My new book, WILD BILL WELLMAN: HOLLYWOOD REBEL, is now completed and will be published April 7, 2015 for Random House under their Pantheon Books label.
Using his own words derived from personal letters written during his action-packed tour of duty over the war-tom skies of France, remembrances from his loving mother, the notes from his shooting scripts, and the writings of his memoirs, we follow his amazing and adventurous life from childhood to legendary filmmaker. His journey races through the decades, from choir boy to juvenile delinquent; sport's hero to decorated fighter pilot; movie star and messenger boy to silent screen director of WINGS, the winner of the First Academy Award for Best Picture.
We learn about him as a studio prankster, fist-fighter, romantic and, eventually, a family man who directed classic Hollywood films like: BEGGARS OF LIFE, THE PUBLIC ENEMY, CALL OF THE WILD, A STAR IS BORN, NOTHING SACRED, BEAU GESTE, ROXIE HART, THE OX-BOW INCIDENT, THE STORY OF G.I. JOE, YELLOW SKY, BATTLEGROUND, ISLAND IN THE SKY, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, and a resume of a hundred pictures.
Like my first book, THE MAN AND HIS WINGS: WILLIAM A. WELLMAN AND THE MAKING OF THE FIRST BEST PICTURE, this book is filled with excitement, romance, comedy, camaraderie, tragedy and triumph. Where the first book centers on my father's early life, WILD BILL WELLMAN tells the complete saga of his life and times; his troubled days as a contract studio director, blackballed for accosting a studio mogul, pilfering as a delivery boy, jump-starting his career as a result of meeting a famous general in a house of ill repute, and fighting his way to the top of the filmmaker's ladder.
William "Wild Bill" Wellman's maverick style kept him away from Hollywood's social and acceptable circle of elite ... and the accompanying laurels handed out to the "in" crowd. Although his trophy case was not crowded with awards, his winnings were many. He had secured what he most wanted -- his devoted wife, Dottie, their seven children, twenty-two grandchildren and ten great grandchildren ... and the love of making movies, many different kinds of films.
He was nominated three times for Best Director, but his only Oscar came for writing the original A STAR IS BORN (1937). That picture and others have been remade and continue to attain the label of "true classic." His films received 32 Academy Award nominations and 7 Oscars. There is a continuing discovery of his unique brand of filmmaking. He deserves to be held in the pantheon of filmmakers.
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