September 15, 2005 10:05 AM

Eclectic director Robert Wise died of heart failure Wednesday after being rushed to the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, his agent said.

Wise celebrated his 91st birthday Saturday and appeared to be healthy, the Associated Press reports. But he fell ill Wednesday and was taken to the hospital.

The Oscar-winning director was a well-known Hollywood figure who worked on a number of influential films, including Citizen Kane with Orson Welles, but who really came into his prime at the helm of the musicals West Side Story and The Sound of Music.

Those two films earned the director four Oscars, and together they earned 15 Academy Awards.

Wise directed 39 films in all, ranging from Westerns to war stories to science fiction. That he avoided getting stuck in any particular type of film seemed a point of pride for him.

“I’d rather do my own thing, which has been to choose projects that take me into all different kinds of genres,” he once told an interviewer. “I don’t have a favorite kind of film to make. I just look for the best material I can find.”

Wise is survived by his wife, Millicent, who was in Spain at the San Sebastian Film Festival at the time of his death. The festival was featuring a retrospective of his work.

Wise’s last film was the 1989 effort Rooftops.

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