Oscar-winning director Robert Wise died of heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital on Wednesday (14SEP05), only five days after celebrating his 91st birthday.

The Sound Of Music film-maker fell ill on Wednesday and was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center, where he died, his longtime agent and friend LAWRENCE MIRISCH has confirmed.

Indiana-born Wise started his film career in 1934, when he worked as an apprentice sounds editor on OF HUMAN BONDAGE, before moving on to editing in 1939. His outstanding editing of Orson Welles' movie classic Citizen Kane in 1941 led to the first of seven Oscar nominations, when he was up for Best Editing in 1942.

Wise graduated to directing in 1944 with THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE and went on to direct 39 films throughout his seven decade long career.

Wise directed a host of classic films, including The Sound Of Music, West Side Story, THE HAUNTING and Star Trek: THE MOTION PICTURE.

Always versatile in his choice of film genres, Wise said, "I'd rather do my own thing, which has been to choose projects that take me into all different kinds of genres. I don't have a favourite kind of film to make. I just look for the best material I can find."

Wise won his first two Academy Awards in 1962, when musical West Side Story was named Best Picture and Best Director, which Wise shared with Jerome Robbins. Four years later (66), he picked up two more Oscars for The Sound Of Music - again Best Picture and Best Director.

In 1988 he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement accolade from the Directors Guild of America (DGA), followed by another lifetime recognition award from the American Film Institute (AFI) in 1998.

His wife PATRICIA DOYLE died in 1975 after 33 years of marriage. The couple had no children.