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Don Mirisch, Business Affairs Exec Who Led MGM Animation, Dies at 67

Veteran business affairs executive Donald I. Mirisch, who senior executive positions at Fox Studios, Universal Studios, Embassy Home Entertainment, Hanna-Barbera Productions and MGM over the course of his career, died of brain cancer at his home on July 26. He was 67.

At MGM, where he served as executive vice president of MGM Animation, Mirisch re-established the storied animation unit that had been shuttered after the departure of Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna in the late ’50s. Taking charge of all production and operations of the revitalized division, he exec produced “All Dogs Go to Heaven 2,” “The Pebble and the Penguin,” “James Bond, Jr.,” “The Pink Panther” and “Babes in Toyland.”

Prior to leading MGM Animation, he was senior VP of MGM’s Entertainment Business Group, overseeing corporate business affairs, including feature and television production, acquisition and distribution, music, merchandising and licensing.

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 Co., which became one of Hollywood’s most successful independent production companies. Throughout his childhood, Don Mirisch was fascinated by the entertainment industry.

Mirisch graduated cum laude from Brandeis University and continued on to Harvard Law School. He began his professional career at law firm Kaplan & Kaplan. He worked for the General Accounting Office in Washington, D.C., but returned in 1978 to Los Angeles, where he began his career in Hollywood business affairs working for Fox Studios.

Recently he had been working at Foxfield Entertainment, an independent production company he co-founded with producer Bruce Johnson.

Mirisch was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and he served on the board of directors of the New West Symphony and of Jewish Family Services.

He is survived by his wife, Roberta; daughter Niki and son Marc; siblings Lynn Rogo and Carol Hartmann; and three grandchildren.

Memorial donations may 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.

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