Wiard Ihnen

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Wiard Ihnen
Born(1897-08-05)August 5, 1897 [1]
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedJune 22, 1979(1979-06-22) (aged 81)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
OccupationArt director
Years active19191960
(m. 1940;died 1979)

Wiard Boppo "Bill" Ihnen (August 5, 1897 [1] June 22, 1979) was an American art director. He was active from 1919 to 1960 and won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction for Wilson (1944) and Blood on the Sun (1945). He was married to Edith Head.


Early years

Ihnen was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. His age and year of birth are uncertain. While some sources indicate he was born in 1897, his obituary in the Los Angeles Times reported his age as 91, indicating that he was born in approximately 1888. [2]

His father, Henry S. Ihnen, was an architect and painter. Ihnen attended public schools in East Rutherford, New Jersey. [3] He worked for a time as the assistant to a prominent New York architect and studied architecture at Columbia University. He also studied at École des Beaux-Arts de Paris, spent a year at the art centers of Spain and France, and studied color and technique at the University of Mexico. [3] [4]

Art direction

Ihnen first worked in the motion picture business in approximately 1919 at Paramount Studios on Long Island. [3] [4] After several years with Paramount in New York, he become an art director at Paramount's Hollywood studios. [3]

One of his earliest works as an art director was the Josef von Sternberg's 1932 film, Blonde Venus . He drew attention for his design of "fantastically exotic" African nightclub in the film. [5]

Other early art directing credits include the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup (1933) and a pair of Mae West comedies: Go West, Young Man (1936) and Every Day's a Holiday . Ihnen received his first Academy Awards nomination for Best Art Direction on Every Day's a Holiday. [6] He also worked as the associate art director on John Ford's Stagecoach which won the Academy Award for art direction for Alexander Toluboff.

During the 1940s, Ihnen twice won the Academy Award for art direction, for the biographical film Wilson (1944) and for Blood on the Sun (1945), a wartime film about a Japanese plot to take over the world. [7] [8]

Ihnen continued as an art director until 1960. His later works include the film noir works Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) and I, the Jury (1953), Fritz Lang's Rancho Notorious (1952), the aviation adventure film Top of the World (1955), and the biographical The Gallant Hours (1960).

Personal life and later years

In 1940, Ihnen was married in Las Vegas to Hollywood dress designer Edith Head. [9] Ihnen died from cancer in 1979. [2] He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, next to his wife. [10]


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  1. 1 2 Note: His obituary in the Los Angeles Times suggests he was born in approximately 1888.
  2. 1 2 "Wiard Ihnen Dies; Won Oscars for Movie Art Direction Work". Los Angeles Times. June 26, 1979 via Newspapers.com.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Wirad B. Ihnen Leaves for the Coast After Visit Here". The Herald-News. August 14, 1935. p. 12 via Newspapers.com.
  4. 1 2 Baxter, Peter J. (November 13, 1993). "Just watch!: Sternberg, Paramount and America". British Film Institute via Google Books.
  5. "Art Director: The Vision of Wiard Ihnen". Backstory: New Looks at Classic Films. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  6. "The 10th Academy Awards 1938". Oscars.org. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  7. "The 17th Academy Awards (1945) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  8. "The 18th Academy Awards (1946) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  9. Hedda Hopper (September 30, 1940). "Film Fashions Expert Married". Los Angeles Times via Newspapers.com.
  10. Ellenberger, Allan R. (May 1, 2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. ISBN   9780786409839.
  11. "Nancy Carroll and Hal Skelly Star In Love Melodrama at the Regen". The Ottawa Citizen. November 16, 1929 via Newspapers.com.
  12. "Duck Soup". American Film Institute. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  13. "Every Day's a Holiday". TCM Classic Movies. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  14. "Wilson". TCM Classic Movies. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  15. "Blood on the Sun". TCM Classic Movies. Retrieved September 14, 2020.