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Oscar-winning producer Walter Mirisch dies at 101

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Walter Mirisch is the shrewd Oscar-winning filmmaker behind such classics as “Some Like It Hot,” “West Side Story” and “Summer Days.” film, he died of natural causes, which Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Said Saturday. He is 101 years old.


what you need to know

  • Mirish died Friday in Los Angeles, according to a statement from the academy’s chief executive, Bill Kramer, and dean, Janet Young.
  • Mirisch wins the 1967 Academy Award for Best Picture “In the heat of the night,” And he and his brothers run the company that also produced Oscar-winning film “The Apartment” and “West Side Story.”
  • The Academy said the New York native’s film career spanned more than six years
  • He has other hit films including Some Like It Hot, The Magnificent Seven, Fiddler on the Roof, Battle Royale and The Affair with Thomas the Crown

Mirish died Friday in Los Angeles, according to statements from the academy’s chief executive, Bill Kramer, and dean Janet Young.

“Walter was a true visionary, both as a producer and as an industry leader,” they said, noting that he served as president and dean of the academy for many years. “His passion for filmmaking and the Academy has never wavered, and he remains a dear friend and advisor. We send our love and support to his family during this difficult time.”

Mirisch wins the 1967 Academy Award for Best Picture “In the heat of the night,” And the company he and his brothers run produced Oscar-winning films “The Apartment” and “West Side Story.”

Born eight years before the inaugural Oscars, he served as Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences From 1973 to 1977 and received two Honorary Academy Awards in 1978 and 1983 for his work and humanitarian efforts.

As a producer, Mirisch aggressively recruited top filmmakers such as Billy Wilder and Norman Jewison, then gave them free rein to make films as they saw fit.

“We gave these filmmakers what they needed,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1983. need to know. …In effect, we became partners with our directors.

His firm’s permanent directors include not only Wilder and Jewison, but also Blake Edwards and John Sturges. The company also produced films for John Ford, John Huston, William Wheeler, George Roy Hill and Hal Ashby.

Mirisch entered the film industry in his early teens, rising from usher to management positions at a theater chain before continuing to work in low-budget action films and Westerns in the late 1940s.

The company he founded with his brother Marvin and half-brother Harold in 1957 is one of the most successful independent production companies, emerging from the old film studio system as television cuts movie audiences.

The Mirischs wrote a string of hits from the 1950s to the 1970s, including “The Magnificent Seven,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The Great Escape,” “Here Come the Russians, Here Come the Russians,” ” The Affair of Thomas Crown,” “The Pink Panther,” and its sequel, “A Shot in the Dark.”

Their company started with a handful of Westerns before producing 1959’s “Some Like It Hot,” a Wilder comedy co-starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as A runaway cross-dressing musician.

Mirisch is willing to take on unusual projects. As a Harvard-trained business executive, he effectively oversaw the commercial side of things, allowing his fellow filmmakers to focus on their films.

Elmore Leonard – the crime novelist and screenwriter who worked on two of Mirisch’s works, 1974’s “Mr. Majestyk” and the 1987 TV movie “Desperado” – dedicated his Hollywood satire “Get Shorty” to Mirisch, calling him “one of the good guys.”

He was also one of the few filmmakers to receive a lifetime achievement honor at the 2002 Academy Awards, along with Sidney Poitier.

“Those filmmakers persevere and bring out the best in all of us through their art,” said Poitiers, who starred in Mirisch’s “In the Heat of the Night” and its sequel, “They Call Me Monsieur Tibbs.” ! “

The Mirisch brothers fine-tune their management style on a film-by-film basis, depending on how much oversight they think the director wants or needs. In a 1972 interview with Film & Shoot magazine, Mirisch said that some directors worked well as their own producers, while others had little interest in actual filmmaking.

“We’ve worked with great directors and producer-directors, and I must say, it’s been a completely different relationship with each of them,” he said.

The Mirisch brothers have been a team for most of their career and they also work in theater. Before joining Allied Artists Productions in the 1940’s, Walter worked as a producer and later as a production supervisor, with Harold and Marvin in administrative roles.

While at Allied, Walter produced westerns and a series of low-budget films in the “Jungle Boy Bomba” series starring Johnny Sheffield, who played the boy in the 1940’s “Tarzan” films.

After his eldest brother Harold passed away in 1968, the surviving siblings continued their company with Marvin as chairman and youngest brother Walter in charge of production. Marvin passed away in 2002.

Walter Mirisch continued to make theatrical films until the 80’s.Despite a general decline in the quality and commercial success of his films, there are still some successes, including oscar nomination and a Golden Globes For “same time next year”. Other films later in his career include Midway, Cinderella Down and the 1979 version of Dracula. He was also an executive producer on several television projects in the 1990s.

Walter Mortimer Mirisch was born November 8, 1921 in New York City. After studying at the City College of New York, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1942 and a master’s degree in business from Harvard University in 1943.

In 1947, Mirisch married Patricia Kahan, who had preceded him. They have three children, Anne, Andrew and Lawrence.

Instead of flowers, the family is asking for a donation to the Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF).

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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