Arthur Hiller

Arthur Garfin Hiller, director, producer, actor (born 22 November 1923 in Edmonton, AB; died 17 August 2016 in Los Angeles, California).

Hiller, Arthur
Producer/director Arthur Hiller on the set of his film The Lonely Guy, 1983 (courtesy Toronto International Film Festival Group).

Arthur Garfin Hiller, director, producer, actor (born 22 November 1923 in Edmonton, AB; died 17 August 2016 in Los Angeles, California). Arthur Hiller's parents were Harry and Rose Hiller, immigrants from Poland who came to New York at the turn of the 20th century and moved north to Edmonton in 1912. The Hillers started an amateur Yiddish theatre in Edmonton, and Arthur was helping to build and paint sets by age 7. At 11 he was acting in small roles.

Arthur Hiller attended Victoria Composite High School (now known as Victoria School of Performing and Visual Arts) in Edmonton. Following graduation, he spent 3 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a flying officer stationed in England and flying bombing raids over Germany during WWII. After the war he attended the University of Toronto, where he earned a Master's degree in psychology. The social and communicative aspects of psychology drew him to pursue a career as a director.

In 1950 Hiller began producing and directing talk shows and radio drama documentaries for the CBC's Talks and Public Affairs department. He was soon producing as many as 17 shows a week, including straight dramas. By 1954 he had moved into television and was directing "live" dramas. In 1955, producer Albert McCleery recruited Hiller to Los Angeles to direct Matinee Theatre, a new live NBC drama series.

Hiller stayed with Matinee Theatre for a year, then moved on to direct several of the prestigious Playhouse 90 dramas live for CBS, including Massacre at Sand Creek, which earned him an Emmy Award nomination. He quickly became a director of choice for some of the industry's best-known series, including Naked City (one episode earned him a second Emmy nomination), Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Gunsmoke. He also directed the pilot for The Addams Family and Thriller, which starred Boris Karloff and was produced by Canada's Fletcher Markle.

Hiller went on to direct more than 30 features, from intense dramas to light comedies to musicals, which have earned a combined 15 Academy Award nominations and 2 wins. His best-known film is perhaps Love Story, a huge box-office hit in 1970. It is a sentimental tale of star-crossed lovers, an upper-crust college boy (Ryan O'Neal) and a smart and beautiful girl (Ali MacGraw) from the wrong side of the tracks. Hiller won the Golden Globe Award for best director for Love Story, and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Some of Arthur Hiller's other popular films include The Americanization of Emily (1964) with James Garner and Julie Andrews and written by Paddy Chayefsky; Neil Simon's The Out-of-Towners (1970) with Jack Lemmon; The Hospital (1971), starring George C. Scott, which won an Oscar for Paddy Chayefsky for best screenplay; Neil Simon's Plaza Suite (1971) with Walter Matthau; Man of La Mancha (1972) with Peter O'Toole and Sophia Loren; Robert Shaw's The Man in the Glass Booth (1975), for which Maximilian Schell received an Oscar nomination for best actor; The Silver Streak (1976), the first pairing of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder and shot in Alberta and Ontario; The In-Laws (1979) with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk, which Hiller co-produced; Author! Author! (1982) with Al Pacino; The Lonely Guy (1984) with Steve Martin, which Hiller also produced; the Disney comedy Outrageous Fortune (1987) with Bette Midler and Shelley Long; and The Babe (1992), starring John Goodman as the legendary Babe Ruth.

Arthur Hiller served as president of the Directors Guild of America from 1989-93 and of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1993-97, and was a 15-year member of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. In 2002 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented him with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, given periodically to members of the film community whose humanitarian efforts are a credit to the industry. He has worked with such charitable organizations as the Artists Rights Foundation, Amnesty International, Inner-City Filmmakers, the Deaf Arts Council and the Anti-Defamation League, among many others. He has participated in workshops and seminars with students and young filmmakers around the world.

In 1995 Hiller received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria and a Doctor of Laws from the University of Toronto. The University of Alberta bestowed an honorary Doctor of Letters upon Arthur Hiller in 2002, and he received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame. In 2004 the Directors Guild of Canada presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2007 Hiller was invested as an officer of the Order of Canada. The Arthur Hiller Student Film Festival was launched by the Victoria School of Performing and Visual Arts in 2007. In Hiller's honour, a portion of 104 Street in Edmonton is named Arthur Hiller Way.