William A. Wellman

Director, Actor, Producer
Having directed nearly 80 motion pictures throughout his career, William Wellman was an extraordinarily prolific director whose output contained a number of cinematic gems amidst a rather unexceptional canon. Wellman ... Read more »
Born: 02/29/1896 in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA

Filmography

Director (18)

Hell Bent For Glory 1958 (Movie)

(Director)

Darby's Rangers 1957 (Movie)

(Director)

Good-Bye, My Lady 1956 (Movie)

(Director)

Blood Alley 1955 (Movie)

(Director)

The High and the Mighty 1954 (Movie)

(Director)

Track of the Cat 1954 (Movie)

(Director)

Island in the Sky 1953 (Movie)

(Director)

It's a Big Country 1952 (Movie)

(Director)

The Next Voice You Hear 1949 (Movie)

(Director)

Buffalo Bill 1943 (Movie)

(Director)

The Ox-Bow Incident 1942 (Movie)

(Director)

Beau Geste 1938 (Movie)

(Director)

A Star Is Born 1936 (Movie)

(Director)

Nothing Sacred 1936 (Movie)

(Director)

The Call of the Wild 1934 (Movie)

(Director)

Night Nurse 1931 (Movie)

(Director)

The Public Enemy 1930 (Movie)

(Director)

Wings 1927 (Movie)

(Director)
Producer (3)

It's Alive 2 1977 (Movie)

(Associate Producer)

Hell Bent For Glory 1958 (Movie)

(Producer)

Beau Geste 1938 (Movie)

(Producer)
Writer (3)

A Star Is Born 1976 (Movie)

(From Story)

Hell Bent For Glory 1958 (Movie)

(From Story)

A Star Is Born 1936 (Movie)

(From Story)

Biography

Having directed nearly 80 motion pictures throughout his career, William Wellman was an extraordinarily prolific director whose output contained a number of cinematic gems amidst a rather unexceptional canon. Wellman started his career during the silent era and had the prestige of directing the World War I actioner, "Wings" (1927), which was the first motion picture to ever win an Oscar for Best Picture. He spent the next 10 years directing a string of forgettable movies until reaching new heights with the scathing screwball comedy "Nothing Sacred" (1937) and the original version of "A Star Is Born" (1937), which earned him the only Academy Award of his career. Wellman went on to direct the dark and gritty Western "The Ox-Bow Incident" (1943), the tone of which ran counter to America's thirst for escape from the war, therefore sealing its fate as a commercial failure, though it lived on as one of Wellman's masterpieces. From there, he helmed a number of great Westerns and war-themed movies like "The Story of G.I. Joe" (1945), "Yellow Sky" (1948) and "Battleground" (1949). Late in his career, Wellman teamed with John Wayne on the terror-in-the-skies thriller "The High and the Mighty" (1954), but rode off into the sunset on the back of several mediocre films until his retirement in 1958. Though his career was uneven, Wellman directed enough film classics to be considered one of the premier directors of Hollywood's Golden Age.

Relationships

Celia Guinness Wellman

Mother

Helene Chadwick Actor

Wife
Separated after a month

Margery Chapin

Wife

Marjorie Crawford

Wife

Dorothy Wellman Actor

Wife
She starred in Wellman's 1933 film "Wild Boys of The Road" Married March 1934 until his death December 1975

Arthur Wellman

Father

Kathleen Wellman

Daughter
mother, Dorothy Coonan married actor James Francicus

William Wellman

Son
mother, Dorothy Coonan

EDUCATION

was sports star in high school; impressed and made acquaintance of Douglas Fairbanks, who saw him playing ice hockey

Milestones

1938

First film as producer (also director), "Men with ings"

1936

First film as co-screenwriter (also director), "The Robin Hood of El Dorado"

1927

Directed first major success (winner of the first Academy Award for best picture), "Wings"

1925

Resumed full-fledged directing chores at MGM with "The Boob" (released after his Columbia effort, "When Husbands Flirt")

1925

Joined MGM as assistant director

1923

Solo directing debut, "The Man Who Won"

1923

Took over direction of "The Eleventh Hour" from mentor Bernard J Durning

1921

Moved to Fox as assistant director

1919

On invitation from Douglas Fairbanks, made film acting debut in "Knickerbocker Buckaroo"

1918

Returned to Boston as war hero; authored (with a ghost writer) his story, "Go, Get 'Em"

1918

While a flight instructor at Rockwell Field, San Diego, became friendly with Hollywood figures

1917

Joined Foreign Legion, then Lafayette Flying Corps; plane shot down during WWI; sustained lasting back injuries; awarded Croix de Guerre and other honors

Unhappy with acting, decided to become a director; worked at Goldwyn as messenger boy (including delivering fan mail to his estranged wife), propman, and then assistant director

Joined a pro minor-league hockey team

After succession of successful low-rent films, asked for raise and was fired

Bonus Trivia

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Always the aviator, Wellman's body was cremated and strewn over the US by plane.

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He was awarded Croix de Guerre in 1918.

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Received five US citations.

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