Ron Castell, Key to Blockbuster Video Growth, Dies at 75

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James Ronald “Ron” Castell, a veteran marketing and entertainment industry executive who was instrumental in the growth of Blockbuster Video and worked at Warner Communications and Spelling Entertainment, died Thursday afternoon in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He was 75 and had multiple system atrophy (MSA), a rare neurodegenerative disease.

Castell was a creative marketing force in radio and television broadcasting as well as cable TV, film and home entertainment. He was instrumental in Warner Communications’ expansion of cable television in urban markets across the U.S. in the 1970s and was a pioneer in the retail homevideo market in the 1980s.

In the banking sector, he developed the marketing plan that launched the first bank credit card in the late 1960s for what would become Visa.

Castell move to Ft. Lauderdale in 1989 and joined Blockbuster as senior VP for programming and served in the office of the president and the chief executive at Spelling Entertainment. Ron’s move to Blockbuster began a 23-year relationship with Wayne Huizenga. After the sale of Blockbuster, Castell served as senior VP of Huizenga Holdings.

Previously, Ron was a senior executive in the cable television division of Warner Communications (now Time Warner), a marketing and advertising vice president for the CBS radio and television affiliate WBNS in Columbus, Ohio, and he began his career in banking there at City National Bank.

Castell was chairman of the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival and the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council.

He is survived by his wife Barbara and their three children.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5, at First Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale.

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  1. Michelle Hartman says:

    I worked for Ron at Spelling Enterainment and he truly was a great mentor and friend. He wasn’t afraid to let his team take the ball and run. He liked people and always brought out the best in them. He was as comfortable with A list celebrities as he was with any other person and treated everyone with equal respect. If you met him, you would never forget him. Rest in peace, Ron. Love and Respect,

    • Michelle, Thank you for sharing such warm memories of my Father. I love your line: ‘He was as comfortable with A list celebrities as he was with any other person…’ That is my dad to a ‘T’. He was fun and smart, creative and respectful and a huge inspiration for me and many others. You’re so right, ‘If you met him, you would never forget him.’ Thanks again for your post. :)

  2. Jim Donahue says:

    Ron Castell was one of the finest people I’ve ever known. He was my mentor and a friend during my years with Republic Industries and later AutoNation in Fort Lauderdale. For years we would have breakfast every Monday at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas Blvd. He had the best stories, he knew everyone and everyone knew him. He’s the only person I’ve ever let call me “Jimmy” because it just sounded right in that radio voice of his. Ron’s door was always open wide and his heart was always open wider. And no matter how important he became–and he was all that–Ron always had a soft spot for the little guy, for the forgotten and for the overlooked. I learned a lot from him about that. A raconteur, a true man about town, a person impossible to forget, Ron was an old school gentleman, the likes of which they just don’t make anymore. Although we lost touch over the years, I thought of Ron often and will miss knowing that he’s in this world. Thank you for all you did, Ron. I’ll see you at the movies.

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