Film veteran was one of ShowEast founders

Exhibitor Ralph E. Donnelly died Sept. 21 in Palm Harbor, Fla. He was 75.

Donnelly was a pioneer of specialized exhibition, and established the First Avenue Screening Room in Manhattan and the Mini Cinema in Uniondale, New York. He was a founder of the annual ShowEast convention.

Starting in his teens as an usher, he ultimately became president of Cinema 5 Theaters in Manhattan. He was also head film buyer at City Cinemas, RKO-Stanley Warner Theaters, Creative Film Services and Associated Independent Theaters. A past president of the Variety Club and the Motion Picture Bookers Club, he was also a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and was on the board of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

After Donnelly retired, he served as a shipboard host on cruises, screening films and leading discussions of film lore.

He is survived by his wife, Gloria; a sister; three children and five grandchildren.

Donations may be made to Variety – The Children’s Charity.

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