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Marvin Mirisch, 84; Co-Founded Movie Production Firm

November 20, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Marvin Mirisch, the modest behind-the-scenes deal-maker of the three brothers who formed Mirisch Co. to independently produce such Academy Award-winning movies as "The Apartment," "West Side Story" and "In the Heat of the Night," has died. He was 84.

Mirisch died Sunday of undisclosed causes at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The production company, established in 1957, produced 68 motion pictures over 17 years in an arrangement partly negotiated by Marvin Mirisch with United Artists. Mirisch films were nominated for 79 Academy Awards and won 23.

After Harold Mirisch's death in 1968, Marvin and his better-known brother Walter moved to Universal Pictures, where their output included films such as "Midway" and "Same Time, Next Year."

Walter Mirisch was generally recognized as the producer and Marvin as the money man.

However, Marvin Mirisch also earned credit as executive producer of such films as "Dracula" in 1979 and "Romantic Comedy" in 1983. In the early 1990s, he was executive producer of the animated "Pink Panther" cartoon series.

Born in New York City, Marvin was the third of four Mirisch sons. After graduating from City College of New York in 1939, he joined the other three in Milwaukee. There he later worked with his brother Irving in Theatre Candy Co., selling popcorn and other refreshments to 800 movie theaters.

Marvin moved to Los Angeles in 1953, where Walter and Harold were working for Monogram Pictures.

As Monogram became Allied Artists, the brothers independently packaged such fare as John Huston's "Moby Dick" and helped produce Billy Wilder's "Love in the Afternoon" and William Wyler's "Friendly Persuasion."

Active in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Marvin Mirisch served as executive of its investment committees and was on the Board of Governors.

He also chaired the motion picture division of the United Jewish Welfare Fund, and was on the boards of Temple Israel and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Florene; his brother Walter; three children, Don Mirisch, Carol Hartmann and Lynn Rogo, all of Los Angeles; and six grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 1 p.m. today at Hillside Memorial Park. The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the UCLA Foundation, 10945 LeConte Ave., Suite 3132, Los Angeles, CA 90095.

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