Harry J. Sonneborn

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Harry J. Sonneborn
Harold J. Sonneborn

(1916-06-12)June 12, 1916
DiedSeptember 21, 1992(1992-09-21) (aged 76)
OccupationBusiness executive, President of Finances, Tastee-Freez, President McDonald's (1955–1967)
Years active1939–1992
Spouse(s)June (divorced, 2 children)
Aloyis Keister (?–1992, his death)

Harry J. Sonneborn (June 12, 1916 – September 21, 1992) was an American businessman, best known for being the first president and chief executive of McDonald's Corporation.

Life and career[edit]

Sonneborn was born in Indiana, the son of Minnie (Greenbaum) and Mark Harry Joseph.[citation needed] He was adopted and raised by his father's sister, Jeanette (Joseph), and her husband, Louis Sonneborn, in New York City.[1] His family was Jewish.[2]

Work with McDonald's[edit]

A former vice president of finances at Tastee-Freez, Sonneborn approached Ray Kroc with the concept of Kroc owning the land that McDonald outlets were to be built on and then leasing that land to the franchisee. Kroc appointed Sonneborn McDonald's president and chief executive officer in 1959 which he held until he resigned in 1967 due to falling out with Kroc. Kroc had insisted on continuing expansion whereas Sonneborn was conservative with the view that the country was heading into a recession and put a stop on constructing new stores. Kroc took his title afterwards.[3]

Other business interests[edit]

After leaving McDonald's, Sonneborn continued to be involved in the business world through the stock market, capital investments, and banking.[citation needed] He and his wife Aloyis founded several philanthropic foundations.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 2016 film The Founder, the character was portrayed by actor B. J. Novak.

Further reading[edit]

  • Love, John F. (1995). McDonald's: Behind the Arches. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-34759-4.


  1. ^ Sonneborn, Charles Behrend (14 February 1994). "Sonneborn: a celebration of generations". C.B. Sonneborn – via Google Books.
  2. ^ https://forward.com/culture/360991/the-secret-jewish-history-of-mcdonalds/
  3. ^ Kroc, Ray (1977). Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's. p. 253. ISBN 978-1-250-12750-1.

External links[edit]