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Robert Aldrich 1918-1983

Country : Cranston, RI
Profession : Film Director
Date of birth : 1918-08-09
Date of death : 1983-12-05
Cause of Death : Kidney failure

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Robert Aldrich (August 9, 1918 – December 5, 1983) was an American film director, writer and producer, notable for such films as Kiss Me Deadly, The Big Knife, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Flight of the Phoenix, Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte and The Dirty Dozen.


Robert Burgess Aldrich was born in Cranston, Rhode Island, the son of Lora Lawson and newspaper publisher Edward B. Aldrich. He was a grandson of U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and a cousin to Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller. He was educated at the Moses Brown School, Providence, Rhode Island, and studied economics at the University of Virginia. In 1941, he left university for a minor job at the RKO Radio Pictures, thus beginning his career as a cinéaste.

He quickly rose in film production as an assistant director, he worked with Jean Renoir, Abraham Polonsky, Joseph Losey and Charlie Chaplin, working with the latter as an assistant on Limelight. He became a television director in the 1950s, directing his first feature film, The Big Leaguer, in 1953. In that time, Aldrich was the rare American example of the auteur film maker, depicting his liberal humanist thematic vision in many genres, in films such as Kiss Me Deadly (1955), today a film noir classic, The Big Knife (1955), a cinematic adaptation of Clifford Odets's play about Hollywood as a business, Attack (1956), a World War II infantry combat film exploring the U.S. Army's corporate careerism, and how social class and caste determine who attacks and who orders the attack.

In the 1960s he directed several commercially successful films, such as the gothic horror story What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), featuring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as spiteful sisters and faded child-actresses; the sexually controversial The Killing of Sister George (1968); and the war movie formula template, The Dirty Dozen (1967). The success of The Dirty Dozen allowed him to establish his own film production studio for some time, but several failures forced his professional return to conventionally commercial Hollywood films. Nevertheless, his liberal humanism is thematically evident in The Longest Yard (1974), about the corporate, cut-throat values of rigged-game Nixonian America, and Ulzana's Raid (1972) about the post–Civil War extermination of the Indians in the course of settling the West for white people. Thematically, Ulzana's Raid details the psychological and cultural tolls paid by the soldiers who must kill everyone impeding the establishment of empire.

From his marriage to Harriet Foster (1941-1965), Robert Aldrich had four children, all of whom work in the movie business: Adell, William, Alida and Kelly. In 1966, after divorcing his first wife, Harriet, he married fashion model Sybille Siegfried.



  • Caught (1949) (uncredited director of reshoots)
  • Big Leaguer (1953) (director)
  • World for Ransom (1954) (uncredited director, producer)
  • Apache (1954) (director)
  • Vera Cruz (1954) (director)
  • Kiss Me Deadly (1955) (director, producer)
  • The Big Knife (1955) (director, producer)
  • Autumn Leaves (1956) (director)
  • Attack (1956) (director, producer)
  • The Gamma People (1956) (story)
  • The Garment Jungle (1957) (uncredited director)
  • Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) (director, writer)
  • The Angry Hills (1959) (director)
  • The Last Sunset (1961) (director)
  • Sodom and Gomorrah (1962) (director)
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) (director, producer)
  • 4 for Texas (1963) (director, writer, producer)
  • Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) (director, producer)
  • The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) (director, producer)
  • The Dirty Dozen (1967) (director)
  • The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968) (director, producer)
  • The Killing of Sister George (1968) (director, producer)
  • The Greatest Mother of Them All (short film) (1969) (director, producer)
  • What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969) (producer)
  • Too Late the Hero (1970) (director, writer, producer)
  • The Grissom Gang (1971) (director, producer)
  • Ulzana's Raid (1972) (director)
  • Emperor of the North (1973) (director)
  • The Longest Yard (1974) (director)
  • Hustle (1975) (director, producer)
  • Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) (director)
  • The Choirboys (1977) (director)
  • The Frisco Kid (1979) (director)
  • …All the Marbles (1981) (director)


  • Schlitz Playhouse of Stars (1951) (director, 1 episode)
  • China Smith (1952) (director, 2 episodes)
  • The Doctor (1952) (director, 1 episode)
  • Four Star Playhouse (1952) (director, 5 episodes)
  • Hotel de Paree (1959) (director, 1 episode)
  • Adventures in Paradise (1959) (director, 2 episodes)


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