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Donald I. Mirisch

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Veteran Hollywood business affairs executive Donald I. Mirisch, age 67, died of brain cancer surrounded by his family on July 26, 2014 at his home. During his distinguished career, Mr. Mirisch held senior executive positions at Fox Studios, Universal Studios, Embassy Home Entertainment, Hanna-Barbera Productions and MGM, including serving as Executive Vice President of MGM Animation. At MGM, Mr. Mirisch re-established the storied animation unit that had been shuttered after the departure of Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna in the late 50's. Taking charge of all production and operations of the revitalized division, he executive produced All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, The Pebble and the Penguin, James Bond, Jr., The Pink Panther, and Babes in Toyland. Prior to helming MGM Animation, he was Senior Vice President of MGM's Entertainment Business Group, with responsibility for corporate business affairs, including feature and television production, acquisition and distribution, music, merchandising and licensing. "Don made things happen. He put his faith and trust in you - in an industry where faith and trust aren't exactly common commodities" says Kelly Ward, longtime colleague and animation team member. Don Mirisch was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and moved with his family to Beverly Hills in 1953. His father, Marvin, along with two brothers, Harold and Walter, formed The Mirisch Company, which became one of Hollywood's most successful independent production companies. Throughout his childhood, Mr. Mirisch was fascinated by the entertainment industry. Don Mirisch graduated cum laude from Brandeis University and continued on to Harvard Law School. He began his professional career at the law firm of Kaplan & Kaplan. Wanting to return to the East Coast, he worked for the GAO in Washington, D.C. During this time, he met his wife, Roberta at a wedding where he was the best man and she was the maid of honor. They were married in 1975 and had two children, Niki and Marc. In 1978, the young family moved to Los Angeles, where Mr. Mirisch began his Hollywood business affairs career working for Fox Studios. Mr. Mirisch was known for his honesty and his professional integrity. He was considered quiet but innovative, gentle but persuasive. All who worked with him felt that he was a man to rely on and trust. Recently he had been working at Foxfield Entertainment, an independent production company he co-founded with producer Bruce Johnson. "Don Mirisch was an extraordinary man - highly intelligent and brilliantly skilled in so many ways. He was ethical with strong moral principles which made him respected and admired by all who knew him," said Johnson. "He brought to his work all of those skills along with tremendous knowledge of and love for the entertainment business. He will be deeply missed and warmly remembered." Don Mirisch was a flying enthusiast, pilot and certified flight instructor. He served on The New West Symphony Board of Directors, Jewish Family Service Board of Directors, and was a distinguished Member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Most importantly, he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his wife, Roberta, of Westlake Village, daughter, Niki, of Woodland Hills, and son Marc and his wife Wendy, of Thousand Oaks. In addition to his wife and children, Don is survived by his siblings, Lynn Rogo of Beverly Hills and Carol Hartmann of San Diego. He has three surviving grandchildren, Marissa, Norah and Benjamin, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. A private service was held at his home, on July 29th in Westlake Village. The family asks that memorial donations be sent to: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Attn: Paola Werstler, 8700 Beverly Blvd., Suite 2416, Los Angeles, CA 90048. Please add "Dr. Jethro Hu's research" to the memo line.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3, 2014
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