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.