Los Angeles (AFP): Oscar-nominated director and former Academy president Arthur Hiller died of natural causes in Los Angeles on Wednesday. He was 92.
The Canadian-born filmmaker enjoyed a movie career spanning five decades that included the 1964 comedy “The Americanization of Emily,” ratings smash “Love Story” — for which he was nominated for an Oscar in 1970 — and 1975’s “The Man in the Glass Booth.”
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved friend Arthur Hiller,” Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement.
“I was a member of the board during his presidency and fortunate enough to witness firsthand his dedication to the Academy and his lifelong passion for visual storytelling.”
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Hiller served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II before embarking on a show-business career on Canadian television and then in Hollywood.
A jobbing director at first, he turned out episodes of “Matinee Theatre,” “Playhouse 90” and “The Third Man” in the 1950s.
His breakthrough into big-budget filmmaking came with Disney’s “Miracle of the White Stallions” (1963).
Hiller headed the Directors Guild of America (DGA) from 1989 to 1993 before serving as Academy president from 1993 to 1997.
The Academy honored him in 2001 with its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his work with several charities, educational institutions and civil rights groups.
DGA president Paris Barclay described Hiller as “a tireless crusader in the fight for creative rights and a passionate film preservation advocate” whose impact would be felt “for generations to come.”
“As guild president, Arthur was a warm and nurturing father figure who was deeply concerned with the personal and professional wellbeing of every one of our members,” he said in a statement.
DGA national executive director Jay D. Roth described Hiller’s presidency as “marked by a singular passion for and deep moral obligation” to protecting members’ creative freedom.
“His spirited leadership as founding chairman of the Artists Rights Foundation in the early 1990s was instrumental in safeguarding against the physical alteration of our members’ creative work, both in film and television,” he said.
“As Arthur once said with his famously matter-of-fact panache, ‘Just because you bought the Mona Lisa, doesn’t mean you have the right to paint a mustache on her.'”
Hiller is survived by his daughter, Erica Hiller Carpenter, son Henryk and five grandchildren. Gwen Hiller, his wife of 68 years, died in June.