Eight Bells: Warren Miller

Published on January 30th, 2018

Warren A. Miller, the iconic and beloved filmmaker who introduced generations to the thrills and freedom of skiing and outdoor adventures, passed away at the age of 93 on Wednesday evening, January 24th. He died peacefully of natural causes at his home on Orcas Island, WA.

Miller earned global acclaim and a passionate, multi-generational following for his annual ski feature films, which kicked off the ski season for more than 60 years, showing in hundreds of cities across the U.S. and around the world. Packed with adventure and exotic travel, Miller’s distinct, droll narration and humorous hijinks on the slopes highlighted his films.

Beyond his ski films, there are legions of sailing enthusiasts that knew Miller for how his films captured their sport. A sailor himself, Miller was active in the P-Cat, J/24 and Tornado with his son Kurt. Their highlight was finished third in the 1981 J/24 Worlds in Sydney Australia.

“Nothing got my dad more excited than having our boat well prepared, sailing out to the start line, and the excitement of racing around the buoys with friends,” remarked Kurt.

Miller used his template of blending action, adventure, youth, light hearted moments and his engaging dialogue to entertain yacht club audiences and millions of television viewers. In all, there were over 20 sailing films including “Hot Yachts Cold Water”, “High Performance Sailing” and “Gold Medal Sailors”.

Many iconic manufactures used the Warren Miller films to launch their brands including Windsurfer, J/24, Hobie 33, and Laser. Overall, Miller produced more than 500 films that primarily covered outdoor pursuits. As an artist, cartoonist, and author, he wrote some 1,200 columns and 11 books.

In retirement, he turned to destination motor boating in his 70s and 80s, exploring the Northwest and Alaska from his home on Orcas Island. During his 80s and 90s, Miller’s philanthropic efforts provided entrepreneurial training to thousands of youth nationwide, emphasizing hard work, ingenuity, and creativity.

Perhaps one of his most cited quotes provides some insight as to how Miller packed so much into one lifetime: “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”

Miller is survived by his wife Laurie; by his sons Scott (Melissa) and Kurt (Ali); by his daughter, Chris (David Lucero); and by his stepson, Colin Kaufmann; three granddaughters (Valeska, Kasimira, and Jenna) and two grandsons (Alexander and Ryan).

A detailed look at Warren’s incredible life is available at www.warrenmiller.org.

While the sailing films are locked in the vault, here are two clips posted on the YouTube channel from Warren Miller Entertainment.

 

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