Arthur Hiller, Director of Numerous ’70s Classics, Dies at 92
According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Arthur Hiller has died. A former President of the Academy, Hiller’s best known as the director of The Americanization of Emily, The In-Laws, and particularly Love Story, the iconic ’70s romance starring Alice MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. Hiller passed away in Los Angeles today of natural causes. He was 92 years old. Current Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs made this statement:
We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved friend Arthur Hiller. I was a member of the Board during his presidency and fortunate enough to witness firsthand his dedication to the Academy and his lifelong passion for visual storytelling. Our condolences go out to his loved ones.
The Canadian-born Hiller first got his start in the entertainment industry as a director for Canadian television. He moved to the United States and began directing TV in Hollywood, working on shows like Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He directed his first feature, The Careless Years, in 1957, and steadily began increasing his film work.
Hiller made a habit of partnering with strong screenwriters. In 1964, he directed Paddy Chayefsky’s script for The Americanization of Emily, a merciless war satire starring Julie Andrews and James Garner. He later teamed with Chayefsky again on 1971’s The Hospital, a dark comedy about the inner-workings of a New York hospital starring George C. Scott.
In 1970, he directed Neil Simon’s The Out-of-Towners; the next year, he adapted Simon’s play Plaza Suite to the screen. In between, he made one of the decade’s signature films: Love Story, about the doomed romance between a young man (O’Neal) and a woman (MacGraw) stricken with a terminal illness. Hiller was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director, but lost to Franklin J. Schaffner for Patton. (In 2002, Hiller received the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.) The film, written by Erich Segal, included one of the most famous lines in the history of cinema:
Hiller worked steadily into the 1990s; his filmography ranged from comedies like Silver Streak and See No Evil, Hear No Evil with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder to biopics like The Babe with John Goodman playing legendary New York Yankee Babe Ruth. He was also one of the fraternity of filmmakers to replace his name on a project with the pseudonym Alan Smithee (ironically on the film An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood, Burn, about a director actually named Alan Smithee). His final completed film was 2006’s National Lampoon’s Pucked starring Jon Bon Jovi.
Over his 50 year career, Hiller made an indelible mark on popular culture. Movies like Love Story will be quoted long after we’ve all left this Earth. Hiller will be missed, but his work will not be forgotten.