Film director Arthur Hiller, whose sentimental “Love Story” starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal stands as one of the most popular romantic movies ever made and the biggest hit of 1970, died on Wednesday at the age of 92, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said.
Hiller, whose work also included successful collaborations with playwrights Neil Simon and Paddy Chayevsky, died of natural causes in Los Angeles, the Academy said in a statement.
The director was the president of the Academy, which hosts Hollywood’s annual Oscars ceremony, from 1993 to 1997, and served as a longtime member on the organization’s Directors Branch.
Current Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the organization was “deeply saddened” by Hiller’s death.
“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,” Boone Isaacs said.
Hiller directed more than 30 films from 1957 through 2006 covering a range of genres including comedies, dramas, tearjerkers, war stories, satires and musicals. He guided five different actors - O’Neal, MacGraw, George C. Scott, Maximilian Schell and John Marley - to Oscar-nominated performances.
His films were nominated for 15 Academy Awards, winning two. Hiller’s adventure comedy “Silver Streak” marked the first screen pairing of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor and become one of the top box office hits of 1976.
“Love Story,” Hiller’s biggest success, was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including best picture and Hiller as best director. It won only one Oscar, for best original score, as “Patton,” starring Scott, swept the top awards.
“Love Story” was a tale of ill-fated lovers - privileged Oliver (O’Neal) and working-class Jennifer (MacGraw). It featured one of the most famous movie lines of the 1970s: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”—Reuters