Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder


6/22/1906, Sucha Beskidzka, Austria-Hungary (now Poland)



Birth Name

Samuel Wilder



Also Known As

Billie Wilder
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Billy was sui generis, a petulant child as an old man, a bitter octogenarian as a youth. A contrarian, a vulgarian, a gentleman. One of the best writers in film history, and a writer who rarely wrote a thing. But ideas, oh the ideas, and the complications, and…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • He was Jack Lemmon's best man for his wedding to Felicia Farr.

    • He loved card games, especially bridge and poker.

    • His idol and mentor was German director Ernst Lubitsch. In his office hung a sign that said, "How would Lubitsch do it?"

    • He was married to Judith Coppicus from December 1936 to 1946, when they divorced. They has two children, twins Victoria and Vincent born in 1939. Vincent died shortly after birth.

    • He wrote and directed Some Like it Hot, which was voted #1 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Greatest Comedies of all time.

    • He made seven movies with Jack Lemmon: Some Like it Hot, The Apartment, Irma La Duce, Avanti, The Front Page, The Fortune Cookie and Buddy, Buddy.

    • Nickname was The Viennese Pixie.

    • Was voted the 24th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.

    • He won three Academy Awards in 1960 for the film The Apartment. He won Best Director, Best Writer and as a producer for Best Picture.

  • Quotes

    • Billy Wilder(accepting the award for Best Picture for The Apartment): It would only be proper to cut it in half and give it to the two most valuable players-Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.

    • Billy Wilder: I have ten commandments. The first nine are, thou shalt not bore. The tenth is, thou shalt have right of final cut.

    • Billy Wilder(about Marilyn Monroe): Breasts like granite and a brain like Swiss cheese.

    • Billy Wilder (regarding the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage production of "Sunset Boulevard"): What they have done is so clever, when you make a film you choose what shot to have, long, medium or close-up, you choose your lens, you have hundreds of ways to determine what the audience will see. On stage you cannot do that. Yet they have still managed to focus the attention where they wanted it to be focused. I wish I could do that.

    • Billy Wilder (regarding directing Cecil B. DeMille in the film "Sunset Boulevard"): I had an agreement with him. I would not tell him how to direct Samson and Delilah. He would not tell me how to direct Sunset Boulevard. He was very professional. I told him what I wanted him to do, he said fine, and asked for a fee of $10,000 which I agreed. Later I had to go back to him to ask for an additional close-up. He said absolutely. That would be another $10,000.

    • Billy Wilder: As you get older you can count on getting hemorrhoids and awards.

    • Billy Wilder (to Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon about their scenes with Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like it Hot"): Don't let me catch you with your thumb up your rear end, 'cause if it happens during a take that Marilyn nails, that's the one I'm printing.

    • Billy Wilder (regarding Marilyn Monroe's performance in "Some Like it Hot"): She had a kind of elegant vulgarity about her. That, I think, was very important. And she automatically knew where the joke was. She did not discuss it. She came for the first rehearsal, and she was absolutely perfect, when she remembered the line.

    • Billy Wilder(regarding his split with writing partner Charles Brackett): It's like a box of matches. You pick up the match and strike it against the box, and there's always fire, but then one day there is just one small corner of that abrasive paper left for you to strike the match on. It was not there anymore. The match wasn't striking.

    • Billy Wilder(regarding the Academy Awards): If you win, by the end of May it's not such a big deal. If you lose, it's not such a big deal either.