Warren Miller (October 15, 1924 – January 24, 2018) was an American ski and snowboarding filmmaker. He was the founder of Warren Miller Entertainment and produced, directed and narrated his films until 1988. His credits included over 750 sports films, several books and hundreds of published non-fiction stories. His annual films on skiing and other outdoor sports are known for their photography, narrative humor, and broad appeal. He was noted for the promotion of skiing through his films spanning over 60 years and is an iconic figure in ski-movie filmmaking.
Warren Anthony Miller was born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, to parents Helena Humphrey Miller and Albert Lincoln Miller. He was the youngest of three children and had two sisters, Mary Helen Miller and Betty Jane “BJ” Miller.
As a young man he took up the hobbies of skiing, surfing, and photography. At the age of 18, with the U.S. ten months into World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the South Pacific. On Christmas vacation in 1944 he first filmed skiing with a borrowed camera in Yosemite. Upon his discharge from the Navy in 1946, he bought his first 8mm movie camera. He and a friend, Ward Baker, moved to Sun Valley, Idaho where they camped in the parking lot of the Sun Valley ski resort, lived in a teardrop trailer and earned money as ski instructors. In their free time, they filmed each other skiing to critique and improve their ski techniques. During the summers they shifted to the California coast where they filmed each other surfing.
Warren Miller Entertainment
Warren Miller would often show his skiing and surfing films to friends, making jokes about their exploits throughout the showing of the film. When he began to receive invitations to show and narrate his films at parties, it occurred to him that he could turn this hobby into a business. In 1949, Miller founded Warren Miller Entertainment [WME] and began a long-standing tradition of producing one feature-length ski film per year. He rented out halls and theaters, usually with borrowed money, and charged admission to his shows. He booked show halls near ski resorts so that he could film the next year’s footage during the day, and show the current film in the evening. Before long he was showing his films in 130 cities a year.
Miller continued to head WME both creatively and managerially until the late 1980s when he sold the company to his son, Kurt Miller. Kurt later sold the company to Time, Inc., which sold it in 2007 to Bonnier Corporation, which was itself acquired by Active Interest Media in 2013. The company still produces a new film every year, but Miller himself has not been actively involved since 2004.
While transitioning out of his executive role, Miller still maintained his creative role as director and narrator for the films into the 1990s, but Miller has distanced himself from production in recent years. The makers of recent films such as, Warren Miller’s Higher Ground (2005) and Warren Miller’s Off the Grid (2006), opted to use Miller’s narration from previous films rather than recording new narration.
Recent films have been criticized as a departure from the traditional Warren Miller films. Miller himself has indicated that he is not content with recent productions, and has been actively discouraged from involvement in the films bearing his name. “I have not been involved with my old company’s films in any capacity for many years now, and I will not work with WME again.”
In late 2010, Miller announced the re-launch of the Warren Miller Company, an organization representing his professional and philanthropic interests established nearly two decades ago. He made a return to stage, presenting ‘An Evening with Warren Miller’ to two sold-out audiences at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.
Warren Miller and his wife of 30 years, Laurie, lived on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands north of Seattle, Washington, and enjoyed cruising on his 47′ Bayliner Yacht. He was an active writer. He announced plans to publish a book about life in retirement called What Are You Doing with the Rest of Your Life?
In September 2016, Warren published his autobiography, Freedom Found: My Life Story. The book was published by the Warren Miller Company. Author Andy Bigford, former editor-in-chief and publisher of Ski Magazine, co-authored the book, and Warren’s wife Laurie contributed as well. After a sold out first printing, a second printing is due for fall 2017.
Miller died on January 24, 2018, in Orcas Island.
|1||1950||Deep And Light|
|5||1954||Symphony On Skis|
|6||1955||Invitation To Skiing|
|7||1956||Have Skis, Will Travel|
|8||1957||Anyone For Skiing?|
|9||1958||Are Your Skis On Straight?|
|10||1959||Let’s Go Skiing|
|12||1961||Many Moods Of Skiing|
|13||1962||Around The World On Skis|
|14||1963||The Sound Of Skiing|
|16||1965||The Big Ski Show|
|17||1966||Ski On The Wild Side|
|18||1967||The Ski Scene|
|20||1969||This Is Skiing|
|21||1970||Sound Of Winter|
|22||1971||Any Snow, Any Mountain|
|25||1974||The Color Of Skiing|
|26||1975||There Comes A Time|
|27||1976||Skiing On My Mind|
|28||1977||In Search Of Skiing|
|29||1978||Ski A La Carte|
|32||1981||Ski In The Sun|
|36||1985||Steep And Deep|
|37||1986||Beyond The Edge|
|38||1987||White Winter Heat|
|39||1988||Escape To Ski|
|42||1991||Born To Ski|
|43||1992||Steeper And Deeper|
|44||1993||Black Diamond Rush|
Movies released since 2004, while bearing Warren Miller’s name, were not directed by Warren Miller, nor was he involved in their production in any way. See the complete list for all films bearing Warren Miller’s name.
- On Film in Print (1994) Vail, CO: Ritem and Printem ISBN 978-0963614414
- Lurching from One Near Disaster to the Next (1998) Deer Harbor, WA: Pole Pass Pub. ISBN 978-0963614421
- Wine, Women, Warren, & Skis, (2001) Warren Miller Productions; 14th edition; ISBN 978-0963614407
- Warren’s World, (2002) Mountain Sports Press, ISBN 978-0967674780
- “The Good New Days” Ski (Jan 2004) Vol 68 #5:152
- “A Taste of Freedom” The Ski Journal (2010) vol 4.2 ISSN 1935-3219
- Bigford, Andy and Miller, Warren (2016) Freedom Found: My Life Story Warren Miller Company ISBN 9780963614469