Walter C. Miller at the 2010 Special Merit Awards
Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Remembering Longtime GRAMMY Awards Director Walter C. Miller
Today, we honor the life of Emmy-winning TV director/producer Walter C. Miller, who directed 15 GRAMMY Awards from 1984 to 2009. He also directed and/or produced many other awards shows—dating back to the '70s—including the CMA Awards, the Tonys, People's Choice Awards and the Latin GRAMMYs, as well as televised music and comedy specials for Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Bob Hope and others. The beloved behind-the-scenes force died at 94 years old on Fri., Nov. 13, surrounded by his family.
"Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Walter Miller during this difficult time. He was a powerhouse in the television business and helped to shape the GRAMMY Awards as we know it. In 2010, we had the privilege of honoring Walter with the Trustees Award. He will be greatly missed," Chair and Interim Recording Academy President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said in a statement.
In addition to the Recording Academy's Trustees Award, Miller earned many accolades for his visionary work behind the scenes at televised awards shows, including the CMA President's Award in 2007 and the CMA Irving Waugh Award in 2009. He earned 19 Primetime Emmy nominations and won five of them, including four wins for his work with the Tony Awards. Additionally, he won three Directors Guild of America awards and, in 1993, won a CableACE Award for his work on the "Comic Relief" specials.
"Walter was clearly the most unforgettable character I've ever met in a working capacity, and one of my closest friends outside the business," Ken Ehrlich, the longtime GRAMMYs executive producer who received his own Trustees Award this year after his final show, told Variety. "He left an indelible mark on pretty much everyone he worked with, and as they say, they just don't make 'em like Walter anymore."
"In the award show/live event genre, there really aren't superstar director names like [Steven] Spielberg, [Quentin] Tarantino, [Francis Ford] Coppola or others. It just doesn't work like that, with the exception of my friend, Walter C. Miller," Ehrlich added in a heartfelt tribute to his friend and collaborator.
"He was not only one of a handful of directors—Dwight Hemion and Marty Pasetta also come to mind—who wrote the book about multi-camera coverage of live events, an art form and mathematical logistics nightmare all its own. He also became the first man in the chair to have spread those talents across both country and pop music, directing and ultimately producing both the CMA Awards and the GRAMMYs as well as the Tonys, the Emmys, Comic Relief and dozens of other live events whose degree of difficulty left numerous other directors sitting in puddles beneath their chairs."
"Walter was an absolute television legend," CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern said in a statement. "When you worked with him, you instantly knew you were in the presence of greatness. He brought so much innovation and brilliance to the CMA Awards over the 40 years he worked with the organization."
"Walter Miller was my friend and mentor. Everything I know about producing great television I learned from Walter Miller. Walter had a long list of accomplishments and credits and working with the biggest names in entertainment," CMA Awards Executive Producer Robert Deaton added. "He loved our artists, and in return we counted Walter as one of our own. Today we say thank you. You will be missed and rest in peace dear friend."