Veteran exec was in charge of film services, library

Milford “Mel” Rydell, who worked in film services at MGM, died Nov. 17 in Torrance, Calif., of congestive heart failure. He was 86.

As senior exec VP of film services at MGM, Rydell was responsible for the logistics of getting film prints around the world. He also was in charge of the Lion’s library during the end of his career when it was acquired by Turner.

Rydell joined the Navy in 1945 rising to lieutenant commander and spent 20 years in the reserves. In the mid-50s he started at RKO as page boy jumping to Disney, where he worked in the mailroom until he caught the eye of a senior exec who promoted him.

The Navy had sent him to business school so armed with an MBA, rare for those days, Rydell was charged with film services at Disney. Under his watch the studio, which shot all its pics in California but did distribution in New York, moved the logistics division to the Left Coast although he himself stayed in the East.

“He saved the studios a ton of money by moving the film services to California,” said his son Lindsay Rydell.

Rydell then moved to MGM, where he reported to Roger Mayer. At the Lion he arranged the same move for film services from the East Coast to California in 1970 and this time moved West with his family.

Rydell later took charge of MGM’s vault and when Turner bought it up in the early 1990s the exec went to work for Turner. He retired in 1993 although he continued to consult for them for a few years.

Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Harriett; son Lindsay, a former MGM exec; a daughter; three grandsons and a granddaughter.

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