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Walter Mirisch

Walter Mirisch

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Also Known As: Walter Mortimer Mirisch, Walter M. Mirisch Died:
Born: November 8, 1921 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: producer, executive

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The legendary Walter Mirisch got his start producing low-budget features for the more famous of the "Poverty Row" studios, Monogram, and served as executive producer with its subsidiary, Allied Artists, before forming an independent production company with his brother Marvin (born 1918) and half-brother Harold (born 1907) in 1957. The Mirisch Company, Inc. soon emerged as the preeminent independent production outfit of the period, following the decline of the Hollywood studio system.The Mirisch brothers began as producers with the "Bomba" series of low-budget films starring Johnny Sheffield - formerly 'Boy' in the "Tarzan" movies - as well as with action and Western movies. As Allied Artists head of production, Mirisch also supervised such classics as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956). When they opened their own shop, the Mirisch Company at first offered Westerns, beginning with "Fort Massacre" (1958) and "Gunfight at Dodge City" (1958) before soon becoming more ambitious.Mirisch was executive producer of "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), the same year the Mirisch Company produced Billy Wilder's "The Apartment," which won the Best Picture Oscar. The Mirisch Company's 1961 release, "West Side...

The legendary Walter Mirisch got his start producing low-budget features for the more famous of the "Poverty Row" studios, Monogram, and served as executive producer with its subsidiary, Allied Artists, before forming an independent production company with his brother Marvin (born 1918) and half-brother Harold (born 1907) in 1957. The Mirisch Company, Inc. soon emerged as the preeminent independent production outfit of the period, following the decline of the Hollywood studio system.

The Mirisch brothers began as producers with the "Bomba" series of low-budget films starring Johnny Sheffield - formerly 'Boy' in the "Tarzan" movies - as well as with action and Western movies. As Allied Artists head of production, Mirisch also supervised such classics as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956). When they opened their own shop, the Mirisch Company at first offered Westerns, beginning with "Fort Massacre" (1958) and "Gunfight at Dodge City" (1958) before soon becoming more ambitious.

Mirisch was executive producer of "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), the same year the Mirisch Company produced Billy Wilder's "The Apartment," which won the Best Picture Oscar. The Mirisch Company's 1961 release, "West Side Story," also won the Oscar for Best Picture. In 1967, Mirisch, himself, produced the Academy Award-winning Best Picture, "In the Heat of the Night," starring Rod Steiger as a Southern sheriff forced to forge a relationship and take help from a northern African-American police lieutenant (Sidney Poitier). With his proven track record, Mirisch continued producing motion pictures into the 1970s, including an ambitious rendition of "Dracula" (1979).

Although the Mirisch brothers had produced NBC's 1959 series "Wichita Town" starring Joel McCrea, the company did not delve into television production on a regular basis until the 1980s, when Mirisch was executive producer of a series of "Desperado" TV movies. The company remained active in TV into the next decade, and in 1996 offered "A Case for Life," a telefilm about two sisters - one who is pregnant and is against abortion; the other who is pro-choice.

Key directors associated with The Mirisch Company during the golden years included Billy Wilder, John Huston, Blake Edwards and Norman Jewison. Notable films produced directly by Mirisch or which he supervised include "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971), "The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming" (1968), "The Pink Panther" (1964), "The Children's Hour" (1964), "Some Like It Hot" (1959) and "Toys in the Attic" (1963). Mirisch was also known for his many activities in the entertainment industry. He served four terms as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and three terms as president of the Producers Guild of America.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1938:
Worked for the Skouras Theatre Corporation
:
Worked for the Oriental Theatre Corporation
1945:
Joined Monogram Pictures (later Allied Artists)
1947:
Produced first film, "Fall Guy"
1951:
Appointed an executive producer with Allied Artists in July
1957:
Founded Mirisch Co. with brothers
1958:
Produced "Fort Massacre", first Mirisch Co. film
:
Produced TV series, "Wichita Town"
1960:
Produced "The Magnificent Seven"
1961:
Mirisch Company offers "West Side Story"
1966:
Produced "Hawaii"
1967:
Produced "In the Heat of the Night"
1969:
President and executive head of production, The Mirisch Corporation
1974:
Produced "Serpico"
1983:
Produced "Romantic Comedy"
1987:
Executive producer, "Desperado" for NBC, first in a series of TV movies
1996:
Executive producer, TV-movie, "A Case for Life"
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Education

City College of New York: New York , New York -
University of Wisconsin: Madison , Wisconsin - 1942
Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University Cambridge, MA: - 1943

Notes

He was president of Screen Producers Guild (1960-61)

Board of directors member to the Motion Picture Association of America in 1962.

Served as President of the Permanent Charities Committee (1962-63)

He is a member on the board of governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1964, 1972); president (1973-77)

He has served as President of the Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles

"I like to challenge an audience. I especially like movies that are provocative, that have a meaningful theme while stimulating us with new ideas." --Walter Mirisch

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Patricia Kahan. Married on October 11, 1947.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Max Mirisch.
mother:
Josephine Mirisch.
brother:
Marvin Mirisch. Producer. Born March 19, 1918, New York NY; co-founder of Mirisch Company, Inc.
brother:
Harold Mirisch. Producer. Born 1907; co-founder of Mirisch Company, Inc.; died 1968.
daughter:
Anne Mirisch.
son:
Andrew Mirisch.
son:
Lawrence Mirisch. Executive. Founder, The Mirisch Agency.
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