In Memoriam: Milton L. Keslow, 1935 – 2015

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Photos from top left to right: 1) Milton Keslow on the set of “Eyes of Laura Mars.” 2) Milton Keslow (left) and Richard DiBona at the Panavision equipment show in NYC, with the soon to be released Panacam Reflex camera. 3) Milton Keslow (left) and Laszlo Kovacs on the set of “Paradise Alley.” 4) Milton Keslow (right) with Sylvester Stallone on the set of “Paradise Alley.” 5) Milton Keslow (left) with Mary Tyler Moore and Anthony Perkins on the set of “First, You Cry.”

 

Milton L. Keslow, Co-Founder of General Camera, Founder of Keslow Television, Dies at 80.

Milton L. Keslow, co-founder of General Camera, a leading supplier of motion picture equipment for over 30 years, died on 12/29/2015. He was 80 years old.

Mr. Keslow (ASC) started General Camera in 1962 with Richard DiBona (ASC). The two met while working at Camera Equipment Co. (known as CECO) in Manhattan. Shortly after CECO was sold by it’s founders, Mr. Keslow and Mr. DiBona took the leap of faith together to open their own business, in the hopes of supplying motion picture cameras to the New York production market.  General Camera’s first office was at the corner of 7th Avenue and 48th Street, above the legendary Cafe Metropole. Over the next 20 years they moved and expanded their operation four times, once as a result of eminent domain and the construction of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Their big break came when the two men made “a handshake deal” with then Panavison co-founder, Robert Gottschalk, to be the sole suppliers of their cameras and lenses on the east coast. Panavision equipment was, and still is the gold standard among filmmakers for its cutting edge optics and other innovations. General Camera supplied cameras, lighting, grip stages, and Chapman dollies and cranes for many of the greatest movies of all time, including The Godfather (1972), Jaws (1975), Taxi Driver (1976), The French Connection (1971), Annie Hall (1977), and Tootsie (1982). General Camera was eventually bought by Panavision, under the leadership of CEO Ron Perleman in 1994.

In addition to being a distinguished equipment company, General Camera was also known as a company where many great cinematographers and cameramen got their start. Cinematographer Craig DiBona (ASC), Richard DiBona’s son, began his career at General Camera and witnessed the company’s ascendance first hand. “Milton Keslow had a keen sense of business,” Craig DiBona recalls. “He had a great feeling that as a team anything was possible, and as it turned out it was. The industry will miss one of the greats of his generation.”

Mr. Keslow went on to found two additional New York City based companies: Imaging Video Incorporated, which he co-owned with Mr. DiBona and later, Keslow Television, which he ran along with his sons Marc Keslow and Seth Keslow until his retirement in 2005. Both companies supplied broadcast video equipment for the television production industry. Mr. Keslow also helped launch Los Angeles based Keslow Camera. Keslow Camera is a leading supplier of motion picture equipment rentals, owned by Mr. Keslow’s son Robert Keslow, with six offices across the country.

Mr. Keslow’s introduction to the camera equipment industry came while based in Fort Dix, New Jersey during his service in the Korean War where he worked as a movie projectionist.

The son of Russian and Polish immigrants Abraham and Rose Keslowitz, Mr. Keslow was born in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York on June 26, 1935. He graduated from James Madison High School in 1954.  Although never a serious student, he was described by all who knew him as a hard worker, a go-getter and a someone with the gift for negotiating and closing a deal.

In life, Mr. Keslow enjoyed horse racing, and was the owner of dozens of trotters that raced throughout the tri-state area.  His love of sports and socializing led him to organize trips to almost every one of the first 25 Super Bowls with his family and friends. For those that knew him, Mr. Keslow was a larger than life person. In his own words, he considered himself, “a lucky man.”

Mr. Keslow was predeceased by his sister, Sandy (Keslow) Miller in 2013. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Sandra Keslow, his three sons, daughters Hara, Lori and Allison, his sister Eileen, 12 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren and a large extended family.
Milton Keslow, ASC (June 26, 1935 – December 29, 2015)

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