Oliver Stone

Controversial director, screenwriter and producer Oliver Stone was born Sept. 15, 1946, in New York City, leaving NYU's film school for Vietnam in the late '60s and entering film production upon his return. Stone's wartime and political experiences would forever color his films.

The thrillers Seizure and The Hand were Stone's first writing and directing jobs, but his screenplays for Midnight Express (which won an Oscar in 1978) and Scarface brought him more attention. He then directed Salvador (1986), followed by Platoon -- the first of his Vietnam trilogy films (including 1989's Born on the Fourth of July) that would earn him directing Oscars.

High-profile films such as Wall Street, JFK and Nixon sparked debates among critics and historians but earned many awards, while Stone's later films (Natural Born Killers, U Turn, Any Given Sunday and Alexander) were criticized for their excess.