Born in New York on October 13, 1912 (some sources indicate 1915 as his year of birth), to Hungarian immigrants, handsome Cornel Wilde gave up the chance to be an Olympic athlete when he chose acting over fencing in the 1930s. His fencing expertise would later come in handy when starting his acting career. As a college student Wilde studied medicine but abandoned the field when his interest in acting took over. Not long afterward, he married actress Patricia Knight, in 1937. Wilde toiled in the legitimate theatre for a few years and then went to Hollywood, where he soon was put under contract to Warner Bros. The studio gave Wilde smaller parts in several films but dropped his option in 1941. Wilde then signed with 20th Century-Fox, where he was cast as the lead in a number of swashbucklers and film noir thrillers.

Cornel Wilde and Jean Wallace

With second wife Jean Wallace

Proving popular with audiences, Cornel Wilde starred in a number of Fox's A and B productions in the 1940s through the early 1950s. His marriage to Knight ended in divorce in 1951. In late 1950, he met actress Jean Wallace (who had at one time been married to actor Franchot Tone), and Wilde married Wallace in September 1951. Around the time of his second marriage, Wilde's contract with Fox lapsed; rather than signing with another studio, he elected to freelance. In the mid 1950s, Wilde started Theodora Productions, a film production company. From the mid 1950s on, he often produced and directed and sometimes wrote his own films, including Storm Fear (1955; with Dan Duryea and Lee Grant), Maracaibo (1958; with Michael Landon and Abbe Lane), and The Naked Prey (1966), sometimes casting wife Jean Wallace in his films. In addition to starring in his own productions, Wilde continued freelancing for other studios.

the films of cornel wilde

A Thousand and One Nights (1945)

Cornel Wilde and Evelyn KeyesAdele Jergens and Cornel WildeAdele Jergens and Cornel WildeAdele Jergens and Cornel WildeCornel Wilde

From the comedic Columbia adventure A Thousand and One Nights. LEFT: On the set with Evelyn Keyes and her yo-yo. CENTER: With Adele Jergens. RIGHT: With Phil Silvers

Forever Amber (1947)

Cornel Wilde

Wilde in his dressing room during the shooting of Forever Amber

The Walls of Jericho (1948)

Linda Darnell, Cornel Wilde, and Kirk Douglas

Wilde portrays the object of Linda Darnell's desires although she's married to Kirk Douglas in the 20th Century Fox drama The Walls of Jericho

Suspense (CBS radio series, 1950)

Cornel Wilde

Press photo from the December 28, 1950 CBS radio broadcast of Suspense, episode A Ring for Marya

At Sword's Point (1952)

Cornel Wilde

From RKO's At Sword's Point

Woman's World (1954)

Cornel Wilde and Lauren Bacall

With Lauren Bacall in the 20th Century Fox release Woman's World

Beyond Mombasa (1956)

Cornel Wilde and Donna Reed

From the Columbia adventure flick Beyond Mombasa with Donna Reed

Hot Blood (1956)

Cornel Wilde and Jane Russell

With Jane Russell in the Columbia musical Hot Blood

Omar Khayyam (1957)

Debra Paget and Cornel WildeCornel Wilde and Debra Paget

With Debra Paget in Omar Khayyam

Maracaibo (1958)

Jean Wallace and Cornel Wilde

With Jean Wallace in the drama Maracaibo, which was produced and directed by Cornel Wilde

The Sword Of Lancelot (1963)

Cornel Wilde

Wilde looks remarkably youthful as Sir Lancelot in the adventure Lancelot and Guinevere, a film which he also directed

The Naked Prey (1966)

Cornel WildeCornel Wilde

From Wilde's thrilling adventure The Naked Prey. Shot mostly in South Africa, this film was directed by Wilde on a budget of $900,000

Sharks' Treasure (1975)

Cornel Wilde and Yaphet Kotto

Lobby card from Sharks' Treasure with Yaphet Kotto

later years

As Wilde's film career slowed in the early 1960s, he turned to television, acting as occasional host for NBC's Kraft Mystery Theater. In 1963, he joined the cast of the series The Greatest Show on Earth, based on the 1952 film of the same name in which Wilde had starred. The hour-long show survived only one season. After this series was canceled, he made perhaps his best film, producing and directing the 1966 release The Naked Prey, shot in South Africa to save on production costs. Wilde followed up this film with the war picture Beach Red (1967) but afterward appeared only sporadically in films through the late 1970s, when he retired. Wilde's marriage to Jean Wallace ended in divorce in 1980. Sadly, Cornel Wilde passed away from complications arising from leukemia at age 77 on October 16, 1989. He was survived by a daughter and a son. His ex-wife Jean Wallace died just a few months later on February 14, 1990, at age 66.

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Flesh and Bullets (1985) with Yvonne De Carlo, Aldo Ray, and Cesar Romero
The Fifth Musketeer (1979) with Sylvia Kristel, Ursula Andress, Beau Bridges, and Lloyd Bridges
The Norseman (1978) with Lee Majors, Jack Elam, and Denny Miller
Sharks' Treasure (1975) with Yaphet Kotto
Gargoyles (1972) with Grayson Hall, Bernie Casey, Scott Glenn, and Jennifer Salt
The Comic (1969) with Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney
Beach Red (1967) with Rip Torn and Jean Wallace
The Naked Prey (1966) directed by Cornel Wilde
Lancelot and Guinevere (1963) with Jean Wallace and Brian Aherne; directed by Cornel Wilde
Constantine and the Cross (1962) with Massimo Serato
Edge of Eternity (1959) with Mickey Shaughnessy, Jack Elam, and Dabbs Greer
Maracaibo (1958) with Jean Wallace, Abbe Lane, and Michael Landon
The Devil's Hairpin (1957) with Jean Wallace and Mary Astor
Omar Khayyam (1957) with Debra Paget, Michael Rennie, Raymond Massey, and John Derek
Beyond Mombasa (1956) with Donna Reed and Christopher Lee
Hot Blood (1956) with Jane Russell
Storm Fear (1956) with Jean Wallace, Dan Duryea, and Lee Grant
The Scarlet Coat (1955) with Anne Francis, George Sanders, and Michael Wilding
The Big Combo (1955) with Brian Donlevy, Richard Conte, Lee Van Cleef, Helen Walker, and Jean Wallace
Passion (1954) with Yvonne De Carlo, Lon Chaney Jr., and Raymond Burr
Woman's World (1954) with Arlene Dahl, Fred MacMurray, Clifton Webb, Van Heflin, Lauren Bacall, and June Allyson
Saadia (1953) with Mel Ferrer and Rita Gam
Star of India (1953) with Jean Wallace and Herbert Lom
Main Street to Broadway (1953) with Agnes Moorehead, Herb Shriner, Rosemary DeCamp, and dozens of cameos
Treasure of the Golden Condor (1953) with Anne Bancroft, George Macready, Leo G. Carroll, and Fay Wray
Operation Secret (1952) with Steve Cochran, Phyllis Thaxter, and Anthony Eisley
California Conquest (1952) with Teresa Wright and Lisa Ferraday
At Sword's Point (1952) with Maureen O'Hara and Nancy Gates
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) with Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Betty Hutton, and Dorothy Lamour
Two Flags West (1950) with Joseph Cotten, Linda Darnell, and Jeff Chandler
Swiss Tour (1949) with Simone Signoret
Shockproof (1949) with Patricia Knight
The Walls of Jericho (1948) with Linda Darnell, Anne Baxter, and Kirk Douglas
Road House (1948) with Ida Lupino and Celeste Holm
The Homestretch (1947) with Maureen O'Hara, Helen Walker, and Glenn Langan
Stairway for a Star (1947)
It Had to Be You (1947) with Ginger Rogers and Spring Byington
Forever Amber (1947) with Linda Darnell, George Sanders, John Russell, Glenn Langan, and Anne Revere
Centennial Summer (1946) with Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, and Constance Bennett
The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946) with Edgar Buchanan and George Macready
Leave Her to Heaven (1945) with Gene Tierney, Jeanne Crain, and Vincent Price
A Thousand and One Nights (1945) with Evelyn Keyes, Phil Silvers, Adele Jergens, and Shelley Winters
A Song to Remember (1945) with Paul Muni and Merle Oberon
Wintertime (1943) with Sonja Henie, Cesar Romero, Carole Landis, and Jack Oakie
Life Begins at Eight-Thirty (1942) with Monty Woolley and Ida Lupino
Manila Calling (1942) with Lloyd Nolan and Carole Landis
Kisses for Breakfast (1941) with Dennis Morgan and Jane Wyatt
The Perfect Snob (1941) with Charlotte Greenwood, Charles Ruggles, and Lynn Bari
Knockout (1941) with Arthur Kennedy and Anthony Quinn
High Sierra (1941) with Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino

The Greatest Show on Earth, 1963-1964 ABC TV series
Kraft Mystery Theater, 1961 NBC TV series

Murder, She Wrote, episode The Way to Dusty Death, originally aired October 25, 1987
Mike Hammer, episode Mike's Baby, originally aired October 18, 1986
The Love Boat, episode Prisoner of Love/Youth Takes a Holiday/Don't Leave Home Without It, originally aired October 15, 1983
Fantasy Island, episode Charlie's Cherubs/Stalag 3, originally aired december 9, 1978
Night Gallery, episode Deliveries in the Rear, originally aired February 9, 1972
Kraft Suspense Theatre, episode Doesn't Anyone Know Who I Am?, originally aired February 27, 1964
General Electric Theater, episode The Great Alberti, originally aired November 5, 1961
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, episode Around the World with Nellie Bly, originally aired January 3, 1960
Alcoa Theatre, episode Coast to Coast, originally aired October 20, 1958
Star Stage, episode Screen Credit, originally aired January 27, 1956
General Electric Theater, episode The Blond Dog, originally aired March 6, 1955

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