Jerry was born June 3,1932 in Portland, Oregon. His father Leo operated 3 movie theaters in Portland but had become intrigued with Walkathons, a marathon-type event that he then produced until 1935 when he had the idea of putting the participants on roller skates on a banked track. Thus Roller Derby was born.
Jerry attended Stanford and Northwestern Universities, then entered the US Army where he served in the Counter Intelligence corp in Austria. A few years after his return to the US he took over the operation of the International Roller Derby League and ran it from 1960 to 1973 when it ceased operations. Roller Derby became so popular in the Bay Area, that it outdrew all professional sports teams except for the Giants. He produced a one hour tape series which was also distributed to over 110 stations in the US and Canada. He did color on many of the telecasts and announced on a few.
Live games were scheduled in major arenas and stadia across the country, and some of the attendance records set were 19,500 at Madison Square Garden; 14,727 at Oracle Arena, Oakland; 23,000 at Shea Stadium New York; 34,544 at The Oakland Stadium; and 50,114 at White Sox Park in Chicago.
He was contacted by Lamar Hunt and a group of AFL football owners to head up a group to buy the Oakland Seals of the NHL. Although his group had the endorsement of the Oakland Coliseum Arena and local media, the NHL chose Charlie Finley who had to suspend operations within two years.
Photo by kaeska from stock.xchng.com
While with BASS he produced concerts for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard for a client. He also presented the Highwaymen (Willie, Waylon, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson) in two concerts for the BASS Ticket Foundation, which provided tickets for the underserved in the community. BASS was also the exclusive ticketing agency used by Bill Graham presents, the Oakland Coliseum Complex, Shorenstein Nederlander theatres, The SF Giants, The Oakland Raiders, The 49ers, the Oakland As, Shoreline Arena, HP Pavilion, Arco Arena and dozens more.
He was also selected to handle the ticketing (and tour with) Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Revue.
In 1970 he produced “Derby”, a documentary about the players in the game, which was judged the best film at the San Francisco Film Festival , and which received excellent reviews from the New York Times, Saturday Review, and most of the critics of the day. Roger Ebert gave it 4 stars….He also produced “First Position”, a cinema verite film centered on the Am erican Ballet School in New York City, with appearances by many of the leading dancers in the world.
In 1974 he and partner Hal Silen started BASS tickets in the Bay Area, the first wholly owned independent computerized service. It provided many producer and customer services that Ticketron hadn’t, and became the dominant ticket service in the SF Bay Area. BASS systems were sold to Vancouver, Houston, and Melbourne (Australia). On November 18, 1985, San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan declared it as “Jerry Seltzer Day” in acknowledgment of his involvement with Thunder Road, a teenage drug and rehab center.
In 1983 Seltzer joined Ticketmaster as executive Vice President, Marketing and Sales, and created the same kind of services that BASS provided and within 5 years the company had virtually eliminated Ticketron from the marketplace. He also provided management help for various local offices including New York, Chicago, Denver, Orlando and Miami.
After leaving Ticketmaster in 1993 he moved from Santa Monica to Sonoma, California, sitting on a number of non-profit boards including the Bay Area American Red Cross. He was asked by Reverend Cecil Williams of Glide Church to hellp and arranged for a venue and helped with the physical production of the 30th aniversary celebration of the church with Robin Williams, Bobby McFerrin, Maya Angelo and others that raised over $300,000. In 1997 he co-founded the Sonoma Film Festival which today is considered one of the leading independent festivals. Proceeds from the Festival were used to restore the classic Sebastiani theatre. He helped present “Derby Baby” at the festival in 2012. Also he and his sister Gloria Gurian donated land in Seaside Oregon to create Seltzer Park near Leo’s home, and presented concerts with Willie Nelson and the Smothers Brothers to raise funds. He served on the Bay Area Board of the American Red Cross and today is involved with the Red Cross and Brown Paper Tickets in co-ordinating blood drives in Northern Califonia, New England and in 2016 in New York….over the last two years over 2500 lives were saved from the blood donated.
In September 2012 he joined Brown Paper Tickets in sales. Brown Paper Tickets, not just for profit, has a mission to make ticket buying low cost and easy for the buyer and producers (www.brownpapertickets.com). Brown Paper Tickets is a fair trade company whose primary purpose is serving the community. He also represents BPT at Rollercon and at the seminars there.
He also serves as “The Commissioner” of modern day Roller Derby. there are now 2000 leagues in 50 countries encompassing over 100,000 participants (www.derbylisting.com). He has no official capacity other than advisor to the various leagues on a non-compensated basis. The Seltzer Cup, named for his father, is presented by him at the annual USARS national championship.
He has a blog: www.rollerderbyjesus.com. Featured in “Five Strides on the Banked Track”, Frank Deford, Little Brown; “A very simple game” Herb Michelson; “From Roller Derby to Rollerjam” Keith Coppage; “Ticket Masters” by Dean Burdick; “Bay Area Roller Derby” by Keith Coppage and Jerry Seltzer. and of course a wikipedia page. he twitters @jeryseltzer, and has over 8000 friends and followers on facebook…, and his blog has had almost 400,000 viewings.
Additional trivia: one of the few people who can say he saw the Chicago Cubs in their last World Series.