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Actresses who appeared with Billy Wilder on screen:

Audrey Hepburn
Marilyn Monroe
Susan Sarandon
Lauren Holly
Angelica Huston
Anjelica Huston
Shirley McLaine
Shirley MacLaine
Jaqueline Bisset
Jacqueline Bisset
Julia Ormond
Ursula Andress
Olivia de Havilland
Angie Dickinson
Kim Novak
James Cagney

Billy Wilder
Birthday: June 22, 1906

Birth Place: Sucha, Galicia, Austria-Hungary [now Sucha beskidzka, Poland]
Height: 5' 1"

Below is a complete filmography (list of movies he's appeared in) for Billy Wilder. If you have any corrections or additions, please email us at corrections@actorsofhollywood.com. We'd also be interested in any trivia or other information you have.



One of Hollywood's most consistent and enduring filmmakers, Billy Wilder was also among its most daring. In feature after feature, in a wide variety of styles and genres, he explored the taboo subjects of the day with insight, wit, and trenchant cynicism; adultery, alcoholism, prostitution — no topic was too controversial or too racy for Wilder's films. Unlike the majority of Hollywood's other historically provocative voices, however, he was a major commercial success as well as a critical favorite, with two of his features garnering Best Picture Oscars and numerous others honored with various Academy nominations. Sophisticated and acerbic, his intricate narratives, sparkling dialogue, and painterly visuals combined to illuminate the darker impulses of modern American society with rare brilliance.He was born Samuel Wilder in Sucha, Austria. After first studying law, he began a career as a journalist with a Vienna newspaper, later relocating to Berlin as a reporter for the city's largest tabloid. By 1929, he was working as a screenwriter, often collaborating with director Robert Siodmak. He swiftly became one of the German film industry's most prolific and sought-after writers, but Adolf Hitler's 1933 rise to power effectively brought his career to a halt as Wilder, a Jew, was forced to flee for his life.His first stop was France, where in 1934 he made his debut behind the camera, co-directing Mauvaise Graine with Alexander Esway. He soon landed in the United States, settling in Hollywood to begin his work anew. After moving in with Peter Lorre, Wilder set about learning English, eventually gaining entry into the American film industry with a 1934 adaptation of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein musical Music in the Air, directed by Joe May and starring Gloria Swanson. He worked on a number of other films including 1935's The Lottery Lover and 1937's Champagne Waltz prior to forging a writing partnership with Charles Brackett on 1938's That Certain Age. The Wilder/Brackett team quickly emerged as one of Hollywood's most successful pairings, with credits including Mitchell Leisen's 1939 Midnight, the 1939 Ernst Lubitsch classic Ninotchka, and Howard Hawks' stellar 1941 effort Ball of Fire, winning widespread acclaim for their distinctively sophisticated touch. Ultimately, Wilder's success as a writer also allowed him the opportunity to direct, and he bowed in 1942 with the Ginger Rogers vehicle The Major and the Minor. The wartime thriller Five Graves to Cairo followed in 1943, and the next year Wilder helmed his first classic, the masterful film noir Double Indemnity. Even more powerful was its follow-up, 1945's The Lost Weekend, a remarkably gritty and realistic portrayal of alcoholism which won four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (for Wilder and Brackett), and Best Actor (Ray Milland).Wartime duties kept Wilder out of the filmmaking arena for several years, and he did not direct another film before 1948's The Emperor Waltz. Its follow-up, A Foreign Affair, earned the wrath of reviewers over its blackly comic treatment of life in postwar Berlin, but it was later reappraised as one of his stronger efforts. The 1950 Sunset Boulevard, on the other hand, was hailed as a classic immediately upon release, and the tale of a faded movie star (Swanson) — the final screenplay from the Wilder/Brackett team — went on to win the Academy Award for Best Screenplay. The bitter The Big Carnival followed in 1951, with the wartime dramatic comedy Stalag 17 winning star William Holden a Best Actor Oscar two years later. Upon completing the 1954 romantic comedy Sabrina, Wilder directed 1955's The Seven Year Itch, the first of his films to star Marilyn Monroe, and after a trio of 1957 efforts — Love in the Afternoon (the first of many projects with new writing partner I.A.L. Diamond), the Charles Lindbergh biography The Spirit of St. Louis, and Witness for the Prosecution — he closed out a decade of sustained excellence with the classic 1959 sex farce Some Like It Hot. The Apartment (1960) was the second of Wilder's movies to garner a Best Picture Oscar, and was followed a year later by One, Two, Three, which featured the final starring role of Jimmy Cagney.In comparison to the prolific brilliance of the previous two decades, Wilder's work during the 1960s frequently failed to measure up to his finest work, as the dark edginess of his halcyon years increasingly gave way to sentimentality. In 1963, Irma La Douce took a rare beating from critics, with the next year's Kiss Me, Stupid! faring no better. His 1966 The Fortune Cookie was a considerable return to form, but apart from a writing credit on the 1967 spoof Casino Royale, Wilder's name was missing from the screen for the remainder of the decade, and only in 1970 did he return with The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. After 1972's Avanti!, Wilder's pace continued to dwindle during the 1970s, with only two more features, 1974's The Front Page and 1978's Fedora, issued during the remainder of the decade. With the release of 1981's Buddy Buddy, he announced his retirement from filmmaking. In 1986, he was honored with the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award, and two years later the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestowed upon him its Irving G. Thalberg Award.

Movie Credits
Sabrina (1995)
[ Harrison Ford ][ Paul Giamatti ][ Greg Kinnear ][ John Williams ][ Sydney Pollack ]
Witness for the Prosecution (1982)
[ Donald Pleasence ][ Beau Bridges ][ Lloyd Bridges ][ Michael Gough ]
Buddy Buddy (1981)
[ Jack Lemmon ][ Walter Matthau ][ Klaus Kinski ][ Ed Begley Jr. ][ Dana Elcar ]
Fedora (1978)
[ Henry Fonda ][ William Holden ][ Stephen Collins ]
The Front Page (1974)
[ Jack Lemmon ][ Walter Matthau ][ Charles Durning ][ Austin Pendleton ][ Harold Gould ]
Double Indemnity (1973)
[ Richard Crenna ][ Lee J. Cobb ][ John Fiedler ]
Avanti! (1972)
[ Jack Lemmon ]
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
[ Christopher Lee ]
Casino Royale (1967)
[ Woody Allen ][ Orson Welles ][ Peter Sellers ][ Peter O'Toole ][ William Holden ]
The Fortune Cookie (1966)
[ Jack Lemmon ][ Walter Matthau ]
Ates gibi kadin (1965)
Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)
[ Dean Martin ][ Ray Walston ][ Mel Blanc ][ Henry Gibson ][ John Fiedler ]
Irma la Douce (1963)
[ James Caan ][ Jack Lemmon ][ Bill Bixby ]
One, Two, Three (1961)
[ Red Buttons ]
The Apartment (1960)
[ Jack Lemmon ][ Ray Walston ][ Fred MacMurray ]
Ninotchka (1960)
Ocean's Eleven (1960)
[ Dean Martin ][ Sammy Davis Jr. ][ Cesar Romero ][ Norman Fell ]
Some Like It Hot (1959)
[ Jack Lemmon ][ Tony Curtis ]
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
[ Tyrone Power ][ Charles Laughton ]
Love in the Afternoon (1957)
[ Gary Cooper ]
The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)
[ James Stewart ][ Dabbs Greer ]
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Double Indemnity (1954)
Hold Back the Dawn (1954)
Emil und die Detektive (1954)
Sabrina (1954)
[ Humphrey Bogart ][ William Holden ]
Stalag 17 (1953)
[ William Holden ][ Peter Graves ]
Ace in the Hole (1951)
[ Kirk Douglas ]
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
[ William Holden ][ Buster Keaton ]
The Emperor Waltz (1948)
A Song Is Born (1948)
[ Danny Kaye ]
A Foreign Affair (1948)
The Bishop's Wife (1947)
[ Cary Grant ][ David Niven ]
The Lost Weekend (1945)
[ Ray Milland ]
Double Indemnity (1944)
[ Fred MacMurray ]
Five Graves to Cairo (1943)
The Major and the Minor (1942)
[ Ray Milland ]
Ball of Fire (1941)
[ Gary Cooper ][ Dana Andrews ]
Hold Back the Dawn (1941)
Arise, My Love (1940)
[ Ray Milland ]
Rhythm on the River (1940)
[ Bing Crosby ][ William Frawley ]
Ninotchka (1939)
[ Bela Lugosi ]
What a Life (1939)
[ Jackie Cooper ]
Midnight (1939)
[ Don Ameche ]
That Certain Age (1938)
[ Jackie Cooper ]
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938)
[ Gary Cooper ][ David Niven ]
Champagne Waltz (1937)
[ Fred MacMurray ]
The Lottery Lover (1935)
Under Pressure (1935)
[ Ward Bond ]
Emil and the Detectives (1935)
Music in the Air (1934)
One Exciting Adventure (1934)
Mauvaise graine (1934)
Adorable (1933)
Was Frauen träumen (1933)
[ Peter Lorre ]
Madame wünscht keine Kinder (1933)
Madame ne veut pas d'enfants (1933)
Happy Ever After (1932)
Un rêve blond (1932)
Un peu d'amour (1932)
Blaue vom Himmel, Das (1932)
Scampolo, ein Kind der Straße (1932)
Blonder Traum, Ein (1932)
Es war einmal ein Walzer (1932)
Sieger, Der (1932)
Where Is the Lady? (1932)
Emil und die Detektive (1931)
Princesse, à vos ordres! (1931)
Falsche Ehemann, Der (1931)
Seitensprünge (1931)
Ihre Hoheit befiehlt (1931)
Mann, der seinen Mörder sucht, Der (1931)
Burschenlied aus Heidelberg, Ein (1930)
Menschen am Sonntag (1930)
Teufelsreporter, Der (1929)


  • Father of the twins Victoria and Vincent (born 1939), their mother was Judith. Vincent died shortly after birth.
  • Met Audrey Young at Paramount Studios on set for The Lost Weekend (1945), as his divorce from Judith was in progress and he had a liaison with the actress Doris Dowling.
  • He used "Billie" as his first name until his emigration in 1933.
  • Estranged brother of producer/director W. Lee Wilder, uncle of Myles Wilder.
  • Long famous for the modern-art collection he put together over his lifetime (he sold only a portion of it in 1989 for .6 million)
  • Awarded Austria's Golden Order, First Class for Meritorious Services. [1991]
  • Dated Hedy Lamarr before his second marriage in 1949.
  • An inveterate clotheshorse, at age 83 he still owned over 60 cashmere sweaters.
  • Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe begged Wilder to appear in Jerry Maguire (1996), but he turned them down flat.
  • He wanted to direct Schindler's List (1993), but Steven Spielberg preferred doing it himself. Wilder has been quoted saying it would have become his most personal film.
  • Had a long-standing partnership with screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond, with whom he won an Oscar for The Apartment (1960).
  • At least three of his films have been made into Broadway musicals. The Apartment (1960) was the basis for "Promises, Promises" in 1968. Some Like It Hot (1959) was the basis for "Sugar" in 1973. And Sunset Blvd. (1950) was adapted into a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1993.
  • Once told Billy Bob Thornton that he was too ugly to be an actor and he should write a screenplay for himself in which he could exploit his less than perfect features. Thornton later collected an Oscar for his Sling Blade (1996) screenplay.
  • At one point he was slated to direct a movie about the Marx brothers running the United Nations. This was around 1960. The project fell apart after Chico Marx's death in 1961, which was followed by Harpo Marx's death in 1964.
  • He collaborated closely with Steven Spielberg on the script for Schindler's List (1993), and was one of several directors considered to direct it (Roman Polanski and Martin Scorsese both turned down the project). Although Wilder strongly considered directing Schindler's List (1993), he felt he was a little too old (he had already retired) and the subject was almost too personal (both his mother and grandmother were killed in the Holocaust). It was ultimately Wilder who told Spielberg he should direct it.
  • His mother and step-father died at Auschwitz concentration camp.
  • In 1949 he married Audrey Young, an actress and former singer with the Tommy Dorsey band, whom he met on the set of The Lost Weekend (1945).
  • In the early 1950s, Wilder had planned on doing a film with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The film was to open with Stan and Ollie each sleeping in one of the "o"s of the Hollywood sign. The plot centered on a woman coming between them. The film was never made due to Hardy's failing health.
  • His idol and mentor was German director Ernst Lubitsch. Wilder always kept a sign hanging in his office that asked, "How would Lubitsch do it?"
  • Although born as Samuel Wilder, he was called "Billy" by his mother from infancy and it stuck. Some theorize it was due to her fascination with the western character Buffalo Bill Cody, but it may have been just because she thought it sounded American (she was obsessed with American culture).
  • Was voted the 24th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
  • Because of his rounded face and non-stop elfin energy, people often pictured him as short and wiry, but he was in fact near 6 feet tall (taller than his favorite star, Jack Lemmon).
  • Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 1206-1210. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
  • Liked the name "Sheldrake" so much that he used it in three different films, most prominently in The Apartment (1960), but also in Sunset Blvd. (1950) and Kiss Me, Stupid (1964).
  • Was the subject of the 1999 book "Conversations with Wilder," written by director/writer Cameron Crowe.
  • It is thought that Wilder gained his acerbic view of people early on. His family, Austrian Jews, traveled constantly, and Wilder almost never made friends among his peers at school and instead found himself the subject of persecution as both a Jew and a foreigner.
  • Not having seen his parents since he went to Berlin to make films, he joined American patrols through war-torn Europe shortly after the war. Through intense research he found out that both his mother and grandmother were killed in concentration camps, a subject that he usually declined to discuss. However, when shooting a film with Wilder, an actor expressed sympathy for his own Nazi character, to which the usually cool-headed Wilder roared, "Those bastards killed my mother!!!"
  • Wilder had tried to enter the U.S. via Mexico, where U.S. officials repeatedly denied him entry for several months. At the point of losing hope, he went to a new immigration officer who asked him his profession. After stating he was a filmmaker, the officer stamped his papers, and upon entering the U.S. the officer said,"Make good ones, then."
  • He was an avid bridge and poker player. A few of his films feature scenes where characters play cards (Sunset Blvd. (1950), Stalag 17 (1953), The Apartment (1960)).
  • He directed 14 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Barbara Stanwyck, Ray Milland, William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Robert Strauss, Audrey Hepburn, Charles Laughton , Elsa Lanchester, Jack Lemmon, Jack Kruschen, Shirley MacLaine and Walter Matthau. Milland, Holden and Matthau won Oscars for their performances in a Wilder film.
  • He is among an elite group of five directors who have won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay (Original/Adapted) for the same film. In 1961 he won all three for The Apartment (1960). The others are Leo McCarey, Francis Ford Coppola, James L. Brooks and Peter Jackson.
  • Is portrayed by Howard Caine in Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980) (TV), by Allan Corduner in Norma Jean & Marilyn (1996) (TV) and by Peter Feder in The Audrey Hepburn Story (2000) (TV)
  • He directed Jack Lemmon in 7 movies: The Apartment (1960), Avanti! (1972), Buddy Buddy (1981), The Fortune Cookie (1966), The Front Page (1974), Irma la Douce (1963) and Some Like It Hot (1959).
  • As a writer, he had odd habits. On the one hand, he hated writing alone, so he almost always used a partner, someone to be in the room with him while he worked. On the other hand, many of the partners complained that if he heard an idea he did not like, he could be cruel and insulting. Many writers quit on him because they could not take his abuse.
  • One of the most eclectic writer directors ever, excelling in film noir (Double Indemnity) drama (Lost Weekend) comedy (Some Like it Hot) and war (Stalag 17).
  • Frequently casts "Marilyn Monroe' , "William Holden' , Jack Lemmon and Fred MacMurray.
  • He died the same day as Dudley Moore and Milton Berle. He and Moore both died of pneumonia.
  • In his last years he became patron of the "Billy-Wilder-Institute" located in Germany, a film school founded to educate only producers and screenwriters. The school was closed after just two years because of the death of its founder and dean Lothar Rhode.
  • He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1993 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.

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