Industry Vet Howard Levine Passes

Industry Vet Howard Levine Passes

Updated: 10:47 a.m. to include additional industry remembrances and memorial service details.

LOS ANGELES — Industry veteran Howard Levine has lost his long battle with cancer, passing away late last night at the age of 64.

Survived by his wife Louise, daughter Jessica and son Justin, a message announcing the loss was posted by the family on Facebook:

“It is with breaking hearts that we tell you Howard’s 3 1/2-year fight with cancer has ended on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019,” the announcement stated. “A funeral service will be held at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, Simi Valley, CA. Memorial donations in Howard’s name may be made to the City of Hope or your favorite charitable organization.”

Levine was well-known as Vivid Entertainment’s national sales manager for many years where he earned a reputation as one of the best salesmen in the adult industry.

Commenting on Levine’s passing, Vivid’s Marci Hirsch told XBIZ “The world is a little less funny today.”

Vivid’s Steven Hirsch remembers first meeting Levine in 1986.

“He worked for General Video and I immediately noticed that he was really good at selling and motivating others,” Hirsch said. “When it came time for Vivid to hire a national sales manager, he was my first and only choice. He was a gifted salesperson. It just came naturally. Some things can’t be taught.”

“Over the years Howard oversaw our sales and was responsible for a good part of our early success,” Hirsch added. “My heartfelt condolences to Louise Jessica and Justin. Howard was a good man.”

AdultMart CEO Rondee Kamins shared a “Cleveland Connection” with Levine.

“Howard was such a good hearted, kind, amusing soul and a great storyteller! Was he a pain in the ass, absolutely, but never malicious with us and always respectful of GVA,” Kamins said. “He will be missed. He was one of the industry’s greatest.”

Mark Hamilton from Pulse Distribution called Levine “a force of nature.”

“While he obviously excelled in sales (his sales pitch on every new release was ‘THIS new title is the BEST title I’ve ever seen!), he’ll be remembered most as a very, very funny and big-hearted man,” Hamilton told XBIZ. “In our monthly company pizza lunch, he took over the room in the best possible way and kept everyone laughing with his stories. If he couldn’t attend, people didn’t quite know what to do with themselves! He’ll be greatly missed by everyone who knew him at Pulse.”

Pulse’s Jim Kohls agreed, saying, “It was never dull with Howard in the office.”

“He had a great sense of humor. He cared about his job. His personality was infectious. He was always upbeat,” Kohls remembered. “He will be missed.”

Castle Megastore’s Mark Franks told XBIZ that “Howard was a friendly colorful personality.”

“For decades, Howard set the standard for super salesman and promoter extraordinaire,” Franks said. “He represented many of the best performers and lines with passion and excellence. Sadly, he is part of the old guard and will be missed by all who knew him.”

“Howard was not only one of the top salespeople in the industry, but he was also truly someone who was nice and funny and one of the more interesting people to spend time with,” Gamma’s Michael Klein said. “I always enjoyed my conversations with Howard and he always had a warm greeting whenever I saw him. He will be missed for sure.”

“Howard was a great guy and a real character,” said Jerry E of Exile Distribution and Juicy Video.

“He along with Marty Turkell and Ed Kail were the true driving force and pioneers behind our industry,” Jerry E explained. “Our real original industry not the tube site trash version we’re in now. He will be truly missed and I know I’m going to miss him talking shit and making me crack up at the office. My heart goes out to his family.”

“Howard and I were very close for those years while working at Pulse,” All Media Group’s Amy Lew said. “We were two peas in a pod, most of the time driving Mark and Jim crazy! In many ways, Howard was my mentor, not just in business but in life. I admired his many talents and the way he colored outside of the lines. Howard followed his own rules of life and cracked a joke about everything. So many great memories I will cherish and I feel blessed to have had him a part of my life. My prayers and love go out to his family in this difficult time.”

“Howard hired me at Vivid way back in the days of Vivid Video in the Van Nuys offices. He was an extremely supportive boss and excellent at his job, working the phones, signing off on paperwork while Steve Hirsch would pop in and out of his office all day — a master multi-tasker and gentleman supreme,” Jill Hagara from BSG PR told XBIZ. “I believe that much of Vivid’s success is attributed to Howard’s hustle and his natural-born ability to sell-sell-sell.”

“I consider myself lucky to have been ‘raised’ by him in this business, and I’m glad I paid attention when he showed me the ropes,” she added. “He was an amazing man and there will never be another like him.”

“Howard was my eskimo as I entered the business at 25. He was the older brother I never had and was there for me when I needed him most,” David Schlesinger said. “A truly special human that I'll miss beyond words.”

Jeff Hawkins from Carrashield Labs told XBIZ he got the chance to work alongside Levine when LFP/Hustler Video and Vivid signed a distribution agreement.

“I at that time was head of Hustler Video and worked out of the Flynt offices at 8484 Wilshire. Upon that agreement, Larry wanted me to spend a couple of days a week at our production studio in Chatsworth where the Vivid staff moved in,” Hawkins said. “My office in Chatsworth was several offices down from Howard’s big end corner office and I could hear Howard on the phone with his customers… wow that was something... seems like he had a love/hate with them but he sure got the results.”

“Howard and I sure had our disagreements and I remember one time he ‘threw me under the bus’ with Larry and the next thing I knew Larry was calling me and said he wanted to see Howard and I in his office,” Hawkins concluded. “I honestly don’t remember what that was all about but later through the years when I saw Howard we both laughed at it and we became good friends.”

“I was deeply saddened when I heard the news,” Hawkins concluded. “Howard was an icon in our industry and he will be deeply missed. RIP Howard.”

“Howard was a magnetic personality, revered for speaking his mind and often with great conviction,” XBIZ founder Alec Helmy said. “Though I never worked with him in a business capacity, I know he had quite the reputation as a sales agent, which tells me he was damn good at his profession.”

“Knowing how he resonated with so many people, I know he will be sorely missed.” Helmy concluded.

In addition to his more than two decades at Vivid where he inspired top-selling titles such as “Batman XXX: A Porn Parody” and “Pam & Tommy Lee: Hardcore & Uncensored,” Levine founded Exile Distribution in 2011, representing high profile studios including BurningAngel Entertainment, Forbidden Fruits Films, Kick Ass Pictures, Severe Sex Films and ATKingdom/AMK Empire.

Industry friends are invited to attend Levine’s funeral service, Sun., July 7, at 12:30 p.m. at Mount Sinai Simi Valley, 6150 Mount Sinai Dr., Simi Valley, Calif., 93063.

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