Lyle R. Wheeler


Date of Birth 12 February 1905, Woburn, Massachusetts, USA Date of Death 10 January 1990, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA Mini Biography He was known as the 'dean of Hollywood art directors'. Lyle Wheeler worked on more than 350 films, winning five Academy Awards ('Gone with the Wind', 'Anna and the King of Siam',The Robe (1953),The King and I (1956) and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)) and was nominated for twenty-four others. The former magazine illustrator and industrial designer (also a graduate in architecture from the University of Southern California) started at MGM in 1931 as a layout artist and soon worked his way up to becoming assistant art director under Cedric Gibbons. From the mid-1930's, he began to work for David O. Selznick as a set designer and quickly proved his creative flair. His first picture as associate art director was The Garden of Allah (1936)(replacing Sturges Carne). Wheeler applied the new Technicolor dye transfer process to its fullest advantage, giving the finished product sharper definition and enhanced richness of colour. In 1939, he worked with production designer William Cameron Menzies on Gone with the Wind (1939). He created the sets for Tara and was responsible for the burning of Atlanta (suggesting to set ablaze the old King Kong (1933) and The King of Kings (1927) sets on the backlot). A long time later, he reminisced, saying "I had to argue with Selznick about everything. ..I always won, too, at least in my own mind" (People,March 27 1989). Wheeler became supervising art director at 20th Century Fox in 1944 and head of the studio's art department three years later. During his tenure, he worked on some of the most sumptuous-looking films of the period, including Leave Her to Heaven (1945), Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) and The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) - and, of course, 'The King and I' with its visually stunning interiors. His outstanding black-and-white films are all characterised by sharp, clean lines, notable examples being Rebecca (1940), Laura (1944) and All About Eve (1950). He also created some amazing sets, such as the avant-garde nightclub in Selznick's The Young in Heart (1938). One of Wheeler's few regrets was the fact, that one of his masterpieces, Anna and the King of Siam (1946) had to be shot in black & white because of a painter's strike. Financial problems forced Wheeler to sell his house in Pacific Palisades in 1982 and putting his five Academy Awards into storage. Unable to cover the rent for that storage, the Oscars, hidden within eleven boxes marked 'Wheeler' were eventually auctioned off, selling for $175. Through the efforts of a sympathetic individual, Lyle was eventually reunited with one of them. IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis Spouse Donna G. Wheeler (1954 - 1987) (her death) 3 children Kay Nelson (27 March 1949 - ?) Trivia Educated at USC. Mr. Wheeler's 5 Oscars were purchased by an individual at a storage facility default sale following his death. The purchaser did not know they were there until the sealed carton they were in was opened. He received twenty-nine Oscar nominations in all, sometimes for more than one film in the same year.

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