Sanford (“Sandy”) Reisenbach, former executive vice president, marketing and planning at Warner Bros., died in Beverly Hills on January 6 following a lengthy illness. He was 82.
Reisenbach initially joined Warner Bros. Pictures in 1979 as executive vice president, advertising and publicity, guiding more than 250 marketing campaigns, including those for the Academy Award-winning “Chariots of Fire,” the “Batman” and “Lethal Weapon” film franchises and the comedies “Private Benjamin” and “Police Academy.”
After he spent a decade in the film division, Warner Bros. promoted Reisenbach to executive vice president, marketing and planning — a role created for him. For the next 12 years, he oversaw and advised the studio on worldwide marketing; he also had oversight over Warner Bros. Family Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, the company’s kids’ programming and marketing initiative, and theme park interests.
In 2001, Reisenbach stepped away from his day-to-day responsibilities at Warner Bros. and became a consultant to Barry Meyer and Alan Horn, who were running the studio at that point.
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Reisenbach’s career began in the early 1950s in the mailroom of the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample advertising agency, where he worked while completing his degree in marketing by attending night school at NYU’s School of Commerce. He left Dancer Fitzgerald to join Grey Advertising, where he worked his way up to become media director and created an entertainment division that planned and bought media specifically for films and TV movies. He eventually came to serve as president of Grey’s leisure entertainment division, with Warner Bros. Pictures as one of his biggest clients.
Warner Bros.’ senior executives at the time, Steve Ross, Ted Ashley and Frank Wells asked him to leave Grey after 20 years and join the studio, where he spent the rest of his career.
In 2002, he was honored for his groundbreaking contributions to the art and business of movie marketing and advertising at the Hollywood Reporter’s 31st Annual Key Art Awards.
Among his numerous industry activities, Reisenbach served on the board of directors for the Association of National Advertisers and was a chairman of the Advertising & Publicity Committee of the Motion Picture Association of America. He was also a member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Reisenbach worked as an adjunct professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business. He had mentored young people during his Madison Avenue days and continued to do so throughout his Hollywood career.
In 1990, Reisenbach lost his son to random gun violence in New York City. Afterwards, the New York media community established the John A. Reisenbach Foundation, an organization dedicated to creating a better and safer New York, on whose advisory board Reisenbach served from inception.
Community and nonprofit organizations were also an important part of Reisenbach’s life. He served on the Board of Directors for ICAN Association, a charity to help prevent child abuse and neglect. He was also on the board of It’s Time for Kids, providing special events for underserved foster youth throughout Los Angeles. He was honored in 2002 for his contributions and service on the advisory board of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence.
Reisenbach is survived by his wife, Gayle; daughters Amy and Liza Price; and a granddaughter.
Funeral services will be held Friday, January 9, at 10 a.m. at Hillside Memorial Park (Large Chapel), 6001 West Centinela Ave., Los Angeles.
Donations may be made to the Heart Institute at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.