Christian Nyby
Born(1913-09-01)September 1, 1913
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedSeptember 17, 1993(1993-09-17) (aged 80)
Occupation(s)Film editor, film director
Years active1943–1975
SpouseThelma Litscher[1][2]
ChildrenChristian I. Nyby II
Kirkland R. Nyby [3][2]

Christian Nyby (September 1, 1913 – September 17, 1993) was an American television and film director and editor. As an editor, he had seventeen feature film credits from 1943 to 1952, including The Big Sleep (1946) and Red River (1948). From 1953 to 1975 he was a prolific director of episodes in many television series, including Gunsmoke and Wagon Train. As a feature film director, he is likely best known for The Thing from Another World (1951).[4][5]


Born in Los Angeles, and of Danish ancestry, he started his career as a film editor in the 1940s. He edited four films directed by Howard Hawks (To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Red River (1948), and The Big Sky (1952)).[6] Nyby was nominated for the Academy Award for Red River. He had begun his career in the carpentry division at the studios, worked his way up to editor, then received his first directing credit on Hawks' 1951 production of The Thing from Another World (or The Thing as it is more commonly known), which was an instant success.

Nyby went on to have a prolific television and movie directing career from the 1950s to the 1970s. Dick Vosburgh wrote in his obituary that "After editing Hawks's next film The Big Sky (1952), Nyby turned to television, directing Ann Sothern's sitcom Private Secretary, which ran for four years. He also directed episodes of The Twilight Zone, I Spy, Lassie, Gomer Pyle, USMC, Adam-12, Perry Mason, The Rockford Files, The Six Million Dollar Man, Ironside, and Kojak. He did especially impressive work on such western series as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Wagon Train, Whispering Smith, and Rawhide."[4] He also directed four more feature films Hell on Devil's Island, Young Fury, Operation C.I.A. (the first lead role for Burt Reynolds), and First to Fight.

The most influential film that Nyby directed is The Thing from Another World (1951), which continues to attract viewers and critical attention more than 70 years after its release, and which was selected in 2001 for preservation in the US National Film Registry.[7] Nyby's credit as the director has been challenged by some critics; Howard Hawks, the film's producer, was on the set for most of the filming, and is noted as one of the greatest film directors. Nyby said about the controversy in 1982:

Did Hawks direct it? That's one of the most inane and ridiculous questions I've ever heard, and people keep asking. That it was Hawks' style. Of course it was. This is a man I studied and wanted to be like. You would certainly emulate and copy the master you're sitting under, which I did. Anyway, if you're taking painting lessons from Rembrandt, you don't take the brush out of the master's hands.[8]

Nyby was the father of Christian I. Nyby II, a prolific television director in his own right, and Kirkland Royal Nyby, who while studying law appeared in a few TV acting roles in the early 1970s as Kirk Nyby,[9] before embarking on a legal career in California, finishing as Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner.[10]

Nyby died at age 80 in Temecula, California.

Filmography as director


  1. ^ MooseRoots Genealogy: Birth record of Christian Ib Nyby Archived December 2, 2014, at Linked December 2, 2014
  2. ^ a b TCM: Christian Nyby Linked December 2, 2014
  3. ^ MooseRoots Genealogy: Birth record of Kirkland Royal Nyby Archived December 2, 2014, at Linked December 2, 2014
  4. ^ a b Vosburgh, Dick (December 4, 1993). "Obituary: Christian Nyby". The Independent.
  5. ^ Christian Nyby at IMDb
  6. ^ "Works crediting Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks". The Internet Movie Database.
  7. ^ "Librarian of Congress Names 25 More Films to National Film Registry". press release. Library of Congress. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  8. ^ Fuhrmann, Henry (May 25, 1997). "A 'Thing' to His Credit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  9. ^ IMDb: Kirk Nyby Linked December 2, 2014
  10. ^ Metropolitan News, Friday, December 19, 2008: Court Commissioner Kirkland Nyby Sets Retirement Date Linked December 2, 2014

Further reading