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Lido Anthony Iacocca (Lee Iacocca)

businessman , retired automotive executive , venture capitalist

Lido Anthony "Lee" Iacocca is an American businessman known for engineering the Ford Mustang and Ford Pinto cars, being let go from Ford Motor Company, and his revival of the Chrysler Corporation in the 1980s. He is the author (or co-author) of several books, including Iacocca: An Autobiography (with William Novak), and Where Have All the Leaders Gone? Portfolio named Iacocca the 18th-greatest American CEO of all time.

Background

Ethnicity: His parents, Nicola Iacocca and Antonietta Perrotta, were Italian immigrants (from San Marco dei Cavoti, Benevento)

Education

He attended William Allen High School as part of his primary education.

Lee Iacocca studied at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. During his years at the university, Iacocca became a member of the Theta Chi Fraternity and eventually graduated with a degree in industrial engineering, a focus suitable to the booming steel industry in the area.

With a Wallace Memorial Fellowship, Lee Iacocca traveled to Princeton University in nearby New Jersey to study politics and plastics before beginning his career in the automotive industry with the Ford Motor Company.

Career

He began his career at Ford as an engineer but soon switched to sales and eventually moved to product development where the work better suited his desires. His "56 for 56" marketing campaign in 1956 was a landmark in his career with Ford and eventually helped him rise through the ranks of the company where he ended up as President of the Ford Division in 1964.

During his career with Ford, Iacocca helped design and market several of Ford's most successful automobiles including the Ford Mustang, the Ford Fiesta, and the Lincoln Continental Mark III. He also helped revive the Mercury brand with the Mercury Marquis and the Mercury Cougar. Although he helped Ford earn billions in profit, Henry Ford II fired Lee Iacocca in 1978 as a result of personal conflicts between them.

Immediately following his departure from Ford, Lee Iacocca joined the Chrysler Corporation to help them revive their failing automobile business. At the time, Chrysler was on the verge of bankruptcy and was losing money on larger model cars. As soon as he stepped into office as Chairman, Iacocca began rebuilding the business by restructuring levels, removing workers, and selling off portions of the corporation that were losing money. Besides bringing over some professionals from his work at Ford, Iacocca also brought with him the MiniMax project, a minivan model that Henry Ford II hated and refused to incorporate into the Ford line of products.

With the fuel crisis of the 1970s, Americans were looking for automobiles that were more fuel efficient and inexpensive than previous models. As a result, Iacocca introduced small compact cars from Chrysler that the American public embraced. These small models, along with the minivan, were ideas that had been rejected by Ford. The smaller Chrysler models were a hit and the minivan became the essential family vehicle as soon as it was introduced only a few years later.

Iacocca eventually left Chrysler in 1993, but not before acquiring AMC, the parent company of the Jeep brand. The Jeep Grand Cherokee had been in Lee Iacocca's sights for a long time and he helped Chrysler acquire the rights prior to his departure.

Besides contributing to the American automotive industry, Lee Iacocca also wrote a series of books detailing his life and work. He has also been a long-time supporter of diabetes research ever since his first wife, Mary McCleary, died of complications from diabetes in 1983. Although he has officially retired from Chrysler, Iacocca continues to write and speak on behalf of the company and contributes to websites and editorials concerning politics and the state of America.

Achievements

  • revival of the Chrysler Corporation in the 1980s

Works

  • Iacocca: An Autobiography

  • Talking Straight

  • Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

Politics

On December 3, 2007, Iacocca launched a website to encourage open dialogue about the challenges of our time.

Views

philanthropy

Quotations: Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course." Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

Membership

  • Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society , the USA

    1942

Interests

  • Politicians

    George W. Bush, Dick DeVos, Bill Richardson

  • Other Interests

    Activism and philanthropy

Connections

father:
Nicola Iacocca - Italy - businessman

mother:
Antonietta Perrotta - Italy - businessman

Wife:
Mary McCleary

Iacocca was married to Mary McCleary in 1956. They had two daughters.

Daughter:
Kathryn Iacocca

Daughter:
Mary Iacocca

Mary Iacocca died in 1983 from 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.

Wife:
Peggy Johnson

Iacocca married his second wife Peggy Johnson on April 17, 1986 but in 1987, after nineteen months, Iacocca had the marriage annulled.

Wife:
Darrien Earle

He married a third wife, Darrien Earle, in 1991. They were divorced three years later.