Alkaios Angelopoulos, known as “Angel” to his friends and colleagues, loved to learn. In 1951, he founded Educational Materials Enterprises S.A., a company that represented foreign publishers and film companies in Greece. Angel was determined to bring a world of information and inspired entertainment to his native Greece and, in 1953, Walt Disney Productions joined his roster of prestigious clients. Mary Tenti, who worked with him in his Athens office, recalled, “Angel was very fond of education. His beloved baby, besides Disney, was the book.”
Born in Patra, Greece, on August 8, 1907, Angel studied law and political science at Athens University. In 1934, he moved to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where he practiced law at the Mixed Courts of Ethiopia. He soon, however, turned to newspaper reporting for the International News Service (INS) and covered the Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-36) and the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).
During World War II, he enlisted with the Greek Resistance forces against German occupation. He continued to report for the INS after the way, covering the Balkans and Near East. Then, in the early 1950s, Angel decided to switch careers again; this time he became a representative of intellectual properties such as Encyclopedia Britannica and, of course, Disney.
True to Angel’s enthusiastic nature, he pursued his Disney marketing venture with vigor. Among his contributions was the launch of the first Greek Disney magazine, Mickey Mouse Weekly, published by licensee Terzopoulos. He also recruited licensees to manufacture character merchandise; these included Panini, an Italian company that produced popular Disney-themed stickers and sticker books. Before long, Angel’s responsibilities spread to developing markets in Yugoslavia, Turkey, and Egypt. He also provided exceptional leadership fighting against the piracy of Disney characters in Greece, creating an environment in which Disney licensees could thrive.
Former European sales representative Armand Bigle recalled, “There were no strong copyright rules in Greece, at the time, like there were in France or England. Angel fought very hard to protect Disney and its characters.”
Later, Angel’s love of Disney and learning motivated him to assist Roy O. Disney in raising funds for the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. The art school, founded in 1970, was a dream of Walt Disney, who died in 1966 before its completion. As Roy O. Disney wrote to Angel in 1969, “You have supported the school on faith alone in past years. We hope you will continue to participate with us as the promise becomes a reality.”
Filled with passion and tremendous drive, Angel worked eight to 10 hour days into his 80s. Angel passed away on May 13, 1990, in Athens.