Walter Mirisch, Oscar-winning producer, dead at 101
Los Angeles –
The brilliant and Oscar-winning film producer Walter Milish, who directed such classics as Some Like It Hot, West Side Story, and In the Heat of the Night, has brought natural death, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and science said on Saturday. he was 101 years old.
Milish died in Los Angeles on Friday, according to statements from Academy CEO Bill Kramer and its president Janet Yang.
“Walter was a true visionary, both as a producer and as an industry leader,” they said, noting that he had served for many years as President of the Academy and Governor of the Academy. His passion has never wavered and he has remained a dear friend and advisor.We send our love and support to his family during this difficult time.”
Milish won an Academy Award for Best Picture for 1967’s “In the Heat of the Night,” and the company he and his brother run also produced the Oscar-winning “The Apartment” and “West Side Story.” .
Born eight years before the first Academy Awards ceremony, he was president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1973 to 1977 and won two prestigious Oscars in 1978 and 1983.
As a producer, Milish actively recruited top filmmakers such as Billy Wilder and Norman Jewison, giving them the freedom to make films as they saw fit.
“We gave these filmmakers what they needed,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1983. We need to know….we have effectively partnered with the directors. ”
His firm’s regular directors included Blake Edwards and John Sturges, as well as Wilder and Jewison. The company has also produced films by John Ford, John Huston, William Wyler, George Roy Hill and Hal Ashby.
Milish entered the film industry as a teenager, rising from usher to managerial position at a theater chain before working on 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 to emerge from the old studio system as television turned to film.
The Milishes had a string of hits from the 1950s through the 1970s. Crown Affair”, “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. This is Marilyn Monroe’s Wilder Her comedy co-starring Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as a cross-dressing musician fleeing a mob.
Mirisch was willing to take on unusual projects. A Harvard-trained business executive, he effectively oversaw aspects of the commerce, allowing filmmakers to focus on their films.
Crime novelist and screenwriter of two Milish films, 1974’s “Mr. , called him “one of the good guys.” “
Milish was also one of the few filmmakers to recognize Sidney Poitier’s 2002 Academy Award speech for receiving the prestigious Oscar for Lifetime Achievement.
“Those filmmakers kept telling the best of us all through their art.
The Milish brothers adjusted their management style from film to film depending on the level of directing they felt the director wanted or needed. In a 1972 interview with the magazine Films and Filming, Mirisch said that while some directors worked well as their own producers, others showed little interest outside of actual filmmaking. .
“We’ve worked with some great directors and producer-directors, and I have to say we’ve had very different relationships with each of them.
A team for most of their careers, the Milish brothers also worked in theater. Before he joined the Allied Artists production company in the 1940s, Walter worked as a producer and later as production manager, while Harold and Marvin held management positions.
While at Allied, Walter produced westerns and a series of low-budget titles in the “Bomba the Jungle Boy” series starring Johnny Sheffield, who played the boy in the 1940s “Tarzan” films.
After Harold’s death in 1968, the surviving brothers continued the company, with Marvin as chairman and the youngest brother, Walter, in charge of production. Marvin passed away in 2002.
Walter Milish continued to make feature films into the 1980s. Although the quality and commercial success of his films generally declined, he still had some hits, including an Oscar nomination and his Golden Globe Award for “Same Time Next Year.” Other films that came later in his career included ‘Midway’, ‘Gray Lady Down’ and the 1979 version of ‘Dracula’. He also served as an executive producer on several television projects in the 1990s.
Walter Mortimer Milish was born on 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 bachelor’s degree in business from Harvard University in 1943.
In 1947, Milish married the late Patricia Kahan. They had three children, Anne, Andrew, and Lawrence.
Instead of flowers, the family asked for donations to the Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF).
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Former Associated Press writer David Jermaine contributed biographical information to this report from Los Angeles.