Charles Bluhdorn

Charles George Bluhdorn (born Karl Georg Blühdorn; September 20, 1926 – February 20, 1983) was an Austrian-born American industrialist.

Charles George Bluhdorn
Born
Karl Georg Blühdorn

September 20, 1926
Vienna, Austria
DiedFebruary 20, 1983 (aged 56)
ResidenceRidgefield, Connecticut, US
NationalityAmerican
OccupationIndustrialist
Known forGulf+Western
Spouse(s)Yvette M. LeMarrec
Children2
RelativesHatuey de Camps (son-in-law)

Life and career

Bluhdorn was born in Vienna, Austria. Per Who's Who in Ridgefield (CT), he was considered such a "hellion" that his father sent the 11-year-old to an English boarding school for disciplining. At 16, he moved to New York, studying at City College and Columbia and, in 1946, went to work at the Cotton Exchange, earning $15 a week.[1] Other accounts say that he immigrated to the United States in 1942 and served in the U.S. Army Air Forces.[2]

Details of his upbringing are unknown but Vanity Fair reported that: "Truth be told, Charlie wasn't elucidative about a lot of things, including whether he was Jewish, which he kept Hollywood guessing about by posting a sentry outside the men's room door. (That, at least, can be settled here: Not Cut, according to a movieland wife with opportunity for close observation.)"[3]

Three years later, he formed a company that would make him a millionaire at 30; in 1956, he acquired Michigan Bumper, a small auto parts company that eventually grew into Gulf and Western Industries, a conglomerate that ranked 61st in the Fortune 500 by 1981.[1]

Charles married Yvette M. LeMarrec, formerly of Paris, about 1950.[4]

Subholdings of Gulf and Western were blue-chip names such as Paramount Pictures (acquired in 1966), Madison Square Garden, and Simon & Schuster publishing as well as less glamorous holdings such as mining, New Jersey Zinc Company. Paramount was suggested to Bluhdorn by Sumner Redstone and the acquisition was encouraged by Paramount's head of publicity, Martin Davis.[5] It was during Gulf and Western's ownership of Paramount that it went from being number nine at the box office, based upon total receipt sales, to number 1 with such hits as The Godfather and Chinatown.[6]

In 1974 he hired Barry Diller as Paramount's chairman and chief executive, making Diller, at age 32, the youngest studio chief in history and the first to come from the TV business.

Bluhdorn was known to be a tireless executive once dubbed "The Mad Austrian of Wall Street." He maintained his position as chairman of Gulf and Western Industries until his death.[1] He was also infamous (and widely imitated) for his cement-thick Austro-German accent, which has been lampooned in interviews by former collaborators such as Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Evans.

He died of a heart attack on his private jet while returning to the United States from his Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic.[1]

His private funeral services were held at St. Mary's Church in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Among those who attended was friend and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.[1]

At Tufts University in Boston, there is the Charles G. Bluhdorn Prize in Economics, awarded annually to an undergraduate majoring in economics who has demonstrated outstanding scholastic ability. This prize was founded in 1983 by Donald Gaston in memory of Charles G. Bluhdorn.[7]

Bluhdorn's tumultuous relationship with appointed Paramount executive Robert Evans was documented in Evans' 1994 biographical book The Kid Stays in the Picture and in the 2002 film of the same title. Bluhdorn initially hired Evans in 1966 to head European production for Paramount Pictures. He would promote Evans almost immediately to head of production at Paramount Pictures.[8]

The 1990 film The Godfather Part III was dedicated to Bluhdorn, "who inspired it."[9]

Dominican Republic

Charles Bluhdorn was very passionate about his projects in this country. He invested a lot of resources into its social and economic development. Bluhdorn is credited as being the father of the Dominican tourism industry.

In 1967 Gulf+Western paid $54 million for South Puerto Rico Sugar Company. Most of the company's operations were in the Dominican Republic, where it owned the extensive Central Romana sugar mill in La Romana and 300,000 acres (1,200 km2) of land. Nearly half of the land was used to produce sugar cane and, at the peak of the cane-cutting season, the company employed 19,000 people, making it the country's largest private employer as well as the largest taxpayer and landowner.

Gulf+Western acquired Consolidated Cigar in 1968 and shifted the Canary Island cigar-making operation to La Romana.

As Gulf+Western had purchased Paramount in 1966, Bluhdorn had plans to turn the island into a moviemaking mecca. For that purpose he constantly invited producers, directors, writers and movie stars so they could appreciate the natural beauty of the country.

In 1975 Gulf+Western developed 7,000 acres (28 km2) of the sugar mill's land into the Casa de Campo resort. Casa de Campo is home to three internationally renowned golf courses designed by Pete Dye – Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore and Links.[11]

One of Bluhdorn's Dominican friends, Oscar de la Renta, was hired to do interior design for Casa De Campo[11] and licensed his men's wear line through Kayser-Roth.

Kayser-Roth (a division of Gulf+Western), owned the Miss Universe pageant via its acquisition of Pacific Mills. Pacific Mills had invented the pageant to sell its Catalina Swimwear brand. Miss Universe 1977 was held in the Dominican Republic in order to promote tourism to this island.

Former Paramount Studios set designer Roberto Copa designed the artist village of Altos de Chavón[11] in 1976 and it was built by Bluhdorn in the early 1980s. Bluhdorn's daughter, Dominique Bluhdorn, is the current president of the Altos de Chavón Cultural Center.

Altos de Chavón also has a 5,000 seat open air Greek style amphitheatre, which was inaugurated in 1982 by Frank Sinatra[11] with the Concert for the Americas. Bluhdorn had Paramount Pictures record the concert so it could be shown all over the world. Viewers could see the Altos de Chavón artist village, the beauty of the landscapes, beaches and golf courses of Casa de Campo.

Property

Casa de Campo, an hour away from Santo Domingo, was a 7,000-acre (28 km2) exclusive retreat founded by Bluhdorn in 1974. His wife, Yvette, would sell the property after his death in 1984 to the Fanjul Brothers of Palm Beach, Florida.[11][12]

In February 2007 the Bedford, New York estate of his late wife, Yvette, was put on the market for the highest price ever asked for a Westchester County residence. Acquired in 1990 with 25 acres (100,000 m2), Mrs. Bluhdorn expanded the estate to 70 acres (280,000 m2). It included a restored 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2), 23-room Georgian mansion built in the 1920s, another six-bedroom home of 8,000 square feet (740 m2), several guest houses and two pools.[13]

A portion of Charles Bluhdorn's fortune continues with the Charles G. & Yvette Bluhdorn Charitable Trust. As of December 2005 it was reporting $2,396,383 in assets. [via Form 990 IRS][14]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Who's Who in Ridgefield CT A-F". Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  2. ^ Blair, William (20 February 1983). "Charles G. Bluhdorn, the Head of Gulf and Western, Dies at 56". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  3. ^ Anson, Robert (April 2001). "Hurricane Charlie". Vanity Fair.
  4. ^ Anson, Robert (April 2001). "Hurricane Charlie". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  5. ^ Bart, Peter. "Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, the Mob (and Sex)" NY: Weinstein Books, 2011
  6. ^ "Kid Stays In the Picture, The : Who Is Robert Evans?". Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  7. ^ "Charles G. Bluhdorn Prize in Economics, 1983". Tufts Digital Library. Archived from the original on 10 June 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference Kid Stays in the Picture was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ The Godfather: Part III on IMDb
  10. ^ Rowlands, Paul (2013-01-13). "SORCERER (William Friedkin, 1977)". Money Into Light. Retrieved 2013-05-25.
  11. ^ a b c d e Treaster, Joseph (December 28, 1986). "A DOMINICAN RESPITE FROM REALITY". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  12. ^ Cole, Robert J. "Sugar Sale By G.&W". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  13. ^ "BRADY PUNTS". New York Post. February 8, 2007. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  14. ^ "CHARLES G & YVETTE BLUHDORN CHARITABLE TRUST". taxexemptworld.com. Retrieved 30 November 2010.

Further reading

  • "Some Glitter is Gone at Gulf & Western". Business Week. No. 2, 079. 5 July 1969. pp. 34–38.
  • Korda, Michael (16 December 1996). "The Last Business Eccentric". The New Yorker. Vol. 72 no. 36. pp. 82–91.
  • Sobel, Robert (1984). The Rise and Fall of the Conglomerate Kings. New York: Stein and Day. ISBN 0-8128-2961-1.
Altos de Chavón

Altos de Chavón is a re-creation of a Mediterranean style European village located atop the Chavón River in La Romana, Dominican Republic. It is the most popular attraction in the city and hosts a cultural center, an archeological museum, and an amphitheater. The project was conceived by the Italian architect Roberto Copa, and the industrialist Charles Bluhdorn.

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

Casa de Campo (Spanish for "Country House") is a Ponderosa-style tropical seaside resort in La Romana on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic. It was developed in 1975 by Gulf+Western on 7,000 acres (28 km2) of its Central Romana sugar mill's land.

The first to enjoy the luxuries of this enclave were friends of Charles Bluhdorn, Gulf+Western's founder and CEO, who built the retreat. One of Bluhdorn's Dominican friends, Oscar de la Renta, was hired to do interior design for Casa De Campo. After Bluhdorn's death, the Cuban-American Fanjul family (the world's top sugar barons), bought Casa and opened it to paying guests.Golf architects Pete and Alice Dye have had a home at Casa de Campo since the early 1970s, when they guided 300 local laborers with machetes to blaze the Diente del Perro, (Teeth of the Dog, opened in 1971) through the jungle and along a rocky coast. The world's golfers flocked to the course after it served as a backdrop for the 1971 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. It remains the only Caribbean course consistently in the world's top 100 courses (usually top 50). The Links Course (opened in 1974) and the members-only La Romana Country Club (opened in 1990) are inland layouts spiced with lakes. Dye's newest course, the much-acclaimed Dye Fore (opened in 2000), skirts cliffs 300 feet (91 m) above the Chavón River, with views of the village of Altos de Chavón, distant mountains and the new marina. Dye recently completed another course on the plateau next to Dye Fore, called the Dye Fore Lakes.

Casa de Campo has over 1,700 private villas, which range in price from US$500,000 to US$24,000,000, making it also one of the countries' most affluent communities, comparable to the Hamptons.

Completed in 2000, Casa de Campo has a modern, 400-berth marina, complete with a shipyard with a 120-ton TraveLift designed by Italian architect, Gian Franco Fini to resemble Portofino. Surrounding this harbor are over 70 restaurants, shops, bars, and homes. In 2010, the Casa de Campo Marina played host to the Rolex Farr 40 sailing cup.

Casa de Campo served as the backdrop for the 1987 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Cinema Center Films

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Concert for the Americas

The Concert for the Americas was a music festival held on August 20, 1982 in the Dominican Republic at the Altos de Chavón Amphitheater, a 5,000-seat, open-air Greek-style venue located approximately two hours east of Santo Domingo. It was the amphitheater's inaugural event, with performers including Frank Sinatra with Buddy Rich, Heart, and Santana. Santana's set was cut short due to inclement weather.

David Rosen (businessman)

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Don Gaston

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Downhill Racer

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Gulf and Western Industries

Gulf and Western Industries, Inc., (stylized as Gulf+Western) was an American conglomerate. Gulf and Western's origins date to a manufacturer named the Michigan Bumper Company founded in 1934, although Charles Bluhdorn treated his 1958 takeover of what was then Michigan Plating and Stamping, as its "founding" for the purpose of later anniversaries. Through asset management, the company's non-publishing and entertainment assets were dismantled; with the company re-branding as Paramount Communications in 1989 after Paramount Pictures. The company's current remnants operate as Viacom and CBS Corporation.

Harve Bennett

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List of Dominican Republic films

A list of films produced in, set in, or related to the Dominican Republic, in chronological order.

List of Paramount Pictures executives

The following is a list of Paramount Pictures executives.

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Paramount Television Service

The Paramount Television Service (or PTVS for short and also known as Paramount Programming Service) was the name of a proposed but ultimately unrealized "fourth television network" from the U.S. film studio Paramount Pictures (then a unit of Gulf+Western). It was a forerunner of the later UPN (the United Paramount Network), which launched 17 years later.

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The supporting cast includes Edward Herrmann, Jerzy Kosinski, Paul Sorvino, Maureen Stapleton, Gene Hackman, Ramon Bieri, Nicolas Coster, and M. Emmet Walsh. The film also features, as "witnesses," interviews with the 98-year-old radical educator and peace activist Scott Nearing, author Dorothy Frooks, reporter and author George Seldes, civil liberties advocate Roger Baldwin, and the American writer Henry Miller, among others.

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SG-1000

The SG-1000 is a home video game console manufactured by Sega and released in Japan, Australia, and other regions. It was Sega's first entry into the home video game hardware business. Introduced in 1983, the SG-1000 was released on the same day that Nintendo released the Family Computer in Japan. The SG-1000 was released in several forms, including the SC-3000 computer and the redesigned SG-1000 II released in 1984. A third iteration of the console, the Sega Mark III, was released in 1985, which provided a custom video display processor over previous iterations and served as the basis for the Master System in 1986, Sega's first internationally-released console.

Developed in response to a downturn in arcades in 1982, the SG-1000 was created on the advice of Hayao Nakayama, president of Sega Enterprises, Ltd. Shortly after the release, Sega Enterprises was sold to CSK Corporation, which was followed by the release of the SG-1000 II. The SC-3000 and the SG-1000 line both support a library of 76 ROM cartridge games and 29 Sega My Card games, all of which are fully compatible with the Mark III and the Japanese version of the Master System.

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