William Wellman
William Wellman, the Oscar-winning screenwriter-director of the original A Star Is Born (1937), was called "Wild Bill" during his World War I service as an aviator, a nickname that persisted in Hollywood due to his larger-than-life personality and lifestyle.

A leap-year baby born in 1896 on the 29th of February in Brookline, MA, Wellman was the great-great-great grandson of Francis Lewis, one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Wellman's father was a stockbroker and his mother, the former Cecilia McCarthy, was born in Ireland. Despite an upper-middle-class upbringing, the young Wellman was a hell-raiser. He excelled as an athlete and particularly enjoyed playing ice hockey, but he also enjoyed joyriding in stolen cars at nights.

Fox Films gave Wellman his first directing credit in 1923 with the Buck Jones western Second Hand Love (1923) and, other than the Dustin Farnum picture The Man Who Won (1923), he turned out Jones pictures for the rest of his time at Fox. The studio fired him in 1924 after he asked for a raise after completing The Circus Cowboy (1924), another Buck Jones film. Moving to Columbia, he helmed When Husbands Flirt (1925), then went over to MGM for the slapstick comedy The Boob (1926) before landing at Famous Players-Lasky (now known as Paramount Pictures after its distribution unit), where he directed You Never Know Women (1926) and The Cat's Pajamas (1926). It was as a contract director at the now renamed Paramount-Famous Players-Lasky Corp. that he had his breakout hit, due to his flying background. Paramount entrusted its epic WW I flying epic Wings (1927) to Wellman, and the film went on to become the first Academy Award-winning best picture.

Paramount paid Wellman $250 a week to direct "Wings". He also gave himself a role as a German pilot and flew one of the German planes that landed and rolled over. The massive production employed 3,500 soldiers, 65 pilots, and 165 aircraft.

During World War Two Wellman continued to make outstanding films, including The Ox-Bow Incident (1942) and Story of G.I. Joe (1945), and after the war, he turned out another war classic, Battleground (1949). In the 1950s Wellman's best later films starred John Wayne, including the influential aviation picture The High and the Mighty (1954), for which he received his third and last best director Oscar nomination. His final film hearkened back to his World War One service, Lafayette Escadrille (1958), which featured the unit in which Wellman had flown. He retired as a director after making the film, reportedly enraged at Warner Bros.' post-production tampering with a film that meant so much to him.

Other than David O. Selznick, not many people in Hollywood particularly liked the hell-raising iconoclast Wellman. Louis B. Mayer's daughter Irene Mayer Selznick, the first wife of David O. Selznick, said that Wellman was "a terror, a shoot-up-the-town fellow, trying to be a great big masculine I-don't-know-what". The Directors Guild of America in 1973 honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. [IMDb]

1958 Lafayette Escadrille
1958 Darby's Rangers
1956 Good-bye, My Lady
1955 Blood Alley
1954 Track of the Cat
1954 Light's Diamond Jubilee (TV Movie documentary)
1954 Ring of Fear (uncredited)
1954 The High and the Mighty
1953 Island in the Sky
1952 My Man and I
1951 Westward the Women
1951 It's a Big Country: An American Anthology
1951 Across the Wide Missouri
1950 The Happy Years
1950 The Next Voice You Hear...
1949 Battleground
1948 Yellow Sky
1948 The Iron Curtain
1947 Magic Town
1946 Gallant Journey
1945 Story of G.I. Joe
1945 This Man's Navy
1944 Buffalo Bill
1943 Lady of Burlesque
1942 The Ox-Bow Incident
1942 Thunder Birds: Soldiers of the Air
1942 The Great Man's Lady
1942 Roxie Hart
1941 Reaching for the Sun
1939 The Light That Failed
1939 Beau Geste
1938 Men with Wings
1937 Nothing Sacred
1937 A Star Is Born
1936 Tarzan Escapes (uncredited)
1936 Small Town Girl
1936 Robin Hood of El Dorado
1935 Call of the Wild (as William Wellman)
1934 The President Vanishes
1934 Stingaree (as William Wellman)
1934 Viva Villa! (uncredited)
1934 Looking for Trouble (as William Wellman)
1933 Female (17 scenes, uncredited)
1933 College Coach
1933 Wild Boys of the Road
1933 Midnight Mary (as William Wellman)
1933 Heroes for Sale
1933 Lilly Turner
1933 Central Airport
1932 Frisco Jenny
1932 The Conquerors
1932 The Purchase Price
1932 Love Is a Racket
1932 So Big!
1932 The Hatchet Man
1931 Safe in Hell
1931 The Star Witness
1931 Night Nurse
1931 The Public Enemy
1931 Other Men's Women
1930 Maybe It's Love
1930 Young Eagles
1930 Dangerous Paradise
1929 Woman Trap
1929 The Man I Love
1929 Chinatown Nights
1928 Beggars of Life
1928 Ladies of the Mob
1928 The Legion of the Condemned
1927 Wings
1926 The Cat's Pajamas
1926 You Never Know Women
1926 The Boob
1925 When Husbands Flirt (as William Wellman)
1924 The Circus Cowboy (as William Wellman)
1924 The Vagabond Trail
1924 Not a Drum Was Heard
1923 Cupid's Fireman
1923 Big Dan
1923 Second Hand Love (as William Wellman)
1923 The Man Who Won
1920 The Twins of Suffering Creek (uncredited)

---- A Star is Born

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