Oscar-winning director dies of heart failure

Robert Wise, director of top Hollywood musicals West Side Story and The Sound of Music, died overnight at his Los Angeles home, days after his 91st birthday, an official of the San Sebastian film festival said on Thursday.

The death of Wise cast a pall over the festival, which was scheduled to pay a special homage to the director who also made Star Trek, the Motion Picture and collaborated closely with Orson Welles.

The official said Wise’s wife Mellicent, who had been in San Sebastian to present the retrospective of his work, had left for Los Angeles.

Born at Winchester in Indiana on September 10, 1914, Wise joined the movie industry in 1933 and by six years later had become one of Hollywood’s leading film editors.

He worked on Welles’s Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, as well as Daniel Dieterle’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Devil and Daniel Webster.

West Side Story, which he co-directed with Jerome Robbins and won 10 Oscars, and The Sound of Music were smash-hit musicals, along with the lesser-known Star.

Wise also had a penchant for war movies, with The Desert Rats, Run Silent, Run Deep and The Sand Pebbles, and science fiction, making The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Andromeda Strain before Star Trek.

His string of awards included Oscars as best director for West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965)—which were also both voted best film—while three stars, George Chakiris and Rita Moreno in West Side Story and Susan Hayward in I Want to Live, won Oscars for their performances in Wise films. - AFP

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