- Lee Iacocca
name = Lee Iacocca
image_size = 220px
birth_date = birth date and age|1924|10|15
website = [http://www.leeiacocca.com/ www.leeiacocca.com]
Lido Anthony "Lee" Iacocca (born
October 15, 1924) is an American businessman most commonly known for his revival of the ChryslerCorporation in the 1980s,cite web|title=Iacocca, Away From the Grind, Still Has a Lot to Say|publisher="The New York Times"|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/19/business/19auto.html?scp=3&sq=Lee+Iacocca&st=nyt|date=2005-07-19|accessdate=2008-04-17] serving as President and CEO from 1978 and additionally as chairman from 1979, until his retirement at the end of 1992. Among the most widely recognized businessmen in the world, he was a passionate advocate of U.S. business exports during the 1980s. He is the author or co-author of several books, including "" (with William Novak), and " Where have all the Leaders Gone?"
Iacocca was born in
Allentown, Pennsylvaniato Nicola and Antonietta Perrotta, Italian immigrants (from San Marco dei Cavoti, Benevento) who had settled in Pennsylvania's steelmaking belt.Iacocca graduated from Allentown High School (class of 1942), currently named William Allen High School, in Allentown, and Lehigh Universityin neighboring Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in industrial engineering. He is an alumnus of Theta ChiFraternity.
After graduating from Lehigh, he won the Wallace Memorial Fellowship and went to
Princeton University, where he took his electives in politicsand plastics. He then began a career at Ford Motor Companyas an engineer. Eventually becoming dissatisfied with that job, he switched career paths at Ford, entering the company's sales force. He was quite successful in sales, and he moved up through the ranks of Ford, moving ultimately to product development.
Iacocca was married to Mary McCleary in 1956. Mary Iacocca died in 1983 after a decades-long struggle with diabetes. Both before and after her death, Iacocca became a strong advocate for better medical treatment of diabetes patients, who frequently faced debilitating and fatal complications. Iacocca married his second wife Peggy Johnson on April 17, 1986 and they were divorced in 1987 - he had the marriage annulled after 19 months. He married a third wife, Darrien Earle, in 1991. They were divorced 3 years later, in 1994.
Career at Ford
Ford Motor Companyin 1946 and after a brief stint on engineering, he quickly asked to be moved to sales and marketing where his career flourished. While working in a local district for sales, Iacocca gained national recognition in 1956 with his "56 for 56" campaign, offering $56 monthly payment loans for 1956 model year cars. His campaign went national and Iacocca was called to Dearborn where he quickly moved through the ranks to become President of the Ford Division on his 40th birthday, October 15, 1964.
Iacocca was involved with the design of several successful Ford automobiles, most notably the
Ford Mustang. Also, he was responsible for the Lincoln Continental Mark III, the Ford Fiestaand the revival of the Mercury brand in the late 1960s, including the introduction of the Mercury Cougarand Mercury Marquis. He was also the "moving force," as one court put it, behind the notorious Ford Pinto. [ [http://online.ceb.com/calcases/CA3/119CA3d757.htm Ford Pinto reference] ] He promoted other ideas which did not reach the marketplace as Ford products. These included cars ultimately introduced by Chrysler- the K car and the minivan. Eventually, he became the president of the Ford Motor Company, but he clashed with Henry Ford IIand ultimately, in 1978, was fired by Ford, despite the company posting a $2 billion profit for the year.
Career at Chrysler
After being fired at Ford, Lee was aggressively courted by the
Chrysler Corporation, which was on the verge of going out of business (at the time, the company was losing millions, largely due to recalls of the company's Dodge Aspenand Plymouth Volare, cars that Iacocca would later claim should never have been built). Iacocca joined Chrysler and began rebuilding the entire company from the ground up, laying off many workers, selling Chrysler's loss-making European division to Peugeot, and bringing in many former associates from his former company. Also from Ford, Iacocca brought to Chrysler the "Mini-Max" project which, in 1983, bore fruit in the wildly successful Dodge Caravanand Plymouth Voyager. Interestingly, Henry Ford II had wanted nothing to do with the Mini-Max, which doomed the project at Ford. Hal Sperlich, the driving force behind the Mini-Max at Ford had been fired a few months before Iacocca and was waiting for him at Chrysler, where the two would make automotive history.
Iacocca arrived shortly after the introduction of the subcompact
Dodge Omniand Plymouth Horizon. The front-wheel drive Omni and Horizon became instant hits, selling over 300,000 units each in their debut year, showing what was to come for Chrysler. Ironically, the Omni and Horizon had been designed alongside the Chrysler Horizonwith much input from the European division of the company ... which Iacocca axed in 1978.
Realizing that the company would go out of business if it did not receive a significant amount of money to turn the company around, Iacocca approached the
United States Congressin 1979 and asked for a loan guarantee. While it is sometimes said that "Congress" lent Chrysler the money, it, in fact, only "guaranteed" the loans. Most thought this was an unprecedented move, but Iacocca pointed to the government bail-outs of the airline and railroad industries, arguing that more jobs were at stake in Chrysler's possible demise. In the end, though the decision was controversial, Iacocca received the loan guarantee from the government.
After receiving this reprieve, Chrysler released the first of the K-Car line, the
Dodge Ariesand Plymouth Reliant, in 1981. Like the minivan which would come later, these compact automobiles were based on design proposals that Ford had rejected during Iacocca's (and Sperlich's) tenure there. Coming right after the oil crisis of the 1970s, these small, efficient and inexpensive, front-wheel drivecars sold rapidly.
As mentioned previously, Chrysler introduced the minivan, which was by and large Sperlich's "baby," in the fall of 1983. Twenty-five years later, Chrysler continues to lead the automobile industry in minivan salesFact|date=June 2007. Because of the K-cars and minivans, along with the reforms Iacocca implemented, the company turned around quickly and was able to repay the government-backed loans seven years earlier than expected.
Iacocca was also responsible for Chrysler's acquisition of AMC in 1987, which brought the profitable
Jeepdivision under Chrysler's corporate umbrella. It also created the short-lived Eagle division, formed from the remnants of AMC. By this time, AMC had already finished most of the work with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which Iacocca desperately wanted. The Grand Cherokee would not be released until 1992 for the 1993 model year, at which time Iacocca left Chrysler.
Throughout the 1980s, Iacocca appeared in a series of commercials for the company's vehicles, using the ad campaign "The pride is back" to denote the turnaround of the corporation, while also telling buyers a phrase that later became his trademark: "If you can find a better car, buy it."
Other work and activities
In May 1982,
Ronald Reaganappointed Iacocca to head the Statue of Liberty- Ellis IslandFoundation, which was created to raise funds for the renovation and preservation of the Statue of Liberty. He continues to serve on the board of the foundation.
In 1984, Iacocca co-authored (with William Novak) his autobiography, titled "". It was a hugely successful book, proving to be the best selling non-fiction hardback book of 1984 and 1985. The proceeds of the book's sales benefitted diabetes research.
Iacocca appeared on an episode of "
Miami Vice", playing Park Commissioner Lido in episode #44 (titled "Sons and Lovers") on May 9, 1986. The name of the character is a play on his birth name. Also, he was frequently quoted by Izzy Moreno, one of the show's regular characters.
In 1988, Iacocca co-authored (with Sonny Kleinfeld) "
Talking Straight", [ISBN 0553052705] a book meant as a counter-balance to Akio Morita's "Made in Japan", a non-fiction book praising Japan's post-war hard-working culture. Talking Straight praised the innovation and creativity of Americans. [cite web|title=Talking Straight (Hardcover) - Editorial Reviews|publisher="Amazon.com"|url=http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0553052705|accessdate=2008-05-05]
Robert P. Caseyconsidered appointing Iacocca to the U.S. Senatein 1991 after the death of Senator H. John Heinz III, but Iacocca declined.
In 1999 Iacocca was the head of EV Global Motors a company formed to develop and market electric bikes with a top speed of 15 mph and a range of 20 miles between recharging at wall outlets. [ [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-54711595.html Car czar Iacocca now hypes bikes] ]
Politically, Iacocca supported the successful Republican candidate
George W. Bushin the 2000 presidential election. In the 2004 presidential election, however, he endorsed Bush's opponent, Democrat John Kerry. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/06/24/iacocca.kerry Iacocca and Kerry] . - CNN. - June 24, 2004] Most recently, in Michigan's 2006 Gubernatorial race, Iacocca appeared in televised political ads endorsing Republican candidate Dick DeVos, [ [http://www.adpunch.org/entry/lee-iacocca-pitches-in-to-rescue-dick-davos/ Ad Punch.org report on DeVos political ads] ] who lost. He has endorsed New Mexico Governor Bill Richardsonfor President in the 2008 Presidential Election.
Following the death of Iacocca's wife from diabetes, he has become an active supporter of research to find a cure for the disease, and has been one of the main patrons of the innovative diabetes research of
Denise Faustmanat Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2000, Iacocca founded Olivio Premium Products, which manufactures the Olivioline of food products made from olive oil. He donates all profits from the company to diabetes research. In 2004, Iacocca launched Join Lee Now, [ [http://www.joinleenow.org/ Join Lee Now website] ] a national grassrootscampaign that will bring Faustman's research to human clinical trials in 2006.
Iacocca has been an advocate of "Nourish the Children", an initiative of Nu Skin Enterprises, [ [http://www.nuskinenterprises.com/ Nu Skin Enterprises website] ] since its inception in 2002. He is currently its chairman. He takes an active interest in the initiative and helped to donate a generator for the
Malawi, Africa VitaMeal plant.
On May 17, 2007,
Simon & Schusterpublished Iacocca's new book, "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?", co-written with Catherine Whitney. [ [http://www.bookstandard.com/bookstandard/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002650026 Where Have All the Leaders Gone on bookstandard.com] ] [ [http://www.bookstandard.com/bookstandard/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002876155 Catherine Whitney reference] ] An article with the same title, and same two co-authors, has recently appeared. [http://www.ichblog.eu/content/view/1145/1/] In the book, Iacocca writes:
On December 3, 2007, Iacocca launched a website intended to encourage open dialogue about the challenges of our time, such as what soaring health care costs are doing to America and why the U.S. lags so far behind in developing alternative energy sources and hybrid vehicles. The site also promotes Iacocca's book "Where Have All the Leaders Gone" and allows users to rate presidential candidates by the qualities Iacocca feels every true leader should possess: curiosity, creativity, communication, character, courage, conviction, charisma, competence and common sense.
Iacocca led the funding campaign to expand
Lehigh Universityinto buildings formerly owned by Bethlehem Steel. Iacocca Hall on the Mountaintop Campus of Lehigh University houses the College of Education, the biology and chemical engineering departments, and The Iacocca Institute, which is focused on global competitiveness.
"Return" to Chrysler
Iacocca retired as President, CEO and Chairman of Chrysler at the end of 1992. In 1995, he assisted in billionaire
Kirk Kerkorian's hostile takeoverof Chrysler, which was ultimately unsuccessful. The next year, Kerkorian and Chrysler made a five-year agreement that includes a gag order preventing Iacocca from speaking publicly about Chrysler. [Special Reports: [http://www.detnews.com/specialreports/2002/iacocca/a08-442452.htm Timeline: The career of Lee Iacocca] . - " Detroit News". - March 17, 2002.]
In July 2005, Iacocca returned to the airwaves as Chrysler's pitchman, along with stars such as
Jason Alexanderand Snoop Dogg, to promote Chrysler's "Employee Pricing Plus" program; the ads reprise the "If you can find a better car, buy it" line that was Iacocca's trademarkin the 1980s. In return for his services, Iacocca and DaimlerChrysleragreed that his fees, plus a $1 donation per vehicle sold from July 1through December 31, 2005, would be donated to the Iacocca Foundation for diabetesresearch. Iacocca appeared in a 2005 Iacocca/Chrysler commercial with an actress, not his actual granddaughter, [ [http://entertainment.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=198057 2005 commercial article] ] which many people think.
In popular culture
Iacocca's legacy can be noted by parodies and mentions in film and other media. In the 1987 movie, "
RoboCop", which takes place in future Detroit, one "Mediabreak" reports an incident that took place at fictitious "Lee Iacocca Elementary School." More recently, in the "The Office" episode "Cocktails", Michael Scott toasts with a glass of 20-year, single malt scotch, "To Mr. Iacocca and his failed experiment, the De Lorean." (Iacocca had nothing to do with the De Lorean car. John De Lorean, the automotive engineer, worked for Chrysler, but only briefly, making his name at Packard and GM.) Incidentally, one of the writers, producers, and stars of "The Office" is B.J. Novak, whose father is William Novak, co-author of Iacocca's autobiography.
Chrysler's loan guarantee controversy was parodied by folk singer
Tom Paxtonin his song [http://sniff.numachi.com/pages/tiCHRYSLER.html "I'm Changing My Name to Chrysler"] as a (not particularly serious) way for individuals to get out of their own financial problems. Part of the chorus of the song goes, "I will tell some power broker/What he did for Iacocca/Will be perfectly acceptable to me." Iacocca was further referenced in the long-time unreleased Neil Young song 'Ordinary People' refers to 'Lee Iacocca people'. It was released on the album " Chrome Dreams II" in October 2007.
urban mythclaimed that Iacocca had adopted his surname by deed poll, as an acronym for "I Am Chairman Of Chrysler Corporation America", but this was in fact his birth surname and the acronym merely a coincidence.
*Cite book| author=Iacocca, Lee|title=Where Have All the Leaders Gone|publisher=Scribner| year=2007|id=ISBN 1416532471
*Iacocca, Lee and William Novak (1986 reissue). "". Bantam. ISBN 0553251470
*Cite book | author=Vlasic, Bill and Bradley A. Stertz| title=Taken for a Ride: How Daimler-Benz Drove off with Chrysler | publisher=William Morrow & Company| year=2000 | id=ISBN 0688173055
* [http://www.leeiacocca.com/ Iaccoca.com]
* [http://www.iacoccafoundation.org/ Iaccoca Foundation]
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9839029 Iacocca Says "Detroit Is Living in the Past"] , National Public Radio
* [http://heritage.web.lehigh.edu/index.php/Iacocca%2C_Lee Lehigh University Engineering Heritage Initiative Iacocca Biography]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Lee Iacocca — (Lido Iacocca; * 15. Oktober 1924 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA) – Sohn italienischer Einwanderer – ist ein wichtiger Manager in der Automobilindustrie, der für verschiedene amerikanische Unternehmen arbeitete. In der Liste der besten… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Lee Iacocca — Lee Iacocca, né le 15 octobre 1924, est principalement connu pour avoir été président de Chrysler de 1978 à 1992. Ingénieur de formation, il débute sa carrière chez Ford en août 1946. Il y restera jusqu en juillet 1978. Il en intègre les services … Wikipédia en Français
Lee Iacocca — Archivo:LeeIacocca.jpg Lee Iacocca. Lido Anthony Lee Iacocca (nacido el 15 de octubre de 1924 en Allentown, Pensilvania, Estados Unidos), de ascendencia italiana, es una de las personas más representativas de la industria del automóvil de finales … Wikipedia Español
Lee Iacocca — former American executive of the automobile industry (served as President of Ford Motor Co. and CEO of Chrysler Corp.) … English contemporary dictionary
Iacocca — Lee Iacocca Lee Iacocca (Lido Iacocca * 15. Oktober 1924 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA) – Sohn italienischer Einwanderer – ist ein wichtiger Manager in der Automobilindustrie, der für verschiedene amerikanische Unternehmen arbeitete. Im August… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Lee (given name) — Lee is a given name, and may refer to:In art:* Lee Miller, American model and photographer * Stan Lee, American writer and editor of comic booksIn music: * Lee Wiley, American jazz singer from the big band era * Lee Harding, Australian singer *… … Wikipedia
Iacocca — n. Lee Iacocca (former executive of the Ford and Chrysler automobile industries) … English contemporary dictionary
Iacocca — [ aɪəkəkə], Lido (»Lee«) Anthony, amerikanischer Industriemanager, * Allentown (Pennsylvania) 15. 10. 1924; 1960 78 Führungspositionen bei der Ford Motor Company (Entlassung durch Henry Ford II.), 1978 93 Vorsitzender der Chrysler Corporation.… … Universal-Lexikon
Lee — /lee/, n. 1. Ann, 1736 84, British mystic: founder of Shaker sect in U.S. 2. Charles, 1731 82, American Revolutionary general, born in England. 3. Doris Emrick /em rik/, born 1905, U.S. painter. 4. Fitzhugh /fits hyooh / or, often, / yooh ; fits… … Universalium
Lee — Lee, Anna Lee, Nathanael Lee, Robert Edward Lee, Vernon Lee, Yuan Tseh * * * (as used in expressions) Bench, Johnny (Lee) Berners Lee, Tim Chennault, Claire L(ee) De Forest, Lee Frost, Robert (Lee) Glashow, Sheldon Lee … Enciclopedia Universal