Robert Wise, Film Producer-Director of "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music," Dead at 91

Obituaries   Robert Wise, Film Producer-Director of "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music," Dead at 91 Producer-director Robert Wise, who brought the musicals West Side Story and The Sound of Music to life for film audiences, died Sept. 14 at the age of 91 of heart failure.

Earning two Academy Awards on each musical, for Best Picture and Best Direction, Wise shared the latter award for "West Side Story" with co-director Jerome Robbins — the first such occurrence.

Wise fell into the business when his older brother — then an accountant at RKO — got him a job at the studio. He then worked his way up from sound editor on "The Gay Divorcee" and "Top Hat" to film editing on such movies as "The Bachelor Mother," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "My Favorite Wife" and "Dance, Girl, Dance" before landing the Orson Welles epic "Citizen Kane." He was the sole surviving crew member of that movie until his passing.

Eventually becoming a director, his credits include "The Body Snatcher," "The Set-Up," "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "The Desert Rats," "So Big," "Executive Suite," "Helen of Troy," "Tribute to a Bad Man," "Run Silent Run Deep" and "I Want to Live!" — the latter earned him his first Oscar nomination. After his success with "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music," Wise went on to direct "Star!," "The Andromeda Strain," "The Hindenburg," "Audrey Rose" and the first "Star Trek" movie. His final directing job was on the 1989 film "Rooftops."

Among other accolades bestowed upon Wise include the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for sustained achievement, the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award and the Directors Guild of America's Lifetime Achievement Award. He served as president of the DGA from 1971-1975 and held the same position at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 1985-1988

He is survived by his wife, Millicent, his son Robert E. Wise (from his earlier marriage to Patricia Doyle, who died in 1975), his stepdaughter, Pamela Rosenberg, and a granddaughter.

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