Walter Mirisch


Producer
Walter Mirisch

About

Also Known As
Walter Mortimer Mirisch, Walter M. Mirisch
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
November 08, 1921

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 ...

Family & Companions

Patricia Kahan
Wife
Married on October 11, 1947.

Notes

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

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

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 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.

Filmography

 

Producer (Feature Film)

The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Executive Producer
A Case For Life (1996)
Executive Producer
Lily in Winter (1994)
Executive Producer
Trouble Shooters: Trapped Beneath the Earth (1993)
Executive Producer
Romantic Comedy (1983)
Producer
Dracula (1979)
Producer
The Prisoner of Zenda (1979)
Producer
High Midnight (1979)
Executive Producer
Same Time, Next Year (1978)
Producer
Midway (1976)
Producer
The Spikes Gang (1974)
Producer
Mr. Majestyk (1974)
Producer
Scorpio (1973)
Producer
The Organization (1971)
Producer
Halls of Anger (1970)
Executive Producer
The Hawaiians (1970)
Producer
They Call Me MISTER Tibbs (1970)
Executive Producer
Sinful Davey (1969)
Executive Producer
Some Kind of a Nut (1969)
Producer
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Producer
Fitzwilly (1967)
Producer
Hawaii (1966)
Producer
Toys in the Attic (1963)
Producer
Two for the Seesaw (1962)
Producer
By Love Possessed (1961)
Producer
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Executive Producer
Cast a Long Shadow (1959)
Producer
The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959)
Producer
The Man in the Net (1959)
Producer
Fort Massacre (1958)
Producer
The Tall Stranger (1957)
Producer
The Oklahoman (1957)
Producer
The First Texan (1956)
Producer
An Annapolis Story (1955)
Producer
Lord of the Jungle (1955)
Executive Producer
Seven Angry Men (1955)
Executive Producer
Wichita (1955)
Producer
The Warriors (1955)
Producer
Killer Leopard (1954)
Executive Producer
Fighter Attack (1953)
Executive Producer
Safari Drums (1953)
Executive Producer
The Maze (1953)
Executive Producer
Fort Osage (1952)
Producer
Flat Top (1952)
Producer
Hiawatha (1952)
Producer
The Rose Bowl Story (1952)
Executive Producer
African Treasure (1952)
Producer
Bomba and the Jungle Girl (1952)
Producer
Rodeo (1952)
Producer
Wild Stallion (1952)
Producer
Cavalry Scout (1951)
Producer
Elephant Stampede (1951)
Producer
Flight to Mars (1951)
Producer
The Lion Hunters (1951)
Producer
County Fair (1950)
Producer
The Hidden City (1950)
Producer
The Lost Volcano (1950)
Producer
Bomba on Panther Island (1949)
Producer
Bomba, the Jungle Boy (1949)
Producer
I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes (1948)
Producer
Fall Guy (1947)
Producer

Production Companies (Feature Film)

Sinful Davey (1969)
Company
Some Kind of a Nut (1969)
Company
Fitzwilly (1967)
Company
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Company
Hawaii (1966)
Company
Man of the West (1958)
Company

Life Events

1938

Worked for the Skouras 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

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"

Videos

Movie Clip

Wichita (1955) - My Name's Earp, Wyatt Earp Having been spied in silhouette in the opening scene, the star (Joel McCrea) introduces himself to the cattlemen, Walter Sande as the boss Wallace, Robert Wilke as Ben Thompson, Rayford Barnes as gun-curious Clements and Lloyd Bridges as Gyp, in Wichta, 1955, from producer Walter Mirisch, original story and screenplay by Daniel B. Ullman.
Wichita (1955) - Pretty Good Sized Man Packed scene after the opening of the railroad, Joel McCrea as visitor Wyatt Earp is making a deposit (Sam Peckinpah his teller!) when railroad chief McCoy (Walter Coy) arrives with wife, daughter, reporter Bat Masterson and the mayor (Mae Clarke, Vera Miles, Keith Larsen, Carl Benton Reid), and trouble ensues, George Sherwood the risk-averse sheriff, in Wichta, 1955.
Wichita (1955) - Babylon On The Arkansas River None of the principals appear here, as two guys we haven’t seen (Peter Graves and John Smith, whom we’ll learn play the brothers of the star, Joel McCrea as Marshal Wyatt Earp) arrive, meeting the bartender (William Newell) and the scheming saloon owner Black (Edgar Buchanan), in Wichta, 1955.
Fitzwilly (1967) - I'm Not Your Social Equal With her not knowing he’s hitting on her to cause her to quit her job, or that he’s more a scam artist than butler, or that it’s all to support their eccentric and broke mutual employer, Dick Van Dyke and college-gal/secretary Juliet (Barbara Feldon) visit a restaurant run by Billy Halop, in the Mirisch company’s Fitzwilly, 1967.
Fitzwilly (1967) - The Girl From Columbia Dick Van Dyke (New York butler and title character) receives job applicant Juliet (Barbara Feldon), determined not to reveal that his employer Miss Vicky (Edith Evans) is, unknowingly, broke, in Fitzwilly, 1967.
Lion Hunters, The (1951) - A Friend With A Grievance After his first scene alone with lions, and a wounded adult male, Bomba (Johnny Sheffield) hurries to see his neighbors, whom he refers to as “Masai” (why not?), all uncredited actors but including Woody Strode in his first movie, in the fifth feature in the Monogram series, The Lion Hunters, 1951.
Children's Hour, The (1961) - I Killed All The Patients Doctor Joe (James Garner) has been tangling with Martha (Shirley MacLaine). the partner of his fiancee` Karen (Audrey Hepburn) in a boarding school, and is tired of delaying the wedding, early in The Children's Hour, 1963, directed by William Wyler from Lillian Hellman's play.
Warriors, the (1955) - That Moat Looks Awfully Deep In charge of Aquitaine now that his father the king is back in England, Edward (Plantagenet) the “Black Prince” (Errol Flynn) receives his widow family friend Lady Joan (Joanne Dru), greeted by Sir Philip (Robert Urquhart), who’ll do as she pleases, in The Warriors, 1955.
Warriors, the (1955) - To England And St. George After an English victory in France, 1359, King Edward III (Michael Hordern, age 44) informs his son Edward, Prince of Wales (Errol Flynn, age 46, his first scene), that he’ll be taking over, in The Warriors, 1955, in Cinemascope and Technicolor from Allied Artists and producer Walter Mirisch.
In The Heat Of The Night (1967) - Bow Legged Polly People forget that Warren Oates as deputy Wood carries the first several sequences, cruising the fictional town of Sparta, Mississippi, to an original tune on the radio, by Quincy Jones and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, sung by Glen Campbell, opening In The Heat Of The Night, 1967.
In The Heat Of The Night (1967) - I'll Pay For The Call Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), hauled in as a murder suspect, reveals his identity to Mississippi Sheriff Gillespie (Rod Steiger), who summons deputy Wood (Warren Oates), early in Norman Jewison's In The Heat Of The Night, 1967.
Magnificent Seven, The (1960) - You Lost Chris (Yul Brynner) and Vin (Steve McQueen) are seeking recruits when they find taciturn Britt (James Coburn), dealing with a cocky cowpuncher (Robert Wilke), in director John Sturges' version of a famous scene from Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, in The Magnificent Seven, 1960.

Trailer

Hawaii - (Original Trailer) Missionairies to the Hawaiian Islands fight nature, disease and their own passions in Hawaii (1966) starring Julie Andrews, Max von Sydow, and Richard Harris.
Fort Massacre - (Original Trailer) A possibly mad cavalry commander (Joel McCrea) leads his troops through dangerous Indian territory in Fort Massacre (1958).
Fitzwilly - (Original Trailer) When an aging philanthropist goes broke, her butler (Dick Van Dyke) robs from the rich so she can give to the poor.
Cast a Long Shadow - (Original Trailer) Audie Murphy plays a hard-drinking drifter who tries to claim a deceased cattle baron's estate in Cast A Long Shadow (1959).
By Love Possessed - (Original Trailer) Lana Turner's desperate search for love leads to an affair with her husband's law partner in John Sturges' By Love Possessed (1961).
Same Time, Next Year - (Original Trailer) Although married to others, a man (Alan Alda) and a woman (Ellen Burstyn) embark on an annual affair in Same Time, Next Year (1978).
Midway - (Original Trailer) Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda star in Midway (1976), a spectacular re-creation of the World War II battle that turned the tide for the U.S. in the Pacific.
Man in the Net, The - (Original Trailer) When his wife disappears, a commercial artist (Alan Ladd) is suspected in The Man in the Net (1959).
Gunfight at Dodge City, The - (Original Trailer) Joel McCrea plays Bat Masterson as a tougher kind of maverick in The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959).
Hawaiians, The - (Original Trailer) James A. Michener's story of Hawaii continues in The Hawaiians (1970) with Charlton Heston seeking power and finding love in the islands.
Two For The Seesaw -- (Original Trailer) A conservative attorney (Robert Mitchum) considering a divorce gets involved with an emotionally fragile dancer (Shirley MacLaine) in New York, in Two For The Seesaw, 1962, from the play by William Gibson.
Scorpio - (Original Trailer) Burt Lancaster gets a "burn notice" from the CIA and they send his friend Alain Delon out to kill him in Scorpio (1973).

Family

Max Mirisch
Father
Josephine Mirisch
Mother
Marvin Mirisch
Brother
Producer. Born March 19, 1918, New York NY; co-founder of Mirisch Company, Inc.
Harold Mirisch
Brother
Producer. Born 1907; co-founder of Mirisch Company, Inc.; died 1968.
Anne Mirisch
Daughter
Andrew Mirisch
Son
Lawrence Mirisch
Son
Executive. Founder, The Mirisch Agency.

Companions

Patricia Kahan
Wife
Married on October 11, 1947.

Bibliography

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