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Charles Blühdorn (September 20,1926February 20,1983) was a Vienna Austrianmarker-born Americanmarker industrialist.

Per a 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 came to New York, studying at City College and Columbia and, in 1946, went to work at the Cotton Exchange, earning $15 a week.

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+Western Industries, a conglomerate that ranked 61st in the Fortune 500 by 1981.

Subholdings of Gulf+Western were blue chip names such as Paramount Pictures (acquired in 1966), Madison Square Gardenmarker, and Simon & Schuster publishing as well as less glamorous holdings such as mining, New Jersey Zinc. It was during Gulf and Western's ownership of Paramount that it went from being Number 9 at the boxoffice, based upon total receipt sales, to number 1 with such hits as The Godfather and Chinatown.

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

Blühdorn was known to be an incredibly energetic and workaholic dubbed once as "The Mad Austrian of Wall Street". He maintained his position as chairman of Gulf+Western Industries until his death. He was also infamous (and widely imitated) for his cement-thick Austrian 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 Republicmarker.

While Jewish by birth his private funeral services were held at St. Mary's Church in Ridgefield, Connecticutmarker. Among those who attended was friend and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

At Tufts Universitymarker 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.

Blüdhorn's rocky 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. Bludhorn 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.

The Godfather Part III was dedicated to his memory, "for inspiring it."

Dominican Republic

Charles Bluhdorn was very passionate about his projects for this island. 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 Romanamarker and 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 movie making 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 of the sugar mill's land into the Casa de Campo resort. Casa de Campo is home to three internationally renowned courses designed by Pete Dye - Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore and Links.

One of Bluhdorn's Dominican friends, Oscar de la Renta, was hired to do interior design for Casa De Campo 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 brand of swimsuits. 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 Chavónmarker in 1976 and it was built by Buldhorn in the early 1980s as a birthday gift to his daughter. Bluhdorn's daughter, Dominique, 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 with The Concert for the Americas. Bluhdorn had Paramount Pictures record the concert so it could be shown all over the world. Viewerscould see the Altos de Chavón artist village, the beauty of the landscapes, beaches andgolf courses of Casa de Campo.

Property



  • In February 2007 the Bedford, New Yorkmarker estate of his late wife, Yvette, was put on the market for the highest price ever asked for a Westchester Countymarker residence. Acquired in 1990 with , Mrs. Bluhdorn expanded the estate to . It included a restored , 23-room Georgian mansion built in the 1920s, another six-bedroom home of , several guest houses and two pools.


Family Legacy

  • In 2007, Charles Bluhdorn's son and daughter-in-law, Paul and Paige Bluhdorn, continued the family interest in the Dominican Republic with the launch of eatdrinksleep.com, a travel and lifestyle guide to the Dominican Republic with a strong focus on Altos de Chavónmarker and other local accomplishments of Charles Bluhdorn.


  • 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]


Further reading



References




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