Walter Mirisch Death: The Oscar-winning producer of “In the Heat of the Night,” Walter Mirisch, who served as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ former president, passed away on February 24 in Los Angeles from natural causes. He was 101.
The Motion Picture Academy issued a statement on Saturday confirming Mirisch’s passing.
The statement from Academy President Janet Yang and CEO Bill Kramer added, “The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extremely saddened to hear of Walter’s loss. “As a producer and a pioneer in his field, Walter was truly imaginative. He served as our President and an Academy governor for many years, and during that time he had a significant influence on both the film industry and the Academy. He remained a close friend and counsellor, and his love for movies and the Academy never wavered. We offer his family our love and support during this trying time.
Mirisch was one of Hollywood’s most respected and influential producers in the middle of the 20th century. Along with his brothers Harold and Marvin, he formed The Mirisch Corporation in 1957; under this name, such classics as “Some Like It Hot” (1959), “The Magnificent Seven” (1960), “The Great Escape” (1963), “The Pink Panther” (1963), and “The Thomas Crown Affair” have been produced (1968). The Apartment (1960), “West Side Story” (1961), and “In the Heart of the Night” (1967), for which Mirisch won the Academy Award for best picture, were all produced by The Mirisch Corporation.
Throughout the course of his illustrious career, which lasted more than six decades, the Academy recognised Mirisch twice more. The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award was given to him in 1978 in recognition of his “consistently high level of motion picture production.” The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was given to Mirisch in 1983 in recognition of his “humanitarian activities [that] have brought credit to the business.”
From 1973 to 1977, Mirisch presided over the Academy for four times. He also served as a governor for the organisation for fifteen years. He played a key role in the institution’s decision to establish a new headquarters in Beverly Hills.
Mirisch was mentioned by Steven Spielberg as a beloved friend and mentor over the years.
Spielberg said in a statement, “Walter cut a big figure in the movie business and his films were trailblazing classics that embraced every genre while never failing to captivate audiences across the world. “If you live to be 101 and produce ‘The Apartment,’ I’d say it’s been a good run,” said one person. “He achieved so much in life and in the industry.”
He was described by Spielberg as “both a gentleman and a passionate promoter of good films,” and he helped “several generations of dedicated filmmakers,” according to Spielberg.
He also “recognised a good narrative when he found one, and fought tooth and nail to get it on the screen,” according to Spielberg. He had the greatest affection for the Academy in our history. Over the years, I treasured our meals in the Universal commissary, and he was as kind and generous with his companionship as he was with his counsel. Because I knew Walter, I’m a better director and person overall.
Mirisch, who was born in New York in 1921, completed his World War II employment at a bomber plane manufacturing before enrolling in classes at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Harvard Business School. Up to her passing in 2005, he had been married for 60 years to Patricia Mirisch.
At the Producers Guild of America, the Los Angeles Music Center, the Motion Picture and Television Foundation, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and UCLA, Mirisch also held executive positions.
Sons Andrew and Lawrence, daughter Anne, granddaughter and two great-grandsons survive Mirisch. The Mirisch family desires that memorial contributions be sent to the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Mirisch’s honour.
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