Harry Archinal, Longtime Head of Buena Vista International, Dies at 88

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Harry Archinal

A pioneer in the world of overseas distribution, he worked at Disney for more than three decades.

Harry Archinal, who served as president of Buena Vista International, the foreign distribution arm of the Walt Disney Studios, for nearly two decades, has died. He was 88.

Archinal died Saturday from natural causes at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, a Disney spokesman announced.

A native of Brooklyn, Archinal was promoted to president of Buena Vista International in 1972 and remained in the position until he retired from the company on Jan. 1, 1988. During his 33 years with Disney, he became a pioneer in the world of international film distribution and a central figure in establishing the company's great success in overseas markets.

"Harry was an amazing ambassador for Disney's international distribution arm for many years, and he earned a reputation for being honest and fair in negotiating license agreements around the world," Jeff Miller, president of studio operations for the Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.

"He was an amazing mentor to me and many other future executives in international distribution, and he was a great representative for the Disney name and the quality associated with it," Miller continued. "He had an invaluable Rolodex of international contacts. Harry was a great boss and a class act, and we will miss him very much."

After he left Disney, Archinal became an executive vp at the Hollywood special-effects firm Introvision.

His father, Harry Paul Archinal, worked for Samuel Goldwyn Productions for 39 years as company treasurer.

After graduating from Wagner College in Staten Island, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951. He rose to the rank of first lieutenant and served in Japan and South Korea before leaving the service in 1953.         

Archinal began at Disney in March 1954 as a part-time clerk in the foreign department at the New York office of Buena Vista Distribution Co., which had recently been launched by Disney. At the time, he also was working toward his master's degree in history, which he eventually attained from Georgetown University.

Archinal joined Buena Vista International full-time as Latin America sales supervisor and became general sales manager for the foreign division and a vice president before being upped to the top spot in 1972.  

He was named a Disney Legend in 2009.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Beatrix; their son Robert and daughter-in-law Claudia; and grandchildren Bradley, Brian, Ashley and Amber.

A funeral service will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Monday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills. Please RSVP to roberttreuherz1@gmail.com if you plan to attend.