He is particularly well known for his creation of SKYY vodka, and is also noted for his extensive real estate investments. Kanbar is stated to own 50 patents on various consumer and medical products, invented the Doctorate-Fuzz-lieutenant comb for sweaters, Tangoes Puzzle Game, the Safetyglide hypodermic needle protector, a cryogenic cataract remover, a new LED traffic light, and Zip Notes, rolled sticky notes with a centerline adhesive strip. He created New York"s first multiplex cinema, the Quad Cinema, which was the first movie theater in Manhattan to have four small auditoriums in one building.
In the beverage industry, Kanbar had a success with SKYY vodka, also introduced Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur and more recently launched Blue Angel Premium Vodka.
He produced the animated film Hoodwinked! which was released in January 2006 and grossed over $100M worldwide. Kanbar owns many commercial buildings in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma including the 41-story First Place Tower.
At one point Kanbar"s company was reported to have owned as much as one-third of all available office space in downtown Tulsa although some of these properties were subsequently sold or reported to be for sale. Kanbar is a 1952 graduate of Philadelphia University (then known as Philadelphia Textile Institute), where he studied materials science.
In 2005, he donated $6 million for the construction of the school"s new campus center, then the largest donation in the school"s history.
In 2012, he gave Philadelphia University another $15 million for a new interdisciplinary college, now named the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce. In 1997, Kanbar donated $5 million to the Tisch School of the Arts, part of New York University, which named its film school after him: The Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. Kanbar Hall, an academic building at Bowdoin College, the alma mater of Maurice"s brother, Elliott, was funded by donations from the Kanbar Charitable Trust and from Elliott.
Kanbar owns and lives in an eight-story residential tower in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.
He received attention for his 1999 decision to evict his tenants in order to become the sole occupant of the building. He has received honorary degrees from Philadelphia University, Kenyon College, Bar-Ilan University, and Yeshiva University.