Billy Wilder (1906 - 2002)
The genius with "a mind full of razor blades" (according to William Holden) who created a string Hollywood classics, Billy Wilder was born in Austria in 1906.
Escaping the Third Reich, he moved to America as a young film maker. Collaborating with other writers to compensate for his fractured English, he wrote, or wrote and directed, dozens of films, many of which retain today their mischievous spark and sharp wit.
He shot one of the most incisive films about Hollywood itself, Sunset Boulevard (1950), with Holden and Gloria Swanson.
He was the director of Marilyn Monroe's finest hours on screen, in The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959), the latter being one of several smart comedies he made starring Jack Lemmon.
For The Apartment (1960), teaming Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, Wilder won no fewer than three Academy Awards® for his writing (with the late, great IAL Diamond), direction and production of that year's best picture.
The secret of successful directing? "The best director is the one you don't see", Billy Wilder observed.
He died aged 95 on 27 March 2002.