Warren Anthony Miller was born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, to parents Helena Humphrey Miller and Albert Lincoln Miller. He was the youngest of three children and had two sisters, Mary Helen Miller and Betty Jane "BJ" Miller.
As a young man he took up the hobbies of skiing, surfing, and photography. At the age of 18, with the U.S. ten months into World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the South Pacific. On Christmas vacation in 1944 he first filmed skiing with a borrowed camera in Yosemite. Upon his discharge from the Navy in 1946, he bought his first 8mm movie camera. He and a friend, Ward Baker, moved to Sun Valley, Idaho where they camped in the parking lot of the Sun Valley ski resort, lived in a teardrop trailer and earned money as ski instructors. In their free time, they filmed each other skiing to critique and improve their ski techniques. During the summers they shifted to the California coast where they filmed each other surfing.
Warren Miller would often show his skiing and surfing films to friends, making jokes about their exploits throughout the showing of the film. When he began to receive invitations to show and narrate his films at parties, it occurred to him that he could turn this hobby into a business. In 1949, Miller founded Warren Miller Entertainment [WME] and began a long-standing tradition of producing one feature-length ski film per year. He rented out halls and theaters, usually with borrowed money, and charged admission to his shows. He booked show halls near ski resorts so that he could film the next year's footage during the day, and show the current film in the evening. Before long he was showing his films in 130 cities a year.
Miller continued to head WME both creatively and managerially until the late 1980s when he sold the company to his son, Kurt Miller. Kurt later sold the company to Time, Inc., which sold it in 2007 to Bonnier Corporation, which was itself acquired by Active Interest Media in 2013. The company still produces a new film every year, but Miller himself has not been actively involved since 2004.
While transitioning out of his executive role, Miller still maintained his creative role as director and narrator for the films into the 1990s, but Miller has distanced himself from production in recent years. The makers of recent films such as, Warren Miller's Higher Ground (2005) and Warren Miller's Off the Grid (2006), opted to use Miller's narration from previous films rather than recording new narration.
Recent films have been criticized as a departure from the traditional Warren Miller films. Miller himself has indicated that he is not content with recent productions, and has been actively discouraged from involvement in the films bearing his name. "I have not been involved with my old company's films in any capacity for many years now, and I will not work with WME again."
In late 2010, Miller announced the re-launch of the Warren Miller Company, an organization representing his professional and philanthropic interests established nearly two decades ago. He made a return to stage, presenting 'An Evening with Warren Miller' to two sold-out audiences at Seattle's Benaroya Hall.
Warren Miller currently resides with his current wife of 30 years, Laurie, on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands north of Seattle, Washington, and enjoys cruising on his 47' Bayliner Yacht. He is officially retired from film-making but remains an active writer. He has announced plans to publish a book about life in retirement called What Are You Doing with the Rest of Your Life?
In September 2016, Warren published his autobiography, Freedom Found: My Life Story. The book was published by the Warren Miller Company. Author Andy Bigford, former editor-in-chief and publisher of Ski Magazine, co-authored the book, and Warren's wife Laurie contributed as well. After a sold out first printing, a second printing is due for fall 2017.
Movies released since 2004, while bearing Warren Miller's name, were not directed by Warren Miller, nor was he involved in their production in any way. See the complete list for all films bearing Warren Miller's name.