06/22/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT
Hollywood's most acclaimed writer-director, Billy Wilder (who's got the Oscars to prove it), turned 95 on Friday, an event that was decidedly not overlooked in various corners of the world, reports the L.A. Times. The legendary Viennese native, who escaped Hitler by making movies and coming to Hollywood, was named grand officer of the Legion of Honor by the French government, the highest accolade given by France except to heads of state. Also, the German art book publisher, Taschen, has issued an illustrated book on "Some Like It Hot," Wilder's 1959 comedic masterpiece with Marilyn Monroe -- which the American Film Institute recently voted the funniest movie of the 20th century. (It coincidentally was released on DVD only last month.) Other Wilder gems: "Sabrina" with Audrey Hepburn, "Sunset Boulevard," "Double Indemnity," "Witness for the Prosecution" "The Lost Weekend," "Stalag 17" and "The Apartment." Still never at a loss for words, despite some recent health setbacks, the master of the quip had this to say about the attention paid him on his natal day: "It's a good beginning."