Harold Greenberg, a Jewish community philanthropist and leader who helped to pioneer the film industry in Canada has died. He was 66 years old.
Greenberg, who has been described as one of the most important cultural architects of Canada’s production and broadcasting industries, 30 years ago founded Astral Communications, then Astral Bellevue Pathe, with his brothers Harvey, Sidney and Ian.
Greenberg was president and chief executive officer of Astral and was executive producer of many films in the 1970s, including the smash hit “Porky’s” and its sequels.
Later, the company concentrated on distribution and, more recently, opened a post-production and dubbing facility in Montreal, AstralTech. Astral was instrumental in bringing pay and pay-per-view television to Canada.
Greenberg also played a key role in the early development of Israel’s film industry. In 1968, he opened the first motion picture lab in Israel, Berky Pahe Humprhies in Givatayim.
Under Greenberg’s initiative, Astral’s specialty pay television services also created FUND, a foundation that has contributed millions of dollars to Canadian writers, producers and distributors toward the creation of new television drama.
Greenberg was a close friend and associate of many stars, producers and studio heads in Canada and Hollywood.
Greenberg also was a staunch defender of Canadian culture. During free-trade negotiations with the United States, as chairman of the Canadian Culture- Communications Industry Committee, he convinced the Canadian government to put the protection of cultural industries into the agreement. “A country that loses its ability to express itself is no longer a country,” he said on numerous occasions.
He was a stalwart member of countless Jewish communal organizations and charities in Canada and Israel and was honored over the years by them. Among his Jewish-related honors, he was awarded the State of Israel Bonds’ Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award.
The film industry honored him with the Air Canada Award of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, as well as the Presidential Proclamation Award of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
“My brother’s contribution to our family, this company and to this country is immeasurable,” Astral President and Chief Executive Officer Ian Greenberg said in a prepared statement. “His integrity, warmth and personal skills helped foster a unique environment at Astral. I am sure he will be missed by everyone here and in the industry.”