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Charles Hollis "Chuck" Taylor (June 24, 1901June 23, 1969), was an Americanmarker basketball player and shoe salesman/evangelist. He is best known for his association with the Chuck Taylor All-Stars sneaker, the most successful selling basketball shoe in history. A full biography of Chuck Taylor was published by Indiana University Press in 2006.

Biography

The Converse All-Star shoe, one of the first especially for basketball, was introduced in the 1910s, and Taylor started wearing them in 1917 as a high school basketball player. (A.G. Spalding had already been making a basketball-model shoe for nearly 2 decades.) In 1921, Taylor went to the Converse Shoes Chicagomarker sales offices in search of a job. S.R. "Bob" Pletz, an avid fisherman and sportsman, hired him .

Within a year, Taylor's suggestions - fabricating the shoe differently for greater flexibility and support, and providing a patch to protect the ankle - were incorporated into the shoe. The All-Star star went on the patch immediately, and by 1923, Chuck Taylor's name was on the patch as the shoe became the Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

Undoubtedly, having a better shoe was an advantage - but Chuck Taylor was also an exceptional representative for Converse. Joe Dean, who worked as a sales executive for Converse for nearly 30 years before becoming the athletic director at Louisiana State Universitymarker, told Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer, "It was impossible not to like him, and he knew everybody. If you were a coach and you wanted to find a job, you called Chuck Taylor. Athletic directors talked to him all the time when they were looking for a coach."

Despite the fact that over 600 million pairs of Chuck Taylor shoes have been sold, Taylor didn't get rich from it. He never made a dime in commissions, only a salary from Converse. For years, he drove a white Cadillac across the country with a trunk full of shoes, living in motels, and with only a locker in the company's Chicagomarker warehouse as a permanent residence. Author Abraham Aamidor, however, points out that Taylor wasn't sparing in use of the Converse expense account.

In 1922, Taylor began the Converse Basketball Yearbook, in which the best players, trainers, teams and the greatest moments of the sport were commemorated. A good sales tool, and in 1928, it was enlarged. In 1935, Taylor invented the "stitchless" basketball that was easier to control.

The basketball clinic, however, was the core of his basketball - and shoe - evangelism. In 1922, Taylor led the first one at North Carolina State Universitymarker, and continued for years. His next "demonstration" (as Taylor phrased it) was for Fielding Yost at the University of Michiganmarker, then for Columbia and for Doc Carlson at Pittmarker. It continued for a third of a century, in the high schools and YMCAs of the country. The way Steve Stone (a former Converse president) put it, "Chuck's gimmick was to go to a small town, romance the coach, and put on a clinic. He would teach basketball and work with the local sporting goods dealer, but without encroaching on the coach's own system."

While Taylor was a coach in the sense of providing training for athletes, his only teams were players named to All-Star squads in the yearbook; they didn't actually play together. (The Chuck Taylor who played football in 1943 at Leland Stanford Junior Universitymarker and returned to coach Stanford football from 1951-1957 was three decades his junior. There was also a Dr. Chuck Taylor who served as athletic director for Radford Universitymarker from 1974 to 1996.)

Taylor promoted basketball internationally, as well, and in 1936, it became an Olympic sport.

During WWII, Taylor became fitness consultant for the war effort, and GIs soon were doing their calisthenics in the high-top Chuck Taylor sneakers that became the official sneaker of the US Armed Forces. White high-tops originated in 1947 for the 1948 Olympics.

By 1966, Converse owned the sneaker market, with an 80% share. In 1968, Taylor retired. In June 1969, Taylor died in Port Charlotte, Floridamarker of a heart attack, at age 67, just one day before his 68th birthday. Converse started losing market share rapidly from the 1970s on and filed for bankruptcy court protection on 22 January 2001.

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