2010 Year in Review: Business and Industry

This week we'll be taking a look back some of the notable deaths of 2010, each day remembering a few individuals who impacted our world by being outstanding in their chosen field. Today, we begin with noted Business and Industry leaders and entrepreneurs.

Glenn Bell (AP Photo)Glen Bell – Inspired by the success of a restaurant called McDonald's Bar-B-Que (later shortened to… you guessed it), in 1948 World War II veteran and entrepreneur Glen Bell opened his first restaurant, Bell's Drive-In, in San Bernadino, Calif. He then went on to establish L.A. restaurants Taco Tias and El Tacos before opening the national hot dog chain Der Wienerschnitzel. But his lasting success came in 1962 after he parted ways with his business partners to start a little fast food eatery called Taco Bell. Over the next decade the chain expanded across the country, and in 1978 Bell sold his 868 Taco Bell restaurants to PepsiCo for $125 million in stock compensation. Today, Taco Bell serves more than 35 million people each week in its more than 5,600 restaurants across the country.  Bell died Jan. 10, 2010, at 86.
 

 

 

Bob Guccione (AP Photo) Bob Guccione – It may surprise some to learn that the founder of one of the country's most successful adult magazines once considered entering the priesthood. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Guccione married at age 20 but then left his family to move to London in hopes of becoming a painter. After marrying for a second time, he instead found himself managing a chain of laundromats. Inspired by the success of Playboy magazine, in 1969 he founded Penthouse, an alternative featuring tabloid-style journalism and more-sexually-explicit content (in the earliest days, Guccione himself did most of the photography). By 1982, Forbes listed his net worth at $400 million dollars. In 1984, an issue featuring unauthorized nude photos of Vanessa Williams, the first black woman to become Miss America, sold an estimated 6 million copies. Guccione, who also published less racy content such as OMNI magazine through General Media Inc., lost much of his fortune through bad investments – the big-budget X-rated film Caligula, a Las Vegas hotel and casino, and a nuclear fusion power plant – and Penthouse saw its circulation drastically decline with the rise of the Internet. Guccione died of cancer Oct. 20, 2010, at 79.
 

Elaine Kaufman (AP Photo)Elaine Kaufman – Before starting one of Manhattan's most prominent eateries, Kaufman spent years learning the business inside and out as a waitress and café manager. After opening Portofino's in Greenwich Village with her then-boyfriend Alfredo Viazzi, Kaufman left to start her own restaurant on the Upper East Side, at the time an unfashionable location. Elaine's would become a haven for writers, actors and other celebrities and grow into a New York institution. Woody Allen was a regular (he set the opening of Manhattan there), and writers including Gay Talese, Joseph Heller and Mario Puzo dined there often. Norman Mailer once got in a heated disagreement with Kaufman and vowed never to return (he was back within a week). As its reputation grew, Elaine's – never actually celebrated for the food it served – became a go-to destination for celebrities and celebrity watchers alike, with Entertainment Weekly hosting its NYC-based Oscar party there for 14 years. In 2003, Elaine Kaufman, the colorful, opinionated matron at the scene's center, was named a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. Kaufman died from complications related to emphysema Dec. 3, 2010, at 81.
 

John Kluge (AP Photo)John Kluge – Born in Chemnitz, Germany, in 1914, Kluge moved with his family to Detroit when he was 8. He got his start in the workforce on a Ford assembly line before earning an economics degree from Columbia University and serving in the Army during WWII. He began building his media empire by purchasing stock in the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation in the 1950s. By 1959, he had gained control of the company, which owned TV and radio stations nationwide, and soon changed the name to Metromedia. Nearly 30 years later, he sold the company to 20th Century Fox in a deal valued at $4 billion (the stations would later make the core of the Fox Television Network owned by Rupert Murdoch). The sale landed John Kluge atop Forbes' list of the wealthiest individuals in the United States. Kluge also owned Ice Capades, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Ponderosa Steakhouse chain and a 70 percent share of Orion Pictures. A committed philanthropist, he gave much of his fortune away, including $510 million to be used for student financial aid at his alma mater Columbia, and a 7,400-acre estate worth $45 million that he donated to the University of Virginia. Kluge died Sep. 7, 2010, at 95.
 

George Steinbrenner (AP Photo) George Steinbrenner – Here are two facts almost everybody knows about longtime New York Yankees owner Steinbrenner, so let's dispense with them right away – 1) he was famously parodied as George Costanza's boss in Seinfeld and 2) he hired and fired manager Billy Martin five times. But there are a few interesting facts about this son of a shipping magnate who built the Yankees into a billion dollar sports franchise (the third most valuable in the world) en route to winning seven World Series titles that you might not know. In no particular order… Steinbrenner was an assistant football coach at both Northwestern and Purdue universities in the 1950s. Before becoming involved with the Yankees, he owned basketball's Cleveland Pipers (and hired the first black professional basketball coach in the U.S.) until the ABL went belly up in 1963. Steinbrenner also invested in a few Broadway productions, most of which flopped. He moved to buy the New York Yankees only after his attempt to purchase the Cleveland Indians the previous year failed. He paid roughly $10 million dollars for the Yankees, and would see his investment pay off 100-fold. At the time he assumed ownership, he promised to take a "hands-off" approach to running the team. In 1974 Steinbrenner pleaded guilty to conspiring to give President Richard Nixon illegal campaign contributions, but was later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan. Only three Yankees employees worked for the organization for the entirety of Steinbrenner's 37-year tenure. Oh yes, and Billy Martin wasn't one of them. Steinbrenner died July 13, 2010, of a heart attack.
 

Jerome York (AP Photo)Jerome York – Born in Memphis in 1908, York earned degrees from West Point, MIT and the University of Michigan before going to work for Chrysler, where he eventually rose to the position of CFO and helped billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian increase shareholder benefits. After being passed over as the successor of Lee Iacocca, he spent two years as the CFO of IBM, shepherding the company through a difficult transition which saw it shed 150,000 jobs. In 1997, York joined the board of directors for the then-struggling Apple Computers, which would soon score big hits with its iPod and iPhone products. Returning his attention to the automotive industry, in 2006 York aided Kerkorian in a failed takeover bid at GM, prophetically warning in his resignation letter that their business model was unsustainable. York died of a brain aneurysm Mar. 18, 2010, at 71.

Other notable business deaths in 2010:

Theo Albrecht – Reclusive co-founder of discount supermarket chain Aldi, and co-owner of Trader Joe's

Art Bartlett – Founder of Century 21 Real Estate

Jimmy Dean – Former country singer and TV star who parlayed his charm into selling his own popular brand of sausage

J. Sheldon Gilgore – Led some of the nation's top pharmaceutical companies

Chris Haney – Co-inventor of Trivial Pursuit

Theodore Keel – Labor mediator who helped end major union disputes in New York City from the 1950s to '80s

J. Bruce Llewellyn – Banker, broadcaster and first black owner of a Coca Cola bottling company

Paul Milstein – Leading NYC real estate developer

Fess Parker – Actor and later resort owner and winemaker

Dr. H. Edward Roberts – Inventor of the PC and mentor to young Bill Gates

David Warren – Inventor of the "black box" flight data recorder