Walter C. Miller, a former Country Music Association Awards producer, died on Friday evening, CMA confirmed to Variety. He was 94.
“Walter was an absolute television legend,” said CMA chief executive officer Sarah Trahern 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.”
Miller served at the helm of music-related live programming, producing and directing the Grammy Awards, People’s Choice Awards and Emmy Awards, among others. During his illustrious career, Miller was nominated for 19 Emmy Awards, taking home five trophies between 1972 and 1999 — four of them from directing the Tony Awards.
Born Walter Corwin Miller in 1926, the longtime entertainment professional broke into the industry as a lighting director for the NBC variety series “The Horn and Hardart Children’s Hour,” and moved on to direct TV programs “Startime,” “The Bell Telephone Hour” and “Sing Along With Mitch.” He also helmed live events including the “New Orleans Jazz Festival 1969,” “Johnny Cash and Friends” and “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
In 1967, Miller made his breakthrough in the music programming scene as the co-director of “The Belle of 14th Street,” a Barbra Streisand special on CBS, for which he worked with musicians including Johnny Cash, Dick Clark, Al Green, Frank Sinatra, Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder.
For his contribution to the CMA Awards, Miller was awarded the CMA President’s Award in 2007, and in 2009, he was bestowed with the CMA Irving Waugh Award to celebrate his service to the organization. Miller became the fifth recipient of the award, following Waugh, Frances Preston, Jo Walker-Meador and Cash.
“Walter Miller was my friend and mentor,” said CMA Awards executive producer Robert Deaton. “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. However, I know that working in Nashville and with the CMA Awards was closest to his heart. 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.”
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