Robert Wise, a four-time Academy Award winner whose epic 65-year career ranged from editing Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" to directing the quintessential 1960s musical "The Sound of Music" to launching
Robert Wise, a four-time Academy Award winner whose epic 65-year career ranged from editing Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" to directing the quintessential 1960s musical "The Sound of Music" to launching the first "Star Trek" film, died yesterday (Sept. 14) of heart failure. He was 91.
Wise died at Los Angeles' UCLA Medical Center, according to family friend Lawrence Mirisch, owner of The Mirisch Agency, a Hollywood talent agency.
The son of a meatpacker, Wise was born Sept. 10, 1914, in Winchester, Ind. He was honored with the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award in 1998, and enjoyed a longevity that few filmmakers achieve.
His resume ranged from his early work as a sound editor on Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals like "The Gay Divorcee" to his collaboration as a film editor with Welles on "Citizen Kane" and "The Magnificent Ambersons" to his emergence as a director, and later producer, of films as varied as "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "I Want to Live!" and "West Side Story," which he co-directed with Jerome Robbins. His filmography covers almost every genre except animation.
Musicals provided him with some of his biggest successes: He won Oscars for directing and best picture in 1962 as "West Side Story" danced across the screen, and he consolidated that success with two directing and best picture Oscars in 1966 for the runaway hit "The Sound of Music."
His big-screen adaptation of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical about the von Trapp Family singers proved disastrous for the film industry, however, as it led to a round of expensive musicals, including Wise's "Star!" that were costly box office flops.
Among Wise's many other films are "The Desert Rats," "Tribute to a Bad Man," "So Big," "Helen of Troy," "This Cold Be the Night," "Until They Sail," "Two for the Seesaw," "Two People," "The Hindenburg" and "Audrey Rose." His last project was 2000's "A Storm in Summer," a television movie he directed from a Rod Serling screenplay.
Information about his survivors was not immediately available.