In 1953, when Walt and Roy Disney decided to create their own film distribution company, they called on seasoned exhibitor and distributor Irving Ludwig to help make it happen. Over the next 27 years, Irving helped grow the newly formed Buena Vista Distribution Co. to 20 regional offices in cities including Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. The division he helped create arranged exhibition of Disney movies at theaters throughout the United States and Canada. He later recalled, “Booking theaters was always a good experience because the name ‘Disney’ assured exhibitors they would be showing movies that the whole family could enjoy.”
Born in Russia on November 3, 1910, Irving immigrated to the United States with his family in 1920. Raised in Brooklyn, he later studied advertising and marketing at New York University. In 1929, he entered the entertainment industry as a part-time usher at New York’s famed Rivoli Theatre. After making a suggestion to the owner that he replace a section of the theatre, which had become obsolete with the advent of talking pictures, with an additional 62 seats, he soon found himself promoted to house manager.