By Susan Bender
Recalling my lifetime in the entertainment industry, and 50 glorious years in television for VideoAge, is a pleasure. As a child and adolescent, I sang and entertained for many local organizations and charities in my home state of Ohio, then went on to college at Purdue University, where I majored in Theater. A solo singing career followed at nightclubs throughout the U.S., and then I had the pleasure of being asked to join a singing group, the New Christy Minstrels, and we toured the entire U.S. One of the highlights of my time with them was joining Bob Hope in 1970, on a USO Tour, performing in Japan, and for our troops in the DMZ Zone in South Korea.
In 1972, between singing engagements, I accepted what I thought was going to be a temporary position at Metromedia Producers Corp., in its Music Royalties division. And the rest is history! (At least my history!) Singing became an avocation, and television became my priority. I learned from the ground up — accounting, worldwide contracts, and administration. Later, I was promoted to executive director of International TV Sales. It didn’t take long for me to realize how much I loved one of my territories: the Latin clients and their region. I sold in LATAM shows like Dynasty, Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch, and Fantasy Island, just to name a few.
In 1986, Bruce Gordon (pictured above at left), who was then president of International Television at Paramount Pictures, asked me to come to Paramount to handle Latin American television sales. This made me the first gringa to ever handle Latin America for a major studio! And thus began my 20-year tenure as vice president of Latin American Sales for Paramount.
In 2007, I opened my own company, Bender Media Services. The name has since been changed to SLB Enterprises. I handle a wide variety of TV product from various producers. I’m always looking for that niche program that may be able to fill a slot with my Latin buyers. My concentration is the same region: Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market.
My wonderful clients are the reason I continue, because our core business has certainly changed. I have known many of them since they were very young, and have now been in charge of various channels in LATAM for many years.
Now they are like family to me. I feel so blessed to be a part of their lives, and to have been in this business during the true “glory days” of the 1980s and ’90s.
I have also lost dear friends and colleagues during these last few years. It only further emphasizes how important it is to love what you do and fill each day with laughter and happiness for we never know what tomorrow will bring. Hence my motto continues to be a song I have sung many times: The Best Is Yet To Come!!!