John D. Hertz
John D. Hertz
April 10, 1879
|Died||October 8, 1961 (aged 82)|
|Board member of||General Motors|
Born Schandor Herz[dubious ] to a Jewish family in Szklabinya, Austria-Hungary (today Sklabiňa, a village in modern-day Martin, Slovakia). His family emigrated to Chicago when he was five.
As a young man, Hertz Jr. was an amateur boxer, fighting under the name "Dan Donnelly." He won amateur championships at the Chicago Athletic Association and eventually began to box under his own name. He lived at 880 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Hertz had extensive and complex business interests, mainly in the transport sector.
Hertz's first job was selling newspapers, and eventually he became a reporter for the Chicago Morning News. When the paper, then called the Chicago Record, merged with another paper, he lost his job. Although he couldn't drive, in 1904 he found a job selling cars at the suggestion of a friend. Because of the number of trade-ins, he conceived a cab company with low prices so the common man could afford to use them. In 1907, he had a fleet of seven used cars employed as cabs.
He founded the Yellow Cab Company in Chicago in 1915, which offered taxicab service at a modest price. The distinctive yellow cabs became popular and were quickly franchised throughout the United States. He then founded the Chicago Motor Coach Company in 1917 to operate bus transport services in Chicago and the Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company in 1920 to manufactured taxicabs for sale. In 1923, he founded the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company to manufacture coaches and later cars. In 1924, he acquired a rental car business, renaming it Hertz Drive-Ur-Self Corporation.
By 1925, the Yellow Cab Company was owned by the "Chicago Yellow Cab Company," which in turn was owned by Hertz, Parmelee and some other investors. In that year he established The Omnibus Corporation to control both the Chicago Motor Coach Company and the Fifth Avenue Coach Company in New York.
In 1925, Hertz held these positions:
- President of the Yellow Cab Company
- Chairman Benzoline Motor Fuel Company
- Chairman Chicago Motor Coach Company
- Chairman Fifth Avenue Coach Company
- Chairman New York Transportation Company
- Chairman Omnibus Corporation of America
- Chairman Yellow Sleeve-Valve Engine Works
- Chairman Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company
In 1926, he sold a majority share in Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company together with its subsidiaries, Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company and "Hertz Drive-Ur-Self," to General Motors. With the sale, Hertz joined GM's board of directors.
He then sold his remaining interest in the Yellow Cab Company in 1929 following the firebombing of his stables, where 11 horses were killed.
In 1933, Robert Lehman sold Hertz a minority interest in Lehman Brothers investment bank in New York City and he remained a member of the firm until his death. In 1938, Hertz was prepared to buy Eastern Air Lines from General Motors but the airline's General Manager, Eddie Rickenbacker, was able to raise sufficient financing to acquire Eastern before Hertz could exercise his option. In 1943, he sold his remaining financial interest in Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company to General Motors.
Using The Omnibus Corporation he re-purchased the car rental business from General Motors in 1953. The Omnibus Corporation then divested itself of its public transport interests, changed its name to The Hertz Corporation and floated on the New York Stock Exchange the following year.
In 1903, he married Francis (Fannie) Kesner of Chicago with whom he had three children: Leona Jane, John Jr., and Helen. His son was born Leonard J. Hertz and changed his name at the age of seventeen to John D. Hertz, Jr. in honor of his father; John Jr. later became an advertising executive and was briefly married (1942–44) to film star Myrna Loy.
Thoroughbred horse racing
John and Fannie Hertz were major figures in Thoroughbred horse racing. They owned a horse farm at Trout Valley near Cary, Illinois, another known as Amarillo Ranch in Woodland Hills, California. Stoner Creek Stud near Paris, Kentucky, became their most important breeding and training center. Raced in the name of Fannie Hertz, among her top horses were the 1928 Kentucky Derby winner and American Horse of the Year, Reigh Count, who sired Count Fleet, winner of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing in 1943. Both horses were inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
During the Cold War era, Hertz established the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation with the purpose of supporting bright young minds in the applied sciences. Friend Edward Teller urged Hertz to orient his foundation to fund higher education. The Hertz Foundation Fellowship program is the nation's most selective; typically more than 800 applicants vie for ten to twelve fellowships, which provide full tuition and a generous stipend at top U.S. research universities. For his significant contribution to the security of the U.S., Hertz received the highest civilian award given by the Department of Defense in 1958.
Hertz died on October 8, 1961. His wife died two years later. They were originally buried together in the Rosehill Cemetery (Chicago, Illinois). Their remains are now interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City.
- Vasilko, Tomáš (October 6, 2017). "Z ulice to dotiahol až na vrchol. Ako zabudnutý rodák od Martina vybudoval v Amerike taxikárske impérium" (in Slovak). SME.
- "John Daniel Hertz". University of Pittsburgh Slovak Studies Program. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
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- HERTZ GIVES FUND FOR SCHOLARSHIPS; Transport Fortune to Train Engineers for Defense of Nation He Adopted Focusing on Those in Need, New York Times, Sept. 20, 1957 
- Kelly, CT. "Desperate Acts of Capitalism 33. Hertz and the Taxi Wars". Retrieved 8 August 2020.
- "Gas-Electric Motorbus Co., Roland Gas-Electric Vehicle Co., New York Motor Bus Co.,..." Coachbuilt.
1925 - Hertz is today president of the Yellow Cab Company; chairman of the board of the Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company; chairman of the Omnibus Corporation of America; chairman of the Chicago Motor Coach Company; chairman of the Fifth Avenue Coach Company; chairman of the New York Transportation Company; chairman of the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company; chairman of the Yellow Sleeve-Valve Engine Works, Inc.; and chairman of the Benzoline Motor Fuel Company
- "Hertz". Coachbuild.
- Damian Kidder, Lisa (July 28, 2008). Trout Valley, the Hertz Estate, and Curtiss Farm. Arcadia Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 9780738561608.
- Losey, Pamela J.; Beene, Shirley J. (January 3, 2011). Cary & Fox River Grove. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781439625798.
- "Convention Sessions of United Synagogue Closed in Baltimore". Jewish Telegraph Agency. April 22, 1926.
Leonard J. Hertz, 17 year-old son of John D. Hertz, of Chicago, head of the Yellow Cab Company, became John D. Hertz, Jr.
- Watkins, Nancy (2007-11-25). "Golden opportunity". Chicago Tribune Magazine. p. 31.
- "John D. Hertz Is Dead on Coast. Led Yellow Cab and Rent-a-Car. Founder of 2 Concerns Was 82 -- Owned Noted Horses, Including Count Fleet". Associated Press in the New York Times. October 10, 1960. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
- "John Hertz's Widow Dies at 82 in Florida". Chicago Tribune. February 5, 1963. Retrieved 2010-12-11.