American producer Walter Mirisch learned the film business from the true business end; he was trained to be a movie-theatre manager by a large film exhibition chain. After World War 2, Mirisch entered production with the low-budget Bomba the Jungle Boy series for Monogram. Threadbare but profitable, the Bomba's enabled Mirisch to attain a more prestigious post as executive producer of Monogram's A-division, Allied Artists. In 1957, he formed the Mirisch Corporation with siblings Harold and Marvin Mirisch. After getting its feet wet with medium-scale westerns, the Mirisch company aligned itself with United Artists. By agreeing to give such directors as Billy Wilder, Robert Wise and John Sturges the artistic freedom denied them by the major studios, the Mirisches were able to turn out a string of moneymakers, including Some Like It Hot (1959), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), and the Oscar winners The Apartment (1960), West Side Story (1961) and In the Heat of the Night (1967). In addition to collecting numerous Oscar statuettes, Walter Mirisch was also president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1973 through 1978.
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