The motion picture business mourns the loss of yet another prominent member in the past week. Milton L. Keslow, Co-Founder of General Camera and founder of Keslow Television, passed away on December 29, 2015, at age 80.
Milt Keslow and Dick DiBona started General Camera in 1962. The two met while working at Camera Equipment Co. (CECO, later F&B CECO) in Manhattan. General Camera’s first office was at the corner of 48th Street and 7th Avenue, above the famous Metropole Cafe. Their big break came when Keslow and DiBona made “a handshake deal” with Panavison co-founder Robert Gottschalk to be the sole suppliers of Panavision cameras and lenses on the east coast. Over the next 20 years General Camera moved and expanded their operation four times, eventually settling in a large building near the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. General Camera supplied cameras, lighting, grip equipment, Chapman dollies and cranes for many films, 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 in 1994, while Ron Perelman was CEO.
Many cinematographers and assistants got their start at General Camera. It felt like an elite club, especially if you were lucky enough to be invited into Milt’s huge office.
Milt founded two additional New York City based companies: Imaging Video Inc, which he co-owned with Dick, 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. Milt also helped launch Los Angeles based Keslow Camera. Keslow Camera is owned by Milt’s son Robert Keslow. They have six offices: LA, Chicago, Santa Fe, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Miami.
Milt Keslow’s introduction to the camera equipment industry came while based in Fort Dix, New Jersey where he worked as a movie projectionist during his service in the Korean War. He was an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers.
The son of Russian and Polish immigrants Abraham and Rose Keslowitz, Milt 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.”
He 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. He 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 (Kelsow) Malis, 12 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren and a large extended family.
Milton Keslow (June 26, 1935 – December 29, 2015)