Jack Gordon, the longtime president of international distribution at MGM, has retired after 44 years with the company — a term that has spanned much of the studio’s venerable but tumultuous history.

During his tenure Gordon has been eyewitness to one of MGM’s golden eras, when the studio made such memorable films as “Ben Hur” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” as well as tougher times when it was feared the studio’s trademark lion might never again roar.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs at MGM, but we’ve always fought and battled through them,” said Gordon. “But I remember the successes better than the failures.”

Gordon joined MGM in 1953 as a temporary employee in the 16mm department, just a few months after returning home from Army service in the Korean War. He has since worked under one MGM regime after another, from the reign of Nicholas Schenck — Gordon’s first studio head — to Alan Ladd Jr. and current chairman Frank Mancuso.

For the past two years, Gordon has worked as special consultant to Mancuso.

“Jack’s four decades of distinguished service and unparalleled dedication clearly have served as an inspiration to this company,” said Mancuso. “His immeasurable contributions have been instrumental to the growth and success of MGM.”

Gordon was involved in many of the most important innovations in the movie business, spearheading the studio’s entries into pay TV and later the homevideo revolution.

Gordon joined the studio’s international distribution department in the mid-1950s. By 1972, he had risen to become VP of administrative affairs for MGM Intl., and seven years later was named exec VP. After the MGM merger with United Artists, Gordon became senior VP of international distribution, and within two years was named president of the division.

Gordon said he will miss the business and working with his colleagues around the world.

“(MGM) had a great past and it’s going to have an even more important future,” said Gordon. “And I’ll be watching.”

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