A Tribute to a Licensing Veteran: Farewell to Jay Roth

Jay Roth was born in Gary, Ind., on March 19, 1938 and lived there until he moved to Los Angeles, Calif., with his family. He attended Hamilton High School in Los Angeles where he lettered in football and track and field. Jay graduated in 1956 as the president of his senior class and soon thereafter he enlisted in the U.S. Army, as he believed then as he did until he passed away, that serving your country in any capacity was a moral obligation of its citizens.

Roth went on to study at the University of Southern California, then transferred to Michigan State University, graduating with the class of 1960.

Roth began his career as a successful sales and marketing executive in the toy industry through the 1960s, '70s and '80s, where he spent time at companies such as Mattel, Coleco, Cox Hobbies, Kinckerbocker and Leisure Dynamics, eventually starting his own toy company, JRL. It was in these early days of the toy business that Roth established not only his love of products, marketing and manufacturing, but also where he made some of his lifelong friendships that endured through the rest of his life.

Roth was presented with the opportunity to bring his expertise in toys and marketing into the licensing industry, subsequently helping to reinvigorate the animated series "Defenders of the Earth" by creating a licensing program that helped fund–and ultimately save–the production and series for Hearst. That effort launched Roth's full-time engagement in the licensing business.

Roth went on to work at NBC Productions on their animated series "Kissy Fur," then moved to Tom Scanlan's International Broadcasting Corporation, managing the global brand extensions for the Ice Capades and Harlem Globetrotters. Following, Roth went on to take a position at Nelvana as head of worldwide licensing and merchandising, working with animated series including "Babar," "Rupert" and Jim Lee's "WildC.A.T.s"

At the end of his tenure with Nelvana, Roth started his own company, J.A. Roth and Associates, which transitioned him into the role of manufacturer's representative and got him back to his roots working with manufacturers, inventors and right's holders. Roth represented the interests of Li & Fung's Toy Island, Jazwares, CandyRific, ArtBox, X Concepts, Tech 4 Kids, X Kites and numerous other companies, helping to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and royalties for his clients and their licensors. In the early days of J.A. Roth and Associates, Roth brought his stepson Russell Binder into the business and worked with him to teach the finer points of the licensing business and business acumen. Roth's influence and mentoring has much to do with Binder's launch and the sustainability of his own firm, Striker Entertainment.

Family was paramount to Roth. Family came first always, as did loyalty and love to those lucky enough to be in his circle. Roth had two children of his own, daughter Dana and son David. Although his first marriage didn't last, he remarried Donna Roth and welcomed stepson and stepdaughter Russell and Joni Binder. When Roth passed away last August, he left behind a family that had grown to include six grandchildren.

Roth was a mentor to many, loved by most, generous to a fault and committed to family, friends and to a moral and ethical business methodology in the licensing and merchandising field.

"When I first started License! Global magazine in the late 1990s, Jay was very kind to me, gave me sage advice and expected nothing in return," says Steven Ekstract, publisher, License! Global. "I will never forget his altruistic kindness toward me. Those of us who knew Jay and were recipients of his astute business advice and rare kindness will remember him fondly. I've published magazines in a number of industries throughout my 30-year career, and Jay stands out as the nicest and wisest man I ever had the pleasure to interact with. That is a legacy that we all can strive for."

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