GEORGE ROY HILL BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
George Roy Hill was an American film director (not to be confused with MGM’s George W. Hill, a director and cinematographer of silent movies and early sound films). He was born December 20, 1922 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hill developed a love of aviation from a young age, becoming a pilot at the age of sixteen. He also had a love of music, which he pursued in his studies at Yale University. He graduated in 1943, leaving immediately to serve in the military during World War II as a cargo pilot. After the war, Hill moved to Texas and found employment as a newspaper reporter. He soon relocated again, to Dublin, Ireland, where he studied music and literature at Trinity College. Here he began his career as an onstage actor.
Hill returned to the United States in 1949, continuing to act. With the outbreak of the Korean War, he served as a night fighter pilot. Upon his return eighteen months later, Hill found a career in the television industry. He directed various TV series of the 1950's, including “Kraft Theatre” (1956), “The Kaiser Aluminum Hour” (1956-57), and “Playhouse 90” (1957-59). Hill made a return to the theater in 1957, directing a number of plays. One of these plays was Tennessee Williams’ “Period of Adjustment”.
In 1962, he was called upon in Hollywood to direct a film version of Williams’ play. “A Period of Adjustment” (1962) featured Jane Fonda in her first major movie role. Hills stuck with film directing, quickly releasing “Toys in the Attic” (1963), another Broadway show adaptation. Viewers were delighted with his next picture, “The World of Henry Orient” (1964) starring Peter Sellers and Paula Prentiss, but greatly disappointed with 1966’s blockbuster “Hawaii”.
Fortunately, Hill’s reputation was rebuilt with the Julie Andrews musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (1967), a spoof about the roaring twenties. The director finished off the decade with the tremendous box office success “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969). The picture not only proved to be a major career booster for Hill, but served as an important milestone in the western film genre. It portrayed its lead characters, played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, as free spirits and not the stereotypical outlaws, helping revive the dying westerner. It also helmed four Academy Awards and three nods.
After the failed “Slaughterhouse-Five” (1972), a story about a man who becomes 'unstuck in time', Paul Newman and Robert Redford were reconnected in “The Sting” (1973). This time the duo was involved in a plot to con a mob boss. The feature earned seven Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture. The stars showed their trust in Hill by having him direct some of their subsequent features. Robert Redford starred in Hill’s next picture, the adventurous drama “The Great Waldo Pepper” (1975). Newman was in one of his films after, “Slap Shot” (1977), about a failing hockey team that finds success.
Most critics loved Hill’s next feature, “A Little Romance” (1979) starring Diane Lane and Laurence Olivier. It combined the tale of two adolescents in love with stunning European backdrops and fine acting. The twice Oscar nominated “The World According to Garp” (1982) starring Robin Williams, Mary Beth Hurt, John Lithgow, Glenn Close, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy and trailed, followed by the unsuccessful thriller “The Little Drummer Girl” (1984) starring Diane Keaton and Klaus Kinski. After the decent Chevy Chase comedy “Funny Farm” (1988), Hill retired from filmmaking to teach drama at Yale.
The director died of complications from Parkinson’s disease on December 27, 2002 in his New York City home.
1988 Funny Farm
1984 The Little Drummer Girl
1982 The World According to Garp
1979 A Little Romance
1977 Slap Shot
1975 The Great Waldo Pepper
1973 The Sting
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
1967 Thoroughly Modern Millie
1964 The World of Henry Orient
1963 Toys in the Attic
1962 Period of Adjustment
1957 Playhouse 90
1956 The Kaiser Aluminum Hour
1956 Kraft Theatre
1955 Lux Video Theatre
1954 Ponds Theater