|Born||Robert Burgess Aldrich
August 9, 1918
Cranston, Rhode Island, U.S.
|Died||December 5, 1983
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Film director, film producer|
(m. 1941–1965; divorced)
(m. 1966–1983; his death)
Robert Burgess Aldrich (August 9, 1918 – December 5, 1983) was an American film director, writer and producer, notable for such films as Kiss Me Deadly (1955), The Big Knife (1955), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), and The Longest Yard (1974).
Aldrich was born in Cranston, Rhode Island, the son of Lora Lawson and newspaper publisher Edward Burgess 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 where he also was a letterman on the 1940 football team. In 1941, he left university for a minor job at RKO Radio Pictures.
He quickly rose in film production as an assistant director, and worked with Jean Renoir, Abraham Polonsky, Joseph Losey and Charlie Chaplin, 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, and Attack (1956), a World War II infantry combat film exploring how U.S. Army careerism determined who attacked and who ordered the attack. During the 1950s, Aldrich directed mostly action stories, including early films like Apache and Vera Cruz, both starred Burt Lancaster. In 1959 he was head of the jury at the 9th Berlin International Film Festival.
In the 1960s, he directed several commercially successful films, such as the gothic horror stories What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), featuring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as spiteful sisters and faded child-actresses, the follow-up Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte, with Bette Davis as a Southern woman who lives in a mansion and thinks she is going insane (both Joan Crawford and Davis were to appear, but Crawford left the film); the sexually controversial The Killing of Sister George (1968); and the war film 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 humanism is thematically evident in The Longest Yard (1974), about the rigged-game politics, and Ulzana's Raid (1972) about the post–Civil War violence against Native (and not only Native) Americans.
From his marriage to Harriet Foster (1941–1965), Robert Aldrich had four children, all of whom work in the film business: Adell, William, Alida and Kelly. In 1966, after divorcing his first wife, Harriet, he married fashion model Sybille Siegfried.
In 1983, Aldrich died at age 65 from kidney failure in an Los Angeles Hospital.
In 2012, John Patterson of The Guardian commented that Aldrich is "a wonderful director nearly 30 years dead now, whose body of work is in danger of slipping over the horizon." Japanese film director Kiyoshi Kurosawa noted Aldrich's influence on him.
- Story of G.I. Joe (1945) (assistant director)
- Caught (1949) (uncredited director of reshoots)
- Limelight (1952) (assistant director)
- 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)
Unmade projects 
- Rebellion (late 1960s) - a Western
- The Crowded Bed (early 1970s)
- The Greatest Mother of Them All (1969) - film about a broken down director living with a young girl - Aldrich made a 30 minute short with Peter Finch to try and raise funding
- Rage of Honor (1970s) - Western set in 1929 about an aging cowboy
- Coffe, Tea or Me (early 1970s) - comedy about virginal air stewardess
- virginiasports.com "All Time Letter Winners"
- "9th Berlin International Film Festival: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- Patterson, John (December 7, 2012). "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane should remind us of the talent of Robert Aldrich". The Guardian.
- Gonzalez, Ed (February 10, 2005). "Bright Future - DVD Review - Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine.
- Robert Aldrich at the Internet Movie Database
- Robert Aldrich at the TCM Movie Database
- Robert Aldrich at AllRovi
- Robert Aldrich biography and credits at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Robert Aldrich at Find a Grave
- Literature on Robert Aldrich