|Born||October 2, 1919|
|Died||January 10, 2006(aged 86)|
Early life, family, education
Frank was born in Montville, Connecticut, to a Jewish family. His father and mother were Abraham and Sarah Frank. He grew up in Norwich, Connecticut, and graduated from the Norwich Free Academy in 1937. He attended Brown University (class of 1942) but left because he could only afford one year of tuition. He later made enormous gifts to the university to ensure that no student would ever be forced to leave Brown because of inability to pay tuition. Brown University named its new Life Sciences building (its largest capital project up to date) after Sidney Frank, the single most generous donor in the university's history. During World War II, Frank worked for Pratt and Whitney as an aircraft engine mechanic in the South Pacific.
Frank's first wife, Louise Rosenstiel, was the daughter of Lewis Rosenstiel, founder of Schenley Industries, one of the largest American distiller and spirit importers. Frank joined Schenley after his marriage and rose to the company presidency, but was forced out in a family dispute in 1970.
In 1973 his wife died and he started his own company, Sidney Frank Importing Company, where he served as chairman and chief executive officer. The company is based in New Rochelle, New York where Frank lived (he had a home in Rancho Santa Fe, California as well).
Frank's first big success with his own company was with Jacques Cardin brandy, a brand he purchased from Seagram in 1979. In the 1980s, he obtained importing rights to Jägermeister and promoted it heavily, advertising it as the best drink in the world, turning a specialty brand into a mainstream success. In 1997, he developed Grey Goose vodka, made in France by François Thibault, and was so successful in promoting it that he sold the brand to Bacardi for $2 billion in June 2004.
Frank gave large bonuses to his employees and made both a $12 million donation to The Norwich Free Academy and a $120 million donation to Brown University in 2005, the ninth-largest philanthropic gift in that year. Forbes magazine ranked him the 185th richest man in America in its Forbes 400 list. In October 2005, Frank donated £500,000 and a statue by sculptor Stephen Kettle to Bletchley Park Trust to fund a new Science Center dedicated to Alan Turing and, as a great supporter of RJ Mitchell's Spitfire, commissioned a life size statue of Mitchell as well as funding a website dedicated to Mitchell's life: RJ Mitchell. A life in aviation.
His foundation has been one of the biggest supporters of the Israel Olympic Committee and has helped to pay for improvements in several Israeli sports.
Frank died January 10, 2006 on a private plane in flight between San Diego, California and Vancouver, British Columbia at the age of 86 from heart failure. He was declared dead in San Francisco, California. On his plane were several nurses and medical doctors as well as a defibrillator, but he could not be revived. He is buried in the Rosenstiel family plot at United Jewish Cemeteries in Cincinnati. His daughter Cathy Frank Halstead is currently chairwoman of Sidney Frank Importing Company.
Cathy Frank figured prominently in a highly publicized case regarding her grandfather's will that led to the disbarment of the controversial lawyer Roy Cohn. In 1975, Cohn entered the hospital room of a dying and comatose Rosenstiel, forced a pen to his hand and lifted it to the will in an attempt to make himself and Cathy Frank beneficiaries. The resulting marks were determined in court to be indecipherable and in no way a valid signature. In 1986 Cohn was disbarred for unethical and unprofessional conduct in the case, as well as misappropriation of clients' funds and lying on a bar application.
Sidney Frank, and his son Matthew Frank, also sued the Rosenstiel estate, each in a separate action.
- Chris Redman (February 20, 2011). "FLYING SKY HIGH: GREY GOOSE VODKA". France Today. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
- "Sidney Frank, 86, Dies; Took a German Drink and a Vodka Brand to Stylish Heights". New York Times. January 12, 2006.
Sidney E. Frank, who was forced to leave Brown University as a freshman when his money ran out, went on to concoct spectacularly successful marketing campaigns for Jägermeister liqueur and Grey Goose vodka, then became so rich he gave Brown its biggest gift ever, died Tuesday in San Diego. He was 86. His death was announced by the Sidney Frank Importing Company.
- Diane Brady. "The Wily Fox Behind Grey Goose". Business Week. September 20, 2004. 71, 73.
- Frank J. Prial. "The Seller of the Goose That Laid a Golden Egg". The New York Times. January 1, 2005. C1, C2.
- Matthew Miller. "The Bartender". Forbes. October 11, 2004. 68.