SHS Alumna David Mirisch '53: Golden Touch

As one of Hollywood’s most influential promoters, David Mirisch, SHS ’53, helped boost the careers of household-name actors like Barbara Eden, Leonard Nemoy, and Lynda Carter. He represented Billboard chart toppers including Pat Boone, Johnny Mathis and The Supremes. His family film company produced multiple Academy Award-winning classics including Some Like it Hot and In the Heat of the Night
Mirisch is even credited with having discovered  Farrah Faucett, immortalized forever as Jill from  the 1970s hit TV series Charlie’s Angels.
david mAt the height of his success in Hollywood, Mirisch was known as “The Man with the Gold Rolodex.” But looking back on his life, Mirisch  says it’s his philanthropic endeavors of which  he is most proud. 
“You cannot name a disease that I have not helped,” Mirisch says. It’s far from hyperbole: Throughout his life, Mirisch organized more than 2,500 fundraising events to help fight illnesses like pancreatic cancer, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and ALS. The events included dinners, auctions, national and international celebrity golf tournaments, casino nights and more, all attracting influential and well- resourced people to gather and contribute on behalf of a good cause. Mirisch also leveraged his vast network to convene friends and acquaintanc-es to help establish the Los Angeles chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

All told, his company, David Mirisch Enterprises, has raised over $35,000,000 for charities across the globe.
Mirisch, now 87 and living inJaco, Costa Rica with his wife, Sandy, recalls his time at Shorewood High School fondly. “I was on the tennis team, I had a nice group of friends,” he says. “I was also the No. 1 bowler at Shorewood High School all through  my years (there).”

Mirisch covered high school sports for the Milwaukee Journal and says he even did some modeling for the  newspaper. He went on to major in speech at Ripon College, then returned to Milwaukee for a time to work for his family’s business, a supplier of movie theater refreshments across Wisconsin. Eventually, he moved to California to work for a film production company started by his uncles. “I traveled all over the U.S. learning the public relations business,” he says, before settling down in Hollywood and opening an advertising and public relations agency that eventually represented more than 500 people.
david mWhen asked about the secret to his success, Mirisch credits having a notepad at the ready to capture ideas as they pop into his head, as well as to remember things and stay organized. “I am a very thorough person and I write down everything,” he says, and he tells anyone he is mentoring to do the same.
Mirisch’s remarkable career and philanthropy caught the attention of Brazilian producer and director Marcela Mariz, who asked if she could make a documentary chronicling his career and dedication to charitable and human-itarian causes. The result is The Man Behind the Golden Stars, a 2021 film that has been featured at multiple festivals, but isn’t a commercial production. 
“I did it mainly as a legacy to leave,” Mirisch says, “for my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren.”
Shortly after the release of this article, the District learned that David Mirisch had passed. To learn more about the documentary, visit