Henry Salvatori (March 28, 1901 – July 7, 1997) was an American geophysicist, businessman, philanthropist, and political activist. Salvatori founded Western Geophysical in 1933 and, after selling the company in 1960, pursued a second career as a philanthropist and conservative political activist. He was a long-time financial supporter of the Heritage Foundation and the Claremont Institute, two conservative think tanks.
Background and business career
Salvatori was born in Tocco da Casauria, Abruzzo region, Italy, and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1906. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1923 and a master's degree in physics from Columbia University in 1926. In 1930, he joined Geophysical Service Incorporated, but he left in 1933 to found Western Geophysical.
Western Geophysical prospered, allowing him to begin a long involvement in philanthropy and conservative political causes. In 1960, he sold Western Geophysical to Litton Industries, allowing him to devote more time to politics.
Philanthropy and activism
Having already been a founding stockholder of National Review magazine in the 1950s, Salvatori pursued a second career as a philanthropist and conservative political activist after selling Western Geophysical in 1960.
In 1962, he convinced the staunchly conservative Joe Shell, Richard M. Nixon's intraparty rival for governor, to endorse Nixon in the general election in order to promote party unity. Nixon, however, lost to the Democrat Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, Sr. In 1964, Salvatori chaired Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign in California. He convinced Goldwater to allow Ronald Reagan to give a televised fundraising speech entitled "A Time for Choosing", the speech that launched Reagan's political career. Later, Salvatori was one of Reagan's initial supporters for governor of California, having served as state finance chairman for his 1966 campaign and as part of Reagan's "kitchen cabinet". Salvatori was the campaign director for Sam Yorty during Yorty's 1969 mayoral primary campaign against Tom Bradley.
Salvatori and his wife, the former Grace Ford, also made significant contributions to civic and educational institutions, including the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Claremont McKenna College, the University of Southern California, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, Pepperdine University, and Boston University. In 1969 he established the Henry Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World at Claremont McKenna College. Later, in 1990, he established the Henry Salvatori Foundation, whose acts include the endowment of a chair (the Henry Salvatori Professorship in American Values and Traditions) at Chapman University, another chair at Chapman University School of Law (the "Henry Salvatori Professorship in Law & Community Service," currently held by John Eastman) and the 1996 endowment of a Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship, awarded annually by the Heritage Foundation.
Salvatori's grandson Ford O'Connell carries on the family's legacy in conservative politics.
- "Yorty Campaign Reorganized; Henry Salvatori Takes Charge," KENNETH REICH, Los Angeles Times, Apr 15, 1969
- THE SALVATORI CENTER
- Henry Salvatori
- Los Angeles Times, 12 December 1994, $250,000 Gift Will Be Used to Fund U.S. Studies Chair
- Hoover Institution, What's New At Heritage, March 1, 1996 policy review » no. 75
- Young America’s Foundation - A Timeline of Our History
- Doti, James L. "Henry Salvatori - A Man of Integrity". Archived from the original on December 15, 2005. Retrieved December 8, 2005.
- "Henry Salvatori". Retrieved December 8, 2005. Biography at SEG Virtual Museum.
- "Henry Salvatori". Retrieved December 8, 2005. Biography at Salvatori Center, Claremont-McKenna College.
- Who's Who in the West (A.N. Marquis Co., 1963), page 601