Harry Archinal

Remembering Harry Archinal

By D23 Team

We’re sad to report that international film distribution pioneer and Disney Legend Harry Archinal passed away on Saturday, May 13, 2017, at the age of 88.

D23 spoke with Dave Smith, Walt Disney Archives founder and former chief archivist, who said of his fellow Disney Legend: “I worked with Harry until he retired in 1988. His office was just down the hall from the Archives in the Roy O. Disney Building. A very nice and friendly man, with a constant smile on his face, Harry was a real gentleman—always cheerfully willing to make time for our questions. [He] was so generous and helpful to the Archives with information on foreign Disney releases, our acquisition of foreign language Disney posters, and contacts with Disney offices throughout the world.”

You could say Harold P. “Harry” Archinal had the movie business in his blood. Born on June 3, 1928, in Brooklyn, New York, he was the only child of Catherine L. Peters and Harry Paul Archinal—the company treasurer for Samuel Goldwyn Productions for almost four decades. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Staten Island’s Wagner College before being drafted into the Army in 1951, where he served three years in the Signal Corps. Ultimately, he attained the rank of first lieutenant and served overseas in Japan and South Korea before leaving the Army in 1953.

Not too long after, on March 8, 1954, Harry was hired by The Walt Disney Company as a clerk in the foreign department at the New York office of the Buena Vista Distribution Company (a division founded by Walt in 1953 to distribute his films). He worked the part-time position—for $50 a week—while he continued pursuing his Masters of Arts in History, a graduate degree he was eventually awarded by Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Several years later, and after time spent as an accountant for the department, Harry was transferred to Burbank; he became the Latin American foreign sales supervisor for Buena Vista International in 1964 before rising to the rank of general sales manager, and then vice president in 1968. In May 1972, he was named president—and it was a job he kept for almost two decades…

Harry officially retired from The Walt Disney Company—where he’d spent his entire career—on January 1, 1988. In 2009, he was named a Disney Legend for his trailblazing work.

“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,” said Jeff Miller, President, Operations for The Walt Disney Studios. “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. He had an invaluable rolodex of international contacts. Harry was a great boss and class act, and we will miss him very much.”


Harry is survived by his wife of 43 years, Beatrix; their son, Robert Treuherz, M.D., daughter-in-law Claudia; and four grandchildren.