|Born||February 2, 1905|
Woburn, Massachusetts, United States
|Died||January 10, 1990 (aged 84)|
|Employer||20th Century Fox (1944-1960)|
Lyle Reynolds Wheeler (February 2, 1905 - January 10, 1990) was an American motion picture art director. He received five Academy Awards -- for Gone with the Wind (1939), Anna and the King of Siam (1946), The Robe (1953), The King and I (1956) and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959).
Lyle Wheeler studied at the University of Southern California, then worked as a magazine artist and industrial designer. In 1936 he was hired by David O. Selznick to work as a set designer for Selznick's motion picture production company. Wheeler proved to be a creative genius when it came to designing quality sets at reasonable costs and was very much in demand in the industry. By the end of World War II, Wheeler had joined Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, where he remained as chief art director until the end of the 1950s.
In a career spanning 40 years, Wheeler created sets for more than 350 motion pictures, many of which are considered film classics. His credits include A Star is Born, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, State Fair, The Dolly Sisters, Forever Amber, The Fan, The Pride of St. Louis, The Seven Year Itch, and Carousel and in particular, Gone With the Wind, for which he drew some of the earliest examples of storyboards for film, illustrating not only the art design, but the framing, composition and even the color for nearly every shot in the film, greatly influencing the production. He also created matte paintings for all the ceilings for the sets as well as large set pieces like the facade of Tara. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Production Design 29 times, winning five. In 1951, he was nominated for four different films, three in 1952 and twice for two films in one year.
Late in life, Wheeler suffered financial reverses and was forced to sell his home. He lost his five Academy Award statuettes when he was unable to pay a bill in excess of $30,000 at a storage facility. His 1959 Oscar for The Diary of Anne Frank was purchased and returned to Wheeler in 1989 by a fan.
Lyle Wheeler died January 10, 1990, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital, of pneumonia. He was cremated, and his ashes stored in the vault at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.