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Cornelius Louis Wilde (October 13, 1915 – October 16, 1989) was an Americanmarker actor and film director.

Early life

Wilde was born in 1915 in Manhattanmarker. His parents were the Hungarian Jews Béla Weisz and Renée Vojtech . A talented linguist, and an astute mimic, he had an ear for languages which became apparent later in his acting career. He qualified for the United Statesmarker fencing team prior to the 1936 Summer Olympic Games, but quit the team just prior to the games saying that it was in order to take a role in the theater.

Hired as a fencing teacher by Laurence Olivier for his 1940 Broadwaymarker production of Romeo and Juliet, Wilde was given the role of Tybalt in the production. Because of this role, he was noticed by Hollywoodmarker.

Life and work

Wilde entered Columbia College of Columbia University as a member of the Class of 1933 but dropped out after his freshman year. He had several small film roles until he played the role of Frédéric Chopin in 1945's A Song to Remember, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. In 1945 he also starred in A Thousand and One Nights with Evelyn Keyes.He spent the rest of the decade appearing in romantic and swashbuckling films, but he also appeared in some significant films noirs, opposite Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven (1945), Road House (1948) and Shockproof (1949), the latter film also starring his then wife Patricia Knight.

In the 1950s, Wilde created his own film production company and produced the film noir The Big Combo (1955). Wilde played the male lead alongside his second wife Jean Wallace. That same year, he appeared in an episode of I Love Lucy as himself. In 1957, he played the role of the 13th century Persian poet Omar Khayyam in the film Omar Khayyam.

He produced, directed, and starred in The Naked Prey (1966), in which he played a naked man being tracked by hunters from an African tribe affronted by the behaviour of members of a safari party. The original script for The Naked Prey was largely based on a true historical incident about a trapper named John Colter being pursued by Blackfeet Indians in Wyomingmarker. Lower shooting costs, tax breaks, and material and logistical assistance offered by Rhodesia convinced Wilde and the other producers to shoot the film there.

Wilde's other notable directing efforts include Beach Red (1967) and No Blade of Grass (1970).

Personal life

He married the actress Patricia Knight in 1937. She appeared with him in Shockproof (1949). They had a daughter, Wendy (born February 22 1943), and divorced in 1951.

He married the actress Jean Wallace in 1951. Wallace, formerly married to actor Franchot Tone, co-starred with Wilde in several films including The Big Combo (1955) and Sword of Lancelot (1963). Her two children from her marriage to Franchot Tone became Wilde's stepsons. They also had a son together, Cornel Wilde Jr. (born December 19 1967). They divorced in 1981.


Wilde died of leukemia three days after his 74th birthday. He was survived by a daughter and a son (one from each marriage); two stepsons, Pascal Franchot Tone and Thomas Jefferson Tone; and three grandchildren

Wilde is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemeterymarker in Westwood, Californiamarker.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Cornel Wilde has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker at 1635 Vine Street.


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