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Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Italian-American Heritage Month: Lee Iacocca
When Lee Iacocca said "I gotta tell 'ya . . " America listened. Incredibly, this feisty, highly-competitive business exec became the only person to lead two of the Big Three American automakers. Iacocca himself often told of the classic rags-to-riches journey that led him to become one of the most celebrated executives of his era. Born Lido Iacocca to a hot dog vendor who was decimated by the Great Depression, he took an engineering degree to a sales position with Ford and, after introducing the wildly popular Mustang in 1964, became president of the company just six years later. Iacocca was gutsy, inimitable and on top ope the world -- until he was fired by chairman Henry Ford II in 1978. That didn't stop Lido. No way! Iacocca then embarked on an equally impressive second act by taking over as CEO of the floundering Chrysler Corporation. Instantly, his friendly visage filled the role of commercial pitchman as he dug the company out of debt and cemented his standing as what one writer described as "the nation's economic Winston Churchill." Iacocca was a visionary who was so compelling that, after he headed the hugely successful drive to restore the Statue of Liberty in time for its centennial, some people wanted him to become President of the United States. One thing's for sure: by then everybody knew how not pronounce his name!
Part of a month long series spotlighting a different accomplished Italian American every day during Italian American Heritage Month.