Alice Donenfeld in the Int'l TV Distribution Hall of Fame.

Author:Serafini, Dom

Marvel and DC Comics have something in common: superhero Alice Donenfeld. She first became familiar with the comics world through her husband, Irwin, who was the son of DC Comics founder, Harry Donenfeld. She never worked for DC, but she served as VP for rival Marvel, before becoming an EVP at Filmation, a company with a large catalog of DC Comics programs. Later, she went solo with the eponymous Alice Entertainment.

Alice Donenfeld's challenges began well before she ever entered the entertainment business. In 1956--when she was just 18 years old and still known as Alice Ray Greenbaum--her mother pushed her to get married.

By the time she met Irwin Donenfeld in 1960 --when she was just 22--she was already on her second divorce, and working her way through law school as a coat checker at Gatsby's restaurant and nightclub in New York City. He would become her third husband.

While it sounds exhausting, working at night and going to school during the day was considered the perfect arrangement for a superwoman who ended up dealing with superheroes on both sides of the spectrum: Superman and Batman on the DC Comics side, and Spiderman and Captain America on the Marvel side.

Irwin Donenfeld (who passed away in 2004 at age 78) was the son of Romania-born Harry Donenfeld, who printed and distributed New York City's Detective Comics, where a number of superhero characters originated, including Superman in 1938. It later became the DC Comics we know today. (In 1961, DC Comics became part of a publicly traded group, which in 1967 was taken over by Kinney National. In 1972, it was incorporated into Warner Bros.)

Despite her personal connection to DC, in 1977, Alice--who'd worked as an entertainment lawyer for 14 years and was by then divorced from Irwin, as well--started working for competitor Marvel Comics. She followed this up with a seven-year stint as a top-level international sales executive with Filmation, which began in 1982, and finally, in 1989, with her own company, Alice Entertainment.

She also consulted for Seagull Entertainment from 1996 to 1997, Faith & Values Media from 2000 to 2001, and DIC Animation from 2004 to 2005, only retiring from the distribution business in 2005, when she moved permanently to Mexico.

Donenfeld's transition from legal to content sales occurred gradually. "After becoming a lawyer and being admitted to the New York Bar in 1965," she explained, "I had a few choices--go into wills or estates (both of which deal with dead people), or go into entertainment. I chose the latter, and eventually represented stars such as Mel Brooks."


To continue reading