Press release for I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History, text reader friendly

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1930 Monroe Street, 3rd Floor, Madison, Wisconsin 53711-2059



Contact: Chris Caldwell, Publicity Manager Ph (608) 263-0734, Fax (608) 263-1132


 “Legendary producer, visionary filmmaker, courageous seeker of truth, especially in troubling times.”—Sidney Poitier, from the foreword

I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History

by Walter Mirisch

Forewords by Sidney Poitier and Elmore Leonard

Publication Date: March 3, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-299-22640-4, Cloth, $29.95

408 pages






“Walter Mirisch’s love of movies led him to make some of the best films that the industry has produced. Whether as producer or as an executive of one of the best production companies in town, he has seen it all and now can tell it all to you from his own fiercely independent perspective.”
Steven Spielberg

   This is a moving, star-filled account of one of Hollywood’s true golden ages as told by a man in the middle of it all. Walter Mirisch’s company has produced some of the most entertaining and enduring classics in film history, including West Side Story, Some Like It Hot, In the Heat of the Night, and The Magnificent Seven. His work has led to 87 Academy Award nominations and 28 Oscars. Richly illustrated with rare photographs from his personal collection, I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History reveals Mirisch’s own experience of Hollywood and tells the stories of the stars—emerging and established—who appeared in his films, including Natalie Wood, John Wayne, Peter Sellers, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Sidney Poitier, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, and many others.

With hard-won insight and gentle humor, Mirisch recounts how he witnessed the end of the studio system, the development of independent production, and the rise and fall of some of Hollywood’s most gifted (and notorious) cultural icons. A producer with a passion for creative excellence, he offers insights into his innovative filmmaking process, revealing a rare ingenuity for placating the demands of auteur directors, weak-kneed studio executives, and troubled screen sirens.

From his early start as a movie theater usher to the presentation of such masterpieces as The Apartment, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Great Escape, Mirisch tells the inspiring life story of his climb to the highest echelon of the American film industry. This book assures Mirisch’s legacy—as Elmore Leonard puts it—as “one of the good guys.”

Produced by the Mirisch Company :

Some Like It Hot
West Side Story
In the Heat of the Night
The Great Escape
The Magnificent Seven
The Apartment
The Pink Panther
Fiddler on the Roof
The Horse Soldiers
One, Two, Three
Man of the West
The Children’s Hour
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming
Toys in the Attic
Two for the Seesaw
The Thomas Crown Affair
How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying
Same Time, Next Year
The Landlord
Mr. Majestyk
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Organization
The Party
A Shot in the Dark
Irma La Douce

Walter Mirisch is the producer, in whole or in part, of more than one hundred films. Among the Mirisch Company’s honors are three Oscars for best picture—The Apartment (1960), West Side Story (1961), and In the Heat of the Night (1967). Mirisch has also received two honorary Academy Awards, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (1977) and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (1983); and has been honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award (1977) presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures (1995) presented by the Producers Guild of America. He has been decorated by the Republic of France with its Order of Arts and Letters, has received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and is a recipient of the UCLA Medal, that university’s highest award. Mirisch served three terms as president of the Producers Guild of America and four terms as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“Walter Mirisch has written the quintessential behind-the-scenes book on the glory days of Hollywood. If you ever wanted to know everything there was to know, this will surely be touted as a ‘bible’ of our industry—for Walter tells it as it really was, with the integrity for which he is known and loved. It is an engaging story; insightful and entertaining, poignant with personal anecdotes of his family with whom we shared so much of our professional and private lives. We can only marvel at how he has managed to live through these adventures, yet remain such a wonderfully loving, caring, good friend.”Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews

“From Bomba, the Jungle Boy to Some Like It Hot and In the Heat of the Night . . . [The Mirisch Company] produced many of the films which dazzled and inspired me (and I’m not kidding about Bomba. I loved those movies as a kid.) When I later acted in one of his (lesser) productions, The Spikes Gang, I learned that a prolific and brilliant producer could also be a terrific guy and a wonderful teacher. No surprise then that Walter has given us a wise and utterly engrossing look at his life . . . and extraordinary experiences in this film business.”Ron Howard

For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Chris Caldwell, Publicity Manager, at 608/263-0734 Ph; 608/263-1132 Fax; or We would appreciate receiving a copy of any notice that may appear. Please send tear sheets, noting name and location of publication and date of issue, to the Publicity Department at the University of Wisconsin Press.


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