Donald M. Kendall

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Donald M. Kendall
Donald Mcintosh Kendall

(1921-03-16) March 16, 1921 (age 97)
OccupationBusinessman, political adviser

Donald Mcintosh "Don" Kendall (born March 16, 1921) is a former businessman and political adviser. He is a former CEO of Pepsi Cola (which merged with Herman Lay's Frito Lay, Inc. to become PepsiCo in 1965) and served as CEO of PepsiCo from 1971 to 1986.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Clallam County, Washington, where his family owned a dairy farm, in 1921.

Military Service[edit]

In 1942 he joined the US Navy. As a bomber pilot he assisted in the Landings at Manila Bay, Mindoro and Leyte Gulf. He was awarded 3 Air Medals and a Distinguished Flying Cross.


Kendall attended Western Kentucky State College. He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree from Stetson University, DeLand, Florida; an Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree from Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts; and a Doctor of Law from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Kendall also received Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New York; Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York; the State University of New York (SUNY) Purchase; and Long Island University, Brookville, New York.[1]

Pepsi Cola, Inc.[edit]

He joined Pepsi Cola Company as a sales representative and rose through the sales ranks becoming a marketing vice president in 1956. He headed up Pepsi's international operation in 1957 and became president in 1963. In 1963, he made the decision to change the name of Pepsi's diet soda from Patio Diet Cola to Diet Pepsi. In the early years of diet soft drinks, Pepsi became the first major soda manufacturer to give its diet product the same name as its flagship product.[citation needed]

Kendall brought Pepsi to Russia and was awarded the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, in 2004. He oversaw the creation of the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens, a sculpture park that includes gardens, trails and parks a collection of art, primarily 20th century sculpture including works by Rodin, Wynn and Calder, at PepsiCo's corporate headquarters in Purchase, New York.[citation needed]

Board Memberships[edit]

Kendall has sat on numerous corporate boards including the Director of Enfrastructure, Inc.,, AmRest Holdings SE, National Alliance of Businessmen, and Grocery Manufacturers of America, Inc.[2] He is also the main investor of American Giant, a clothing manufacturing company.[3]


In 1970, he requested and participated in a high level meeting of Chilean businessman and publisher Augustin Edwards Eastman with high Nixon administration officials, after which President Nixon met with then-National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and CIA Director Richard Helms and, in the words of a 1976 New York Times article, said "that Chile was to be saved from Allende and he didn't care much how."[4]

According to The Guardian:

"...the October 1970 plot against Chile's President-elect Salvador Allende ... was the direct result of a plea for action a month earlier by Donald Kendall, chairman of PepsiCo, in two telephone calls to the company's former lawyer, President Richard Nixon. Kendall arranged for the owner of the company's Chilean bottling operation to meet National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger on September 15. Hours later, Nixon called in his CIA chief, Richard Helms, and, according to Helms's handwritten notes, ordered the CIA to prevent Allende's inauguration."[5]

Joan Crawford[edit]

He had a stormy professional relationship with actress Joan Crawford, who referred to Kendall as "Fang" until her death in 1977. Crawford gained a seat on the board of directors of Pepsi Cola Company after the death of her husband Alfred Steele who was Pepsi's Chairman of the Board, in 1959. She was active in promoting Pepsi-Cola, traveling both nationally and internationally for events such as plant openings and new product promotions. In 1973, when Crawford officially turned 65 (she was actually between two and four years older), she was forcibly retired from her position on the company's Board of Directors.[citation needed]

Richard Nixon[edit]

Kendall was well acquainted with Richard Nixon and was photographed with Nixon as Vice President, and with Nikita Khrushchev during Nixon's Moscow trip known for the Kitchen Debate. During the Nixon administration Pepsi Cola was always a prominent beverage at White House functions. A conversation between Kendall and Nixon in the oval office appears in the second volume of the Watergate tapes. Kendall is heard offering advice to Nixon on how to handle his difficult situation. He later told an interviewer that he was "disappointed" at the way Nixon handled Watergate. "How could you help but be?"[6]


  1. ^ Profile and biodata of Donald M. Kendall Archived January 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Donald M. Kendall, Sr. - Co-Founder at PepsiCo, Inc". Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  3. ^ Wohlsen, Marcus. "The Internet's Most Famous Hoodie Is Back — But What Took So Long?". WIRED. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  4. ^ Russ Baker, Family of Secrets (Bloomsbury Press, 2009), p. 187.
  5. ^ Palast, Gregory (November 8, 1998). "A Marxist threat to cola sales? Pepsi demands a US coup. Goodbye Allende. Hello Pinochet". The Guardian. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
  6. ^ Arthur M. Louis, The Tycoons (Simon & Schuster, 1981), p. 92.