Richard Citron, aka “Rusty,” who was a marketing key to the revival of film interest in Marvel Comics properties and a personal manager for many big names, died Dec. 16 at age 68 from complications of Lewy Body Dementia.
He had been living at his home in Encino until September 2021, and was then in a memory care facility in Calabasas, Calif., according to longtime friend Don Barrett.
Citron started his career as a page for The David Frost Show in New York when he was 16 years old (he lied about his age to get the gig). For that humble start, he became recognized as a leader and innovator in the global marketing of motion pictures, television, online digital media, consumer products and philanthropy.
He led the team that revitalized Marvel Comics and the franchise of classic characters developed by Stan Lee. Over the course of his career, he guided and was responsible for the theatrical marketing of more than 200 motion pictures. These ranged from animation classics to national mall promotions for George Lucas’s Return of the Jedi, as well as the Rocky franchise. He had working relationships and projects with all the major studios, 15 Networks and Syndicated TV series.
Citron worked for and with teams at 20th Century Fox, LucasFilm, Marvel, Walt Disney, MGM, Sony Pictures, and Universal Studios, among others.
Early in his career, he was a personal manager and represented, among others, Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Dom DeLuise, Larry Gelbart, Richard Dimitri and Sha Na Na.
One of his passions was The Actors Hall of Fame Foundation. Citron created and founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation that is dedicated to restoring dramatic arts education in schools. The Actors Hall of Fame Foundation honors lifetime achievement in film, television, and theater, serving as a conduit to generate new revenues and resources for students, teachers, and organizations.
Citron chronicled his industry life in his book The Elephant Won’t Do Cable!: My Life in Hollywood from Zsa Zsa to Alice Cooper. He was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and was the founding chairman of the Product Placement Council and executive board member of the Film Information Council.
Survivors include his wife 43 years, Jill Citron; two daughters, Rachel and Stacy; son-in-law Ethan; and grandsons Ellis and Miles.
Citron donated his brain for research to the Brain Donor Project in hopes of a cure and more support to treat Lewy Body Dementia. Any charitable donations can be made in Rusty’s name to Hilarity For Charity or the Lewy Body Dementia Association.