday -trailer, Paramount Movies
- “Audrey Hepburn Wins Best Actress: 1954 Oscars”
- Nourmand, Tony. Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years, Chronicle Books (2007) p. 16
- Ferrer, Sean Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers, Simon & Schuster (2003) ebook
- Photo of William Wyler with Audrey Hepburn
- Schneider, Stephen Jay. 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, 6th edition, Barron’s Educational Series (2015) p. 354
- Bodaken, Bruce. The Managerial Moment of Truth: The Essential Step in Helping People Improve, Simon & Schuster (2006) p. 159
- Kinn, Gail; Piazza, Jim. Academy Awards®: The Complete Unofficial History, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (2014) p. 135
- McManus, George. A Conservative Christian Reviews the Greatest Movies Ever Made, Xulon Press (2003) p. 42
- William Wyler receiving Oscar for Ben-Hur
- Charlton Heston accepting Best Actor Award for Ben Hur, Oscars
- Ben-Hur (1959) – trailer
- Richards, Jeffrey. Hollywood’s Ancient Worlds, Continuum Books (2008) p. 84
- Photo of Kirk Douglas visiting the set of Ben-Hur, with William Wyler and Charlton Heston
- Photo of members of the cast discussing Ben-Hur
- Photo of Wyler with cast, Haya Harareet seated, and producer Sam Zimbalist(right)
- Phillips, Gene D. Exiles in Hollywood: Major European Film Directors in America, Lehigh University Press (1998)
- Funny Girl (1968) trailer
- “Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand Tie for Best Actress: 1969 Oscars”
- Photo of Wyler directing Streisand and Omar Sharif
- Waldman, Allison J. The Barbara Streisand Scrapbook, Citadel Press (2001) p. 48
- Photo of Wyler and Streisand walking on the studio backlot
- Photo of Wyler and Streisand sharing some laughs on the studio backlot
- Nickens, Christopher; Swenson, Karen. The Films of Barbra Streisand, Citadel Press (2000) p. 48
- Photo of Wyler and Streisand discussing her role
- Wyler profile at palzoo.net Retrieved November 12, 2011.
- The Letter (1940) – Trailer, Warner Movies
- Photo of William Wyler directing Bette Davis in The Little Foxes (1941)
- William Wyler, Director, Great American Things, Dec. 9, 2011
- William Wyler movies, Ultimate Movie Rankings
- Photo of William Wyler with the co-stars Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine ofThe Children’s Hour. Joining them in the photo are Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, who visited the set.
- Photo of William Wyler with first wife, Margaret Sullavan
- Early photo of William Wyler with wife, Margaret Tallichet
- Photo of William Wyler with wife, Margaret Tallichet
- “Catherine Wyler Talks the Oscars and Growing Up with Hollywood Royalty”, 6 min.
- “Directed by William Wyler”, PBS
- “William Wyler (1902 – 1981) – Find A Grave Memorial”. www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- “Robert Wyler (1900 – 1971) – Find A Grave Memorial”. www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- “Cathy O’Donnell (1923 – 1970) – Find A Grave Memorial”. www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- “William Wyler, Jr (1946 – 1949) – Find A Grave Memorial”. www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- “William Wyler Accepts the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1976”, AFI
- Barbra Streisand speaking at the AFI Award tribute to William Wyler
- “William Wyler | Hollywood Walk of Fame”. www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
- “William Wyler”. latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-05-01.