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Walter Mirisch dies: Former Academy president, film producer was 101

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Walter Mirisch, former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and an Oscar-winning producer for “In the Heat of the Night,” died Feb. 24 of natural causes in Los Angeles. He was 101 years old.

A statement released by the Motion Picture Academy on Saturday confirmed Mirish’s death.

“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is deeply saddened to hear of Walter’s passing,” Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Young said in the statement. “Walter was a true visionary, both as a producer and an industry leader. He had a powerful impact on the film community and the Academy, serving as our President and as an Academy Governor for many years. His passion for filmmaking and the Academy never wavered. And he was a dear friend and mentor. We send our love and support to his family during this difficult time.”

By the mid-20th century, Mirisch was one of Hollywood’s most admired and powerful producers. In 1957, he founded The Irish Company with his brothers Harold and Marvin – the banner was associated with 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” (1968). Mirisch’s company was also the producer of three best films – “The Apartment” (1960), “West Side Story” (1961) and “In the Heat of the Night” (1967), for which Mirisch received an Academy Award. best picture

The Academy honored Mirisch twice more during his prolific career, which spanned more than six decades. In 1978, he Irving G. Received the Thalberg Memorial Award, commemorating his “consistently high quality of motion picture production”. In 1983, Mirisch was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his “humanitarian efforts [that] has brought success to the industry.”

Mirisch served four terms as Academy President from 1973 to 1977 and 15 years as Academy Governor. He was a key figure in the organization building a new headquarters in Beverly Hills.

Steven Spielberg has cited Mirisch as a valued friend and advisor over the years.

“Walter cut a towering figure in the film industry and his films spanned every genre and were classics that never failed to entertain audiences around the world,” Spielberg said in a statement. “He’s accomplished so much in life and in art β€” if you live to be 101 and make ‘The Apartment,’ I’d say it’s been a good run.”

Spielberg called him “a gentleman and an ardent supporter of good films” and noted that he supported “several generations of dedicated filmmakers”.

Moreover, “he knew a good story when he found one, and fought tooth and nail to bring it to the screen,” Spielberg said. β€œHe loved the Academy as much as we have in our history… I cherished our lunches at the Universal Commissary over the years and he was as generous with his advice as he was with his friendship. I am both a better director and a better person for knowing Walter.”

Born in New York in 1921, Mirisch worked for a bomber manufacturer during World War II before studying at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Harvard Business School. He was married to his wife Patricia Mirisch for 60 years until her death in 2005.

Mirisch holds leadership roles at the Producers Guild of America, the Los Angeles Music Center, the Motion Picture and Television Fund, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and UCLA.

Miris has a daughter Annie; sons Andrew and Lawrence; one granddaughter and two great-grandsons. The family requests that donations be made in Mirish’s name to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

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