Arthur Canton, an influential PR and marketing exec who was the father of producers Neil and Mark Canton, died June 3 in Los Angeles following a brief illness. He was 88.
Canton worked on campaigns for films such as “On the Waterfront,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Bridge on the River Kwai.” Among his clients were Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman and Elia Kazan.
Born in New York, he left NYU to become an officer in the Army Air Corps. His plane was shot down over Calais, France, and he was missing in action as a POW for 18 months before being liberated by the Russians. He received a medal from the French Government in ceremonies in Normandy commemorating D-Day’s 50th anniversary.
Following his discharge, Canton and his brother-in-law, Sanford Weiner, formed Canton-Weiner Films and produced the 1949 Oscar winning short, “Van Gogh.”
In the early 1950s he joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s PR department, where he oversaw the studio’s marketing activities for the eastern portion of the United States and all of Canada.
He then joined forces with Bill Blowitz to form the Canton & Blowitz PR and marketing agency in New York and Los Angeles, which worked on campaigns for films including “Suddenly, Last Summer,” “Splendor in the Grass” and “Streetcar Named Desire.” The firm also handled the media coverage of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.
He joined Columbia as a sernior marketing exec in New York in 1971, and later had a production deal at Warner Bros in Los Angeles.
Canton as a longtime member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where he served on the executive committee of the public relations branch.
He was predeceased by his wife Shirley. He is survived by his sons and five grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, at 11:00 a.m. at Hillside Memorial Park, 6001 W. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90045.
Donations be made in memory of Arthur H. Canton to the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation, 23388 Mulholland Dr., Woodland Hills, CA 91364.
— Pat Saperstein