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Obituary : Henry G. Plitt; Developed National Chain of Movie Theaters

January 27, 1993|BURT A. FOLKART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Henry G. Plitt, a World War II hero who after his discharge developed Plitt Theatres into a chain of 600 movie screens nationwide before selling most of them in 1985, died early Tuesday of pancreatic cancer at his Beverly Hills home.

Plitt was 74 and at his death was chairman of the board of Plitt Amusement Co., which owns nine theaters in Washington state. A company spokeswoman said Plitt also headed the Showscan Corp., a new company working on a high-technology film process designed to enhance the integrity of screen images.

He was a member of the New York State Bar when he joined the 101st Army Airborne Division before World War II. When he was discharged in 1946, he had been awarded four Purple Hearts for his various wounds, the Silver and Bronze stars, each with a cluster, and was among an elite group of paratroopers who jumped into occupied Holland and France, the latter during the D-Day invasion.

He came home a hero in 1944. After speaking for a time at war bond and other patriotic rallies, he was returned to Europe where he helped in the liberation of several concentration camps and was involved in the pursuit and capture of Nazi war criminals. He eventually was promoted to brigadier general.

At war's end, he became an executive of Paramount Theatres and president of ABC Films in New York in 1959 after Paramount and ABC merged.

He subsequently acquired the Paramount chain and built it into Plitt Theatres, of which he was majority owner. The chain was sold to Cineplex Odeon Corp. in 1985. The sale included Plitt's two screens in Century City.

Plitt, a graduate of Syracuse University and St. Lawrence University School of Law, was a major benefactor for Jewish organizations, among them the Beverly Hills Maple Center, a support group for troubled families. He also served as chairman of the National Board of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces--a USO-type organization--and was president of the West Coast Friends of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, which awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in 1991.

Survivors include his wife, Sedge, two sons, a daughter and six grandchildren.

A Los Angeles funeral service is scheduled Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Stephen Wise Temple. A New York City service is scheduled the following day at Riverside Memorial Chapel.

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