in , ,
- Advertisment -

Oscar-winning Producer Walter Mirisch of ‘In the Heat of the Night’ Fame Passes Away at Age 101

Oscar-winning Producer Walter Mirisch of ‘In the Heat of the Night’ Fame Passes Away at Age 101

The legendary producer Walter Mirisch passed away on Friday in Los Angeles at age 101. He served as president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for four terms from 1973-77. He reportedly died of natural causes.

Walter Mirisch
Walter Mirisch passes away at 101

Mirisch is also known as the sole recipient of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Irving G. Thalberg Award. He also earned an Oscar for the movie In the Heat of the Night (1967).

RELATED: Gregory Allen Howard, Writer Behind ‘Harriet’ and ‘Remember the Titans’ Has Passed Away

Walter Mirisch Left A Great Legacy In The World Of Filmmaking

Walter Mirisch’s passing was greatly mourned and it left a dent in the filmmaking industry. Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang commemorated the producer in a joint statement (via THR):

Walter was a true visionary, both as a producer and as 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 remained a dear friend and adviser.”

Mirisch established his production firm known as The Mirisch Co., which produced two award-winning titles: Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960) and Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story (1961).

Walter Mirisch
Walter Mirisch

The producer founded The Mirisch Co. in 1957 with his brothers, Marvin and Harold. The firm became a massive success, producing some of the best award-winning films in the industry, and in just two decades, collected 28 Oscars.

In the Heat of the Night actor Sidney Poitier described Mirisch in the producer’s 2008 book, I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History, as a “legendary producer, visionary filmmaker, courageous seeker of truth, especially in troubling times.”

Mirisch was born on Nov. 8, 1921, in New York City. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin. The late producer hoped to enter the entertainment industry, although, at the time, there was no school catering to it. He attended Harvard to study business instead. His first job in showbiz was in a theater.

RELATED: Comedian and Iconic Star of ‘Law and Order’ Richard Belzer Passes Away at 78

Friends Reminisce Renowned Producer’s Impact On Their Careers And Personal Lives

Walter Mirisch
Walter Mirisch

Fellow filmmakers and producers spoke about Mirisch and his unwavering kindness and generosity. Renowned director Steven Spielberg said in a statement:

I cherished our lunches in the Universal commissary over the years, and he was as generous with his advice as he was with his friendship. I’m both a better director and a better person for having known Walter.”

The late Tom Sherak also revealed in a 2012 interview with THR how Mirisch helped him with a business contract with Kodak Theatre (now known as the Dolby Theatre):

It was Walter Mirisch who looked at me and said: ‘Tom, listen to me. It’s the Academy Awards. You’ll find a place to go. Renegotiate, Tom. Trust me.’ And that’s when I went to exercise our right to renegotiate. Then right away we started getting offers.”

Mirisch’s other notable works include serving three terms as president of the Producers Guild of America. He also received David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. The visionary also held important positions at Los Angeles Music Center, the Motion Picture & Television Fund, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Walter Mirisch is survived by his three children, Anne, Andrew, and Lawrence. His wife, Patricia, passed away in 2005.

Source: THR

RELATED: Popular Child Actor Lance Kerwin, Who Shot to Fame as the Star of NBC’s ‘James at 15’, Passed Away at 62

Written by Ariane Cruz

Content writer at FandomWire.