Since 1950, when he debuted Deep and Light — the first film in what would become an annual ritual for fans of skiing and board sports — Warren Miller’s name has been synonymous with action sports videos. Now 91, Miller has weathered near-death experiences, winters living out of his trailer, family embezzlers, and many more misadventures. In exchange, as he often says, he found the freedom of constant thrills. Freedom Found: My Life Story takes readers from Miller’s broken California childhood to the Matterhorn and beyond, always with his trusty Arriflex in hand. Here are 10 things we learned from Miller’s new autobiography.
- His ne’er-do-well father struggled for years to make it as a radio sitcom character called “Cy Toosie.”
- His maternal grandfather and a great-uncle were inventors who designed an escape box for Houdini, the monster mask for the original “Frankenstein” movie, and a dental tool still in use today.
- He made the University of Southern California varsity basketball team as a walk-on.
- He led the evacuation of his WWII Navy crew when their sub-chaser sank in a typhoon.
- The ad-libbed narration he is so famous for was inspired by Groucho Marx.
- He helped popularize the look of skiing as a model for Jantzen sportswear, alongside pro athletes such as Frank Gifford and Bob Cousy. The advertising man who recruited him was Homer Groening, whose son, Matt, created The Simpsons.
- He once faced a bodyguard’s gun as he filmed the Yugoslavian dictator Tito. Years later, he got Benjamin Netanyahu back on the slopes after performing impromptu chiropractic therapy on him.
- He claims he was the first to take surfboard pioneer Hobie Alter on a catamaran, which led to the invention of the Hobie Cat.
- In Sun Valley, he watched Bobby Kennedy get turned away from the lodge dining room for dressing without a necktie. The senator came back wearing a tie — but barefoot.
- In Vail, while skiing with presidential candidate Jack Kemp and two former astronauts, Alan Shepard and Scott Carpenter, a lift operator asked them to take a picture of him with the great Warren Miller.
- Notable quote: “No one is ever too old to do something really dumb.”
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