William Wyler was born Wilhelm Weiller in the Alsace-Lorraine, specifically Mulhouse, Haut-Rhin, France (which, at the time, was part of the German Empire), in 1902. He was related to Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Studios, through his mother. Wyler immigrated to the U.S. in 1920, at the age of 18, and began working in the New York offices of Universal as an errand boy.
Wyler became a second unit director in 1923 and his directorial debut was two years later. At 23, he was the youngest director on the Universal Studios lot.
He later signed with Samuel Goldwyn and quickly became one of the most lauded directors of the 20th century.
Wyler won the Academy Award three times for Best Director for:
He received a Best Director Oscar nomination another 9 times (see left column).
Between 1942 and 1945, Wyler served as a major in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Wyler married the actress Margaret Sullavan in 1934. They were divorced in 1936. He then married the actress Margaret Tallichet in 1938. They raised four children. Catharine Wyler is an actress/producer and Judy Wyler worked as an actress at one time.
He died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, in 1981. Wyler was 79 years old.