Arthur Hiller was a well-known and brilliant actor in the American cinema industry. Over the course of his five-decade career, he has released more than 33 pictures. Hiller, who was born in Canada, immigrated to the United States in pursuit of better job possibilities. NBC was his first foray into television, and he directed several episodes there during the 1950s. Hiller did not achieve popularity until 1964, after making his cinematic debut in 1957. Hiller’s great career began with the publication of ‘The Americanization of Emily.’ With ‘Love Story,’ he had a stroke of brilliance in 1970. It was Hiller’s most acclaimed effort, receiving seven Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Direction. Hiller’s presence was felt in the genres of drama, romance, and action as well, despite his reputation as a prominent Hollywood filmmaker with a penchant for nuanced humour. Hiller’s career took a turn for the worse in the 1980s, when most of his films failed to capture the magic of the stage. Hiller withdrew from directing after a string of lackluster films. Hiller’s last picture as a filmmaker was ‘National Lampoon’s Pucked,’ which he directed in 2006. Hiller has also held the positions of President of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Childhood and Adolescence
Arthur Hiller was born in Edmonton, Alberta, on November 22, 1923, to Jewish immigrants Rose and Harry Hiller. He was the eldest of two sisters. His father ran a store that sold used musical instruments.
Hiller has always been drawn to the theater since he was a child. Despite his lack of film experience, he would take on a role in a Jewish play that was performed once a year or twice a year for the Jewish community. He did this to stay connected to his Jewish roots.
Hiller finished his primary and secondary schooling. Following that, he took a break from his studies to join the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. He was in charge of guiding bombers over enemy territory.
Hiller resumed his studies after being released of his duties following World War II. He enrolled in the University of Toronto’s University College. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1947 and his Master of Arts degree in psychology three years later.
Career of Arthur Hiller
Hiller worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for five years after finishing his studies, from 1950 to 1955. His responsibilities included directing a number of public affairs programs.
Hiller had his debut in American television for NBC, which was a significant broadcaster in the United States at the time, during the same time he worked for Canadian radio. ‘Thriller,’ ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents,’ ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘Naked City,’ and ‘Playhouse 90’ are among the popular American television dramas he directed.
Hiller’s debut feature picture, ‘The Careless Years,’ was released in 1957. The film was about a young couple who decided to elope. Hiller’s career as a director took a rest following his directorial debut until 1962, when he made his second picture, ‘This Rugged Land.’ It was originally intended for television but was finally turned into a full picture.
Hiller directed the live-action films ‘Miracles of the White Stallions’ and ‘The Wheeler’s Deal’ for Walt Disney in 1963. The former was a drama starring James Garner and Jim Backus about the evacuation of Lipizzaner horses from Vienna during WWII, while the latter was a comedy starring James Garner and Jim Backus. Both films performed admirably and demonstrated Hiller’s ability as a director. He was a natural in front of the camera.
Hiller’s first commercial blockbuster, ‘The Americanization of Emily,’ gave him a start as a director in 1964. The film starred James Garner and Julie Andrews and was a satirical anti-war comedy. Hiller’s reputation as a wonderfully efficient director was cemented with this film, which received two Academy Award nominations. He was praised for his outstanding direction and flawless execution of Paddy Chayevsky’s script.
Following the box office success of ‘The Americanization of Emily,’ Hiller went on to direct comedies such as ‘Promise Her Anything,’ ‘Penelope,’ and ‘The Tigers Make Out.’
With the 1967 desert combat epic ‘Tobruk,’ he strayed from humour and tried his hand at action. The picture was nominated for an Academy Award. ‘Popi,’ a 1969 drama about a Puerto Rican widower attempting to raise his two young sons, was his final film of the decade.
Hiller’s career-defining film, ‘Love Story,’ starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, was released in 1970. Hiller’s amazing narrative technique weaved enchantment on the screen in this romantic tragedy. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including one for Best Director.
Hiller’s directing camp released two films in 1971: ‘Plaza Suite,’ a comedy starring Walter Matthua, and ‘The Hospital,’ a satire starring George C Scott. This was his second collaboration with screenwriter Paddy Chayevsky. ‘The Hospital’ was a dark comedy set in a hospital that dealt with disillusionment and turmoil. Chayevsky won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for it.
With his 1975 film ‘The Man in the Glass Booth,’ Hiller shifted to high-intensity drama. The film, which was based on Robert Shaw’s play, received a lot of positive feedback. Hiller was praised for his meticulous planning and precise direction. With ‘Silver Streak,’ he returned to comedy the next year. It was a huge commercial success. ‘The In-Laws,’ another hit comedy, brought him to the conclusion of the decade.
Hiller directed the film ‘Making Love’ in 1982. The film’s main theme was homosexuality. It told the story of a married doctor who finds his homosexuality and later comes to terms with it. The movie did good at the box office.
Following the success of ‘Making Love,’ he produced a string of forgettable comedies, including ‘Arthur! Arthur!,’ ‘Romantic Comedy,’ ‘The Lonely Guy,’ and ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil.’ The 1987 film ‘Outrageous Fortune,’ which was warmly praised and became a blockbuster hit, provided the sole respite from these.
With ‘Taking Care of Business,’ Hiller kicked off the 1990s decade. Two years later, in 1992, he produced ‘The Babe,’ a biopic about Babe Ruth. For its factual flaws, the film got mixed reviews.
Hiller’s most recent films did nothing to help him resurrect his generally sagging career, which was exacerbated by a string of flops. He took a break from filmmaking in 1997 and returned nine years later for what would become his final feature, ‘National Lampoon’s Pucked,’ which was released in 2006. At the box office, the picture was unable to work its magic.
Major Projects of Arthur
Hiller rose to popularity after the publishing of ‘The Americanization of Emily’ in 1963. It was Hiller’s first commercial success, and it received two Academy Award nominations.
Hiller’s best work was produced in the 1970s. In 1970, he released ‘Love Story,’ which became his best-known film. It won seven Academy Awards, including Best Director.
Achievements & Awards
Hiller was President of the Directors Guild of America from 1989 until 1993.
From 1993 to 1997, he served as President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Hiller was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1995.
Hiller was honored at the Academy Awards ceremony in 2002 with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his humanitarian, charitable, and philanthropic efforts.
Hiller received a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame in Toronto in 2002.
Hiller was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006.
Personal History and Legacy
Hiller married Gwen Pechet in 1948. The couple have two children together. On June 24, 2016, Gwen passed away.
On August 17, 2016, at the age of 92, Arthur Hiller died in Los Angeles, over two months after his wife.
Estimated Net Worth
Arthur Hiller’s net worth is estimated to be between $15 and $20 million.