Tag: Bingham Family

60 years ago today: a White House race amid Mideast troubles; the future mom of a ‘Silver Fox’ marries (again), and a strike threatens a big Louisville employer

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

The last Tuesday in August 1956 was quite like today: A presidential race geared up for the final, post-Labor Day push, amid boiling Mideast tensions and questions about one candidate’s health. Hot and humid, Louisville distracted itself with celebrity news: a very rich New York socialite with a blue-chip name had just married husband No. 3; years later, her son would become a famous TV news anchor dubbed the “Silver Fox.” And contract talks between a major local manufacturer and thousands of employees were the business story of the day. These were the headlines on The Courier-Journal’s front page that Aug. 28, 1956.

CJ front page August 28 1956
The Courier-Journal front page, Aug 28, 1956.

An editor’s playful headline, “Sweat-ery,” summed up what readers should expect that day: temperatures in the 90s, news to make them wince when many employers still didn’t have air conditioning. But the workplace differed in far worse ways.

Companies openly discriminated on the basis of gender and race. The help-wanted classifieds section for women included Curl’s Tavern on Brook Street, offering $30 a week ($265 in today’s dollars) for short-order cooks; applicants had to be white. Kleins Restaurant on Broadway needed a cook, too — but “colored,” adding: “apply at rear.”

White and colored clerks wanted
Help-wanted ads reflected 1956 segregated Louisville.

That summer’s presidential race was a rematch between the Republican incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower, 65, and the long-shot Democratic nominee he’d beaten four years before: Adlai Stevenson, 56, and a former Illinois governor. Their dueling campaigns argued over whether the economy was adding jobs fast enough. But the greater concern was the crisis in Egypt, where new President Gamal Abdel Nasser had just nationalized the Suez Canal.

Eisenhower and Stevenson
Eisenhower and Stevenson.

Eisenhower, a retired five-star general, was heading back to Washington after a West Coast golfing vacation in Pebble Beach, Calif., with his wife Mamie; it was a pleasure trip, but also meant to project good health after a heart attack he’d suffered the year before.

The gossipy news? It was about Gloria Vanderbilt, born into one of the nation’s wealthiest families, and still known as the “poor little rich girl” because she’d been the subject of a high-profile custody battle between her mother and an aunt over a $4 million trust fund ($67 million in today’s dollars). She was 10 years old at the time.

Vanderbilt and Lumet
Just married: Vanderbilt and Lumet.

In a photograph on the CJ’s front page, the 32-year-old socialite posed for photographers with her new husband, the director Sidney Lumet; they’d wed the previous day. The marriage lasted 11 years until they divorced, and she married husband No. 4 — her last: Wyatt Emory Cooper. They would have two sons. The second, born when she was 43, was named Anderson Hays Cooper. (Her first son, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, committed suicide at 23 by jumping from the ledge of the family’s 14th-floor apartment on Manhattan’s posh upper East Side, as Vanderbilt watched in horror, pleading for him to stop.)

The big business news was a strike Continue reading “60 years ago today: a White House race amid Mideast troubles; the future mom of a ‘Silver Fox’ marries (again), and a strike threatens a big Louisville employer”

Slime time: In the genteel world of old-money philanthropy, pizza king Schnatter is busting loose

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

When Tom Jurich chases the money John Schnatter gives to charity every year, it’s the ever-prowling cats that pose competition.

No — not those ones. I’m referring to the snow leopard and other big cats at Louisville Zoo, just five miles from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the University of Louisville colossus about to undergo a $55 million renovation that athletics director Jurich wants done in just two years.

Schnatter, 54, loves U of L. He’s donated more than $20 million to the 22,000-student school over the past decade, winning naming rights for his Louisville-based pizza chain for decades to come. (And Schnatter’s a Ball State graduate, to boot.)

Papa John's logoBut he also likes other charities — especially the zoo, according to the most recent IRS tax returns for his John H. Schnatter Family Foundation, which filed its 2015 return only last week. The returns show the foundation gave $111,000 to the zoo in 2012-2015; only one other recipient — U of L — got more, among the dozens of charities Schnatter and his wife Annette support. And that was on top of $1.1 million they donated to the zoo in 2008. To be sure, the zoo was just barely ahead of No. 3 on the foundation’s gift list (keep reading).

The returns offer an inside look at how one of the city’s richest couples — we’re talking $800 million — positions themselves in a pecking order where the right kind of philanthropy is the ticket to top-drawer society. This much is clear: the Schnatters don’t give a flying fig about old-money Louisville. They’re passing on virtually all the usual suspects: the Speed Museum, Actors Theatre, Kentucky Opera, the Fund for the Arts — cultural war horses favored by more established families like the Browns and their 150-year-old whiskey fortune, or the Binghams and their faded media empire from 1918.

Instead, the Schnatters devoted their relatively modest $1.9 million to 86 charities over the four years I examined, focused heavily on helping children and veterans; animal welfare and — crucially, for anxious development officers — advancing John Schnatter’s growing interest in free enterprise and limited government.

But he’s never been old money, anyway.

1980s: bustin’ out

After graduating from Ball State University in 1983, Schnatter started Papa John’s in a broom closet at his father’s tavern, Mike’s Lounge, which he famously saved from ruin with $2,800 he got selling his prized 1972 Camaro. Nearly 32 years and many millions of pies later, he stars in his own TV commercials blanketing the air, proving he’s not above getting dirty to make a sale — literally. In a Sony Pictures marketing tie-in this summer, he played a slimed Ghostbuster pizza delivery guy; that’s a still photo, top of page. (Can you imagine Brown-Forman Chairman George Garvin Brown IV dressed as a dancing mint julep for an Old Forester spot? Neither can I.)

Tom Jurich
Jurich

No matter. Schnatter’s laughing all the way  to the bank. Today, Papa John’s has more than 4,700 restaurants in 38 countries and territories. Its 22,000 employees include 750 in Louisville. And his stake in the $2.8 billion behemoth just soared past $800 million for the first time. That’s a lot of loot that’s arrived relatively fast. On a split-adjusted basis, Papa John’s stock has increased six-fold in the past five years alone. The question over at U of L: How much of that will Jurich wrangle for his $55 million stadium project? Continue reading “Slime time: In the genteel world of old-money philanthropy, pizza king Schnatter is busting loose”

Gannett consolidating jobs at CJ-like hub in Memphis

The Courier-Journal’s owner, Gannett Co., is eliminating a key job — copy editor — as it restructures the newsroom of the recently acquired Memphis Commercial Appeal and consolidates work at a big page production hub in Nashville similar to one in Louisville.

CJ July 25
Yesterday’s CJ.

But the union representing employees at the Memphis daily began challenging the move yesterday, the Memphis Daily News said today. “This job-cutting plan would weaken our final stages of review and fact-checking and outsource much of the work to people in other cities,” Newspaper Guild president Daniel Connolly told employees in a memo.

The guild is also worried that some staffers losing their jobs in the reorganization won’t get severance pay.

In Louisville, Gannett’s hub designs pages for dozens of other newspapers in the chain at a time when the company is expanding dramatically. It’s launched an $864 million hostile takeover of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and nine other dailies. Earlier this month, Gannett bought N.J.’s Bergen Record and other media properties in the state. And in April, the company completed its $280 million purchase of the Memphis paper and 14 other dailies. Including USA Today, Gannett now owns 109 papers in the U.S. and U.K. It bought the CJ from the Bingham family in 1986 after a bitter fight among family members.

Royal ties that bind: Brown-Forman’s Barzun-Bingham connection shined bright in the Brexit shocker

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

The spirits giant Brown-Forman depends on the U.K. for 10% of its annual sales, and the rest of Europe for another 21% — making Britain’s surprise vote to quit the E.U. especially meaningful last month. Brexit also recalled Brown-Forman’s familial ties to the Kingdom through the techie U.S. ambassador Matthew Barzun.

“Well, it’s been a big day,” he Tweeted the day after the June 23 referendum, “and as @POTUS says, our unmatched & unbreakable #SpecialRelationship will endure.”

Barzun, 45, a part-year Louisville resident, is a former technology entrepreneur from the Internet’s early days, becoming only the fourth employee of CNET Networks in 1993. He worked there until 2004 in roles including chief strategy officer and executive vice president, according to his State Department biography.

Barzun has been married to Brown-Forman heiress Brooke Brown Barzun since 1999. Her father was the late Brown-Forman CEO Owsley Brown II, and her mother is Owsley’s widow, the philanthropist Christy Brown.

A fifth-generation Brown

The company is one of Louisville’s most storied businesses. It was founded by Brooke’s great-great grandfather George Garvin Brown in 1870. The distiller employs 1,300 workers in the city and another 3,300 worldwide, where the company distributes Jack Daniel’s, Finlandia vodka and other marquee brands in about 160 countries. Tomorrow, shareholders will hold their annual meeting at the Dixie Highway headquarters; three board members up for re-election also are fifth-generation members of the family controlling the nearly 150-year-old distiller.

The Barzuns’ rarefied social and political connections were on full display in November 2013, when the couple rode in a gilded, horse-drawn carriage to Buckingham Palace to present his credentials to Queen Elizabeth II; photo, top, and in this video:

The Barzuns also entertained the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during a reception last year at the ambassador’s official Winfield House residence in London, shortly before the royals visited Louisville at Christy Brown’s invitation:

Barzuns and Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Matthew and Brooke Barzun.

President Obama handed Continue reading “Royal ties that bind: Brown-Forman’s Barzun-Bingham connection shined bright in the Brexit shocker”

FAA drone rules buzz Amazon; KFC launches smartphone charging gadget, and McD paces Yum with $3B China bids

A news summary, focused on 10 big employers; updated 4:36 p.m.

AMAZON‘s plans to use drones for delivery were slowed yesterday when the Obama Administration released new rules limiting their use, including over urban areas. The Federal Aviation Administration said commercial drones are OK so long as the drone and its payload weigh less than 55 lbs., stays within unaided sight of their pilot, and operators pass a test every two years. In addition, each drone must have its own pilot (Guardian). Also yesterday, Amazon said it’s expanding grocery delivery service to Boston (Boston Inno). The retail giant employs 6,000 employees in the Louisville area, and thousands more across the state.

KFC: In India, the fast-chicken giant has introduced its latest mobile technology to lure younger diners: Watt a Box, a 5-in-1 meal box that comes with a Chicken Zinger, two hot wings, hash browns, a chocolate pie, Pepsi and a 6,100 mAh Lithium-ion battery to charge smartphones. The device isn’t sold, but instead can be won as part of a week-long competition; watch the demo video, above (The Memo). Some customers aren’t so thrilled, however: Testers who charged an iPhone with the box said it only gained 17% battery after charging for half-an-hour, during which time the powerbank became completely drained (Eater).

Meanwhile, in an unusually public spat with an employer, Darrell Hammond — the Saturday Night Live comedian hired to play Colonel Sanders in the new KFC commercials — says the company “played” him into thinking he’d have the gig permanently. He was later replaced by another SNL veteran, Norm Macdonald, in what’s now a running joke of actor switches (Hollywood Reporter). Indeed, it’s part of the script in comedian Jim Gaffigan’s version:

Here are spots by Hammond and MacDonald, who’s none-too-pleased with the switch, either.

YUM: As Yum gears up to spin off its China operations in October, rival McDonald’s has received more than half a dozen bids for its China and Hong Kong stores, including from Beijing Tourism Group, Sanpower and ChemChina, in an auction that could fetch up to $3 billion. In March, McDonalds said it was reorganising its Asian operations by bringing in partners who would own the restaurants within a franchise business (Reuters).

BROWN-FORMAN and other developers Continue reading “FAA drone rules buzz Amazon; KFC launches smartphone charging gadget, and McD paces Yum with $3B China bids”

IrrepressibleWe’re adding this to our reading list, and not only because it’s a terrific way to observe gay pride month: Emily Bingham’s biography “Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham,” which resurrects the life and legend of her ancestor, a woman who was too hot to handle not only in her own times, but for a half-century after, The New York Times said in a “Books of Style” feature shortly before the book was published last year.

“In Bingham’s telling,” the Times says, “Henrietta, who was born in 1901 and died in 1968, ‘caught the wave’ of a rare moment of tolerance for homosexuality and ‘unconventional desires’ in the 1920s.”

Carmichael’s Bookstore, here we come!