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Wednesday March 3, 2004

From natural causes on March 1, 2004 at his home in his 98th year, surrounded by his loving family.
Nat was born in downtown Toronto on May 26, 1906 and lived there all his life. From the age of 12 it was clear what his calling would be: the distribution and exhibition of movies. As a boy he sold ads on picture postcards of the stars to the movie theatres along Queen Street from Roncesvalles to the Beaches. He started running his first theatre at the age of 17, while also acquiring a law degree from Osgoode Hall. By 1934 he was in business for himself, founding 20th Century (Twinex) Theatres and building it up to 17 theatres by 1941. Then Famous Players stepped in and offered Nat 25 more Ontario theatres to run - to keep him away from the competition, Odeon. Now he began building new theatres - the Downtown, the Towne Cinema, the International Cinema, the Glendale and many drive-ins. Along with his partners - Raoul Auerbach, Harry Mandell, Dave Griesdorf and Myer Axler - Nat also built the Toronto area's first professional movie production facility at Kleinburg. Starting in the 50s, movie attendance began eroding from the impact of television. Nat responded by creating the world's first dual cinema in Ottawa in 1957, then subdividing the Loew's Uptown in Toronto into 5 theatres. In 1979, at the age of 73, Nat created the ground-breaking concept of Cineplex and built the first Cineplex theatre complex of 18 screens at Toronto's Eaton Centre. Within the community, Nat founded the Motion Picture Theatre Association and the Canadian Film Weekly. He was a member of the Canadian Picture Pioneers from 1943 on and was a charter member of the Toronto branch of Variety, which built Variety Village.
Nat is survived by a large family who all miss his boisterous enthusiasm, his great generosity of spirit and his oft-told stories. Predeceased by all his brothers and sisters - Fanny, Maish, Ida and Sylvia, and by his beloved first wife, Yvonne and his son Michael - he is succeeded by his widow Claire and her children, Bronwyn, Kathryn, Michael, Jocelyn, Philip and David, as well as grandchildren Hannah and Francis, Angela, Michael, Gabriel, Sam, Lauren, Alison and Alexandria, and great-grandchildren Michael and Grace. The funeral will take place on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2004 at 12:00 noon at Holy Blossom Temple, 1950 Bathurst St. In memoriam donations may be sent to: Variety Village, 3701 Danforth Avenue, Toronto M1N 2G2.

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