Fred and Billy – from Vienna to Hollywood

Alfred Zinnemann known  as Fred Zinnemann was born 1907 in the 3rd district  and Samuel Wilder known as Billy Wilder was born in Sucha in Austria Hungary.  Both came in their childhood to Vienna. They both went in Vienna in the same class in the privatgymnasium Juranek in the 8. district and created a friedship tbat lasts their hole life.

Billy started to work after his degree at the boulevardpage „die Stunde“  one day he interviewed the Jazzmusican Paul Whiteman he was so impressed from Wilder, that he inveted him to Berlin where he  finaly stood.

Fred began after his degree at the „Kaiser Franz Josef Gymnasium in the 1st district against the advice of his relatives after his degree  in 1927 an education as cinematographer at the  École nationale supérieure Louis-Lumière in Paris.

Billy wored in Berlin as Journalist and started to write scripts. One day a strange situation changed his life. The CEO of a Moviecompany fled over the balkony next to his tiny flat into his flat. Wilder used the situation to sell him his script. So he started his career  in the movie industry.

Zinnemann moved in 1928 to Berlin to work theire. Fred met their his old friend Billy and worked as Cinematograph in the Movie „Menschen am Sonntag“ for which Wilder wrote the script. In 1929 Fred moved to Hollywood where he worked as assistent for the 1885 in Vienna born filmmaker and scriptwriter Berthold Viertel .

1931 Wilder wrote togehter with Gerhard Lamprecht the script for „Emil und die Detektive“ (Roman from Erich Kästner).  In 1933 after the takeover of the Nazis Wilder escaped to Paris, because we was a Jew. In Paris Wilder worked as Gosthwriter for french scriptwriter. 1934 we came together with the 1880 in Vienna born Joe May (born as Joseph Mandel) into the USA.  1936 he started to work for Paramount.

1936 Fred Zinnemann became american citzen and began 1937 for the shortfilm department from Metro Goldwin and Mayer. In 1938 he won for the shortmovie „That mothers may life“ (a movie about Ignaz Semmelweis) his first Oscar which opend him the way to become motion picture director.

In 1942 Wilder started his career as moviedirector with the movie „The major and the minor“ with Ginger Rogers.  1946 Wilder won two Oscars for „The lost Weekend“ (as director and scriptwriter)

Fred Zinnemann won 5 Oscars and made movies like: high noon (1950 Director) From here to eternity (1953 Director) The Nun`s story (1959 Director) The day of the Jackal (1973 Director)


Billy Wilder won 8 Oscars and was responsible for movie classics like: Sunset Boulevard (1950, Director, Script) Sabrina (1954, Director, Script, Production) The Appartment (1960, Director, Script, Production) The Fortune Cockie (1966, Director, Script, Production) The Frontpage (1974 Director, Script)


Billy and Fred went out of Vienna conquered the movie world and became two of the most famous and influencing moviemakers in the history.

In Memory of Billy Wilder Vienna  named a street in the 3rd district after him (Billy Wilder Straße). Also Fred Zinnemann got that honor, in the 3rd district is a square named  after him (Fred Zinnemann Platz)