Happy Birthday to the Godfather of Video!
Arthur Morowitz, founder of Distribpix Inc, turned 70 years old this past weekend.
It is very common that we all see Birthday posts to our favorite porn stars, actors and other major players from the biz. But how often do we pay homage to the behind the scenes legends?
I took the day off on Saturday this past weekend and headed about an hour south to the beach to visit my father for his 70th Birthday. My wife and kids, my brothers and mom were all at the shore and together we celebrated the day. The weather was gorgeous, the day was pleasant and the fun culminated with a very enjoyable Italian dinner.
My father had been a workaholic for most of his life and in the 1960′s, he and his childhood friend, took what was left from their Bar Mitzvah funds and decided to become film producers! With little cash and not much else, they founded Distribpix Inc. which was essentially a small theatrical production company that focused on low budget B/W films, mainly of the sexploitation nature. Before long,soft core turned into hard core and he adapted and thrived- the company would blossom into an East Coast staple, for theatrical and eventually hard good distribution of all sorts.
The company remained very strong throughout 2 1/2 decades and in the 90′s was temporarily mothballed. During his reign, King Arthur, not only revolutionized the adult theatrical experience, by being the first person to introduce day and date releasing, but he also had a huge part to do with the introduction of the modern video retail model and the promotion of the VHS from day one. My dad’s incredible mind for business and strategy, literally thrust him to the top of the video business heap, and he appeared on NBC news and other news forums on several occasions to discuss the video business. He was nicknamed the “Godfather of Video”, by many competitors.
During his video tenure he served as the president of the VSDA, operated and owned the chain of Video Shack stores throughout the tri-state area, owned the huge nationwide METRO Video distribution centers, became the exclusive producer for the WWF, now the WWE, where he worked closely with Vince Mcmahon, to bring the action of the wrestling ring into your living room on home video( of course I was responsible for introducing my father to the world of wrestling). During this time, he experienced everything you can imagine- from mob intimidation to going against the Meese commission to becoming best friends with Hillbilly Jim! Go figure.
I can go on and on and I find my father’s life absolutely fascinating, I have done a solid job preserving this business and film archive for the past 10 years or so. But in the past year, I have become particularly obsessed with the rich history of his tenure, his business ways and the actual scope of his business. It was an empire, literally, and I got to experience it first hand. I was a kid, who spent much of my life growing up around Times Square. I hung out in his offices and in his stores, I worked in the stores, my grandparents worked in the stores, my brother worked in a few of the stores as well. I spent time in the theaters( World and Circus), I worked in the warehouses(METRO), I even attended the CES many times as a youngster. It was an awesome time. I saw things that I should not have seen, and I loved every minute of it. I knew growing up was a bit different for me, because of my father’s career and dedication to his business and family, but it is only of late, now in my 40′s, that I am realizing just how unique it was.
My close friends know that I cherish his legacy and this film archive, and in the process of constant archiving and preserving, I have uncovered files, folders and most importantly photos and video, that have really never been seen before. Most recently, the second of two trunks was discovered by myself and it is most likely for me, the most important find to date. This trunk is filled with mini boxes and envelopes, chock full of artifacts from my fathers NYC days. Like the previous find last year, this trunk is full of his personal stuff as well…. like old day planners, some more amazing business cards, and the two best and clearly the most valuable finds. A full envelope of old theater( grindhouse) locations from around the country, and to top it off, some old 8mm NYC footage, from his camera!! It is mind blowing. I am even more anxious to have this footage transferred.
In the meantime, Happy Birthday!
You are a legend of the video industry, and a widely recognized business success and inspiration to many!
Oh, did I mention that he is also the number one source in the world when it comes to philately and numismatics(stamps and coins), which he was involved in before he ever got into the video business. It really is one hell of a story…….the tale of Philately, Pornography and Politics. LOL!
I love you dad and I hope I can make you proud one day .
Long live the “Godfather of video”!!
Stay Tuned for more………..