Henry G. Plitt, 74, chairman of the board of Plitt Amusement Co. and chairman of the board of Showscan, died yesterday at his Beverly Hills home. Cause of death was pancreatic cancer.
A Syracuse U. graduate, Plitt served six years with the United States Army as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division during WWII and emerged as a genuine war hero receiving the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Croix d Guerre and Order Dutch Lanyard. He was also credited with capturing infamous Nazi war criminal Julius Streicher (who was later executed at Nuremberg) and was involved in the liberation of Dachau.
After the war, Plitt, a member of the New York State Bar, joined United Paramount Theaters as district manager in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, where he put on stage shows for his district’s theaters. Transferring to New Orleans in 1949, he was promoted to division manager of the then Paramount-Richards circuit and several promotions later became president in 1955 .
In 1959 he was appointed president of ABC Films after ABC and Paramount merged. Serving as president of syndication and the production arm of ABC until 1965, he eventually bought out the Paramount Theatre chain which subsequently became the Plitt Theatres nationwide.
With the 1973 acquisition of ABC Great States company (the northern theatrical division of American Broadcasting Co.) and in 1978 acquiring the remaining portion of the ABC theater circuit (then referred to as ABC’s Southern Theatres and renamed Plitt Southern Theatres), Plitt Theatres became the largest independently owned theater chain in the United States with more than 600 screens.
Plitt sold the company in 1985 to Cineplex Odeon Corp. for approximately $ 130 million and until his death divided his time between philanthropic pursuits and serving as chairman of the board of Plitt Amusement Co., Plitt Amusement Co. of Washington and chairman of the board of Showscan Corp., a company which developed a motion picture process by the same name.
He is survived by his wife, Sedge; two sons, Ed and Sam; daughter, Sedgie, and six grandchildren.
Services are at 7 p.m. today at the Stephen Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Dr., L.A. Services in New York will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Riverside Memorial Chapel, Amsterdam Ave. and 76th Street. Interment will be private.