Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Stratton Leopold Chasing Dreams: The Collision of Two Industries

Legendary movie producer and owner of the iconic Leopold's Ice Cream, Stratton Leopold, shared how the convergence of ice cream and movies impacted his success. Stratton shared his story as part of the Norman Fries Distinguished Lecture Series at Georgia Southern University.

In the bustling city of Savannah, Georgia, a tale of two passions unfolds—a convergence of cinematic ambition and the sweet allure of ice cream. This is the story of Stratton Leopold, a man whose journey intertwines the worlds of film and frozen delights in an extraordinary saga of perseverance and success.

Leopold shared his remarkable journey as part of the Norman Fries Distinguished Lecture Series at Georgia Southern University's Statesboro Campus recently.

It all began in 1901 when Stratton's father, a young immigrant from Sparta, Greece, arrived in America with his older brother, George. Their quest for a better life led them to Brazil, Indiana, where they laid the foundation for their future endeavors. It was here that the Leopold family's foray into the world of ice cream began, with a relative owning a candy store that also churned out delicious frozen treats.

Stratton's path took a turn when his family relocated to Savannah, Georgia, a city steeped in history and charm. Broughton Street, where they now operate Leopold's Ice Cream, was nothing more than a dirt road at the time—a far cry from the bustling thoroughfare it would become.

As the years passed, the Leopold family's ice cream business flourished, thanks to their unwavering commitment to quality and tradition. Yet, even as success smiled upon them, another passion simmered beneath the surface—Stratton's fascination with the world of cinema.

In the midst of his pursuit of a career in medicine, Stratton found himself drawn to the allure of film. His exposure to the industry during his time at Benedictine Military School kindled a spark that would ignite his imagination for years to come. From his first encounter with Robert Mitchum on the set of "Cape Fear" to his eventual move to New York City to pursue a career in filmmaking, Stratton's journey was marked by determination and resilience.

In Atlanta, a new chapter unfolded as Stratton carved out a niche for himself in the world of film production. His talent and dedication soon caught the attention of industry insiders, propelling him to greater heights of success. Yet, even as he thrived in his chosen field, his love for his family's ice cream business never waned.

Reflections of Stratton's life and career

It was during a visit back home to Savannah that fate intervened once again. Inspired by a neighbor's plea to revive the family's original ice cream parlor at a location on Broughton Street, Stratton and his wife Mary, embarked on a new adventure—one that would see him blending his two passions in ways he never imagined.

With the same fervor and creativity he brought to his film projects, Stratton set about resurrecting Leopold's Ice Cream, infusing it with a sense of nostalgia and modern flair. The result was a beloved institution that captured the hearts of locals and tourists alike, serving up scoops of history alongside cones of creamy goodness.

As the years passed, Stratton's dual pursuits flourished, each complementing the other in unexpected ways. From shipping ice cream to film sets around the world to incorporating the family business into his Hollywood ventures, he found joy and fulfillment in the collision of two seemingly disparate industries.

He remains active in the film industry as well, working on two films currently. One is the the adaptation of a nonfiction New York Times best seller and the best selling memoir, La Americana written by Melanie Bowden Simon, who also works as a Communications Manager for GS. He is also working with GS's Dr. Karl Peace on adapting his autobiography "Paid in Full" into a movie.

Today, as he approaches his 81st birthday, Stratton Leopold reflects on a life well-lived—a tapestry woven with threads of passion, perseverance, and the pursuit of dreams. From the streets of Savannah to the soundstages of Hollywood, his legacy endures—a testament to the power of following one's heart and embracing the journey wherever it may lead.