Classic Entertainment Autographs

Cat. #0057621: WILLIAM A. WELLMAN

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Scarce vintage inscribed signature in blue fountain pen on a 4x6-inch pale pink autograph album page, acquired in-person by inveterate collector Irene Gellar in the 1940s or 1950s.  During his untamed youth and World War I service as an aviator, the screenwriter and director was dubbed "Wild Bill", a nickname which persisted in Hollywood, due to his larger-than-life personality and contumacious lifestyle.  In addition to being a hotheaded, hard-drinking, actor-hating bully, Wellman was an intractable perfectionist.  His 1927 war epic Wings took over a year to complete and nearly cost him his job on more than one occasion, but when audiences raved about the film and it nabbed the first Academy Award for Best Picture, studio heads made a concerted effort to tolerate him.  He came to be associated with "man's man" films, including Legion of the Condemned (1928), Louise Brooks' Beggars of Life (1928), the James Cagney gangster classic The Public Enemy (1931), Night Nurse (1931), Wild Boys of the Road (1933), The Call of the Wild (1935), and Tarzan Escapes (1936).  However, he was equally adept at comedy, helming the original A Star Is Born (1937), for which won his only Oscar, for Best Original Story, and the biting satire Nothing Sacred (1937).  Both movies were dissections of the fame game, as was his satire Roxie Hart (1942).  During the World War Two Era, Wellman continued to make outstanding films, including the thriller Lady of Burlesque (1943); The Ox-Bow Incident (1943); and Battleground (1949), which earned him a second Oscar nod.  He went on to several celebrated collaborations with John Wayne, including the war film The High and the Mighty (1954), which landed the director his third and final Oscar nomination.  His final movie, Lafayette Escadrille (1958), similarly hearkened back to his World War One service.  He retired as a director upon its completion, reportedly enraged at Warner Bros.'s post-production tampering with what he viewed as a highly personal masterpiece.