Arthur Hiller, the Canadian-born Jewish director most famous for the hit movie “Love Story,” has died Aug. 17 after having been in failing health for some time. He was 92.
During a career that spanned more than half a century, Hiller directed numerous television episodes and more than 30 feature films.
“Love Story,” released in 1970 and based on an Erich Segal novel about a doomed romance, was his biggest hit. He was nominated for an Academy Award as best director and won a Golden Globe.
His other films included “The Americanization of Emily” (1964), “The Hospital” (1971), “Silver Streak” (1976) and “The In-Laws” (1979).
A native of Edmonton, Hiller was the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland. As a child, he recalled in the book “Matzo Balls for Breakfast and Other Stories of Growing Up Jewish,” he helped out building sets and acting “with the long beard and the payes” at a Yiddish theater run by his parents.
They were not “professionals in theater,” he wrote. “They wanted to do a play once or twice a year for the community of 450 to keep in touch with their heritage.”
Hiller tried to volunteer to fight for Israel after the outbreak of the 1948 War of Independence but was rejected because he had recently married his childhood sweetheart, Gwen Pechet. Their marriage lasted 68 years, until his wife died in June.
Hiller served as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1993 to 1997 and of the Directors Guild of America from 1989 to 1993.
The academy presented him with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy Awards in 2002.
In a statement, the Directors Guild called Hiller “a tireless crusader in the fight for creative rights and a passionate film preservation advocate.” — jta