Vilmos Sándorházi (William S. Darling) was born in 1882 in Sándorháza in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Sandra in today’s Romania). He moved to the USA in 1910. As a production designer, he was nominated by the Academy seven times and won the award three times. His 1934 win for the film Cavalcade made him the first Hungarian to win an Oscar!
Hungarian-born Wilmos Bela Sandorhaji arrived in the U.S. in 1910, with qualifications from the Royal Academy of Art in Budapest and the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris. He enjoyed his first success as a portrait painter in New York, prior to the outbreak of World War I. By the time he relocated to Hollywood ten years later, he had adopted his wife’s maiden name of Darling. After a brief stint with the American Film Company, he signed a contract with (20th Century) Fox in 1922. Until his departure in 1946, Darling held the position as pre-eminent supervising art director at the studio, involved in equal measure with prestige releases and B-pictures. He provided striking sets for a variety of exotic subjects from Zoo in Budapest (1933) to The Rains Came (1939), on several occasions working with the illustrious director John Ford. Darling was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning three times: for Cavalcade (1933), Bernadette (1943) and for Anna and the King of Siam (1946).
After his retirement from film work in the mid-1950’s, Darling devoted himself to painting idyllic desert landscapes and coastal scenes, in oil or watercolour on canvas. Until his death in September 1964, Darling was strongly involved in his local arts communities in Laguna Beach and Palm Springs, maintaining residencies in both. He was inducted into the Art Director’s Guild Hall of Fame in 2011.