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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 September 2005, 08:51 GMT 09:51 UK
Sound of Music director Wise dies
Robert Wise (middle) with Jack Lemmon and Julie Andrews
Hollywood veteran Wise (m) was widely respected in the industry
Robert Wise, Oscar-winning director of The Sound of Music and West Side Story, has died in Los Angeles.

The film-maker died on Wednesday of heart failure at the UCLA Medical Center, just five days after celebrating his 91st birthday.

Wise was nominated for seven Oscars and won four, in a career that spanned more than 50 years.

He directed 39 films in all, including the first Star Trek movie and sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.

More recently he served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Directors Guild of America.

Wise started in the film business at the age of 19, after one of his brothers got him a job at the RKO studios.

He began in the sound department before moving into editing.

Robert Wise and Rita Moreno
Wise celebrated his Oscar for West Side Story with actress Rita Moreno

He was drafted in to edit Citizen Kane in 1941, impressing director Orson Welles with his work, and gaining his first Oscar nomination.

Wise's first director job came when he was asked to take over The Curse of the Cat People.

This led to him working on a number of B-movie horror films before landing bigger budget projects.

His first Academy Award nomination for directing came for crime drama I Want to Live in 1958.

However, he did not win an Academy Award until 1962, when he shared the Oscar for best director with Jerome Robbins for West Side Story, a gritty musical based on the family warfare of Romeo and Juliet.

The film also went on to win 10 Oscars, including best film.

In 1965, Wise made a successful return to the musical genre with The Sound of Music, which once again won best director and best film at the Oscars.

He credited much of the movie's success to its lead actors, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

Wise received a further Oscar nomination for The Sand Pebbles in 1967.

In later years he took on fewer projects, including directing Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979.

He made his final big screen movie 11 years later with Rooftops.

His longtime agent and family friend Lawrence Mirisch, said Wise had appeared in good health as he celebrated his birthday on Saturday.

A retrospective of Wise's work had already been planned at the San Sebastian film festival, which is being held this week.

His wife, Millicent, who was at the festival for the opening, left early on Thursday for Los Angeles after hearing of his death, said festival spokeswoman Gemma Beltran.

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