Mel Stuart originally aspired to a career in music. On graduating from New York University, however, he decided to become a filmmaker. In 1960, David Wolper asked him to join the newly formed Wolper Organization, where Stuart served in key executive positions for the next 17 years. During that time he produced and directed dozens of documentaries, including The Making of the President, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Four Days in November and Wattstax. He also directed such hit features as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.
Since 1977, Stuart has worked as an independent producer and director on such documentary productions as Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde, Billy Wilder: The Human Comedy, AFI's 100 Years-100 Movies, Inside the KGB, and the reality series Ripley's Believe It or Not. He also produced or directed television dramas including Bill, The Triangle Factory Fire and Ruby and Oswald. Stuart served as President of the International Documentary Association for two years and has been the recipient of many Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and an Oscar nomination for his work. He directed and produced The Hobart Shakespeareans (POV 2005), and a series on living American poets.