Meshulam Riklis

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Meshulam Riklis
Born (1923-12-02) December 2, 1923 (age 94)
Istanbul, Turkey
Nationality Israeli
Occupation Businessman
Spouse(s) Judith Stern (1940s-1970s)
Pia Zadora (1977-1993)
Tali Sinai (2010- )
Children with Stern:
--Simona Riklis Ackerman (deceased)
--Marcia Riklis
--Ira Riklis
with Zadora:
--Kady Riklis
--Kristofer Riklis

Meshulam Riklis (Hebrew: משולם ריקליס‎; born December 2, 1923) is an Israeli businessman.

Early years[edit]

Born in Istanbul, Riklis grew up in Tel Aviv before coming to the United States in 1947 with his first wife, Judith Stern, with whom he has three children: Simona (Mona), Marcia, and Ira. He studied mathematics at Ohio State University, graduating in 1950. His first significant job was as a junior stock analyst for the Minneapolis investment firm Piper Jaffray.

Business career[edit]

Riklis is credited with originating complicated paper transactions like high-yield bonds and leveraged buyouts to take over control of major companies, then doing paper switches of the assets into companies he owned. His first significant foray was the creation in 1966[1] of the Rapid-American Corporation by combining his significant stake in Rapid Electrotype Company, a platemaking concern with the American Colortype Company, a maker of stereoview lithographs and dollhouse furniture. Tracing the history of Rapid American Corporation[2] and its renamed form Glen Alden Corporation, one can find the succession of acquisitions Riklis used to create his financial empire, including McCrory Stores, Leeds Travelware,[3] Gruen Watch Company, Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, Aunt Nellie's Farm Kitchens, Bargain Time, Beatrice Foods, Canadian retailer Dylex, Culligan International, Fabergé Cosmetics, J. J. Newberry stores, Lerner Shops, Lawry's Meat Specialties, Martha White Foods, Odd Lot Trading, International Playtex, the Riviera hotel and casino in Las Vegas, RKO-Stanley Warner Theatres, Samsonite, Schenley Industries, the one-time American distributor of Dewar's whisky.[4]

After his financial empire was well established, he returned to Ohio State to complete his acquisition of a Master's Degree in Finance. His degree thesis, titled "Expansion through Financial Management" and based on his career, discussed "the effective use, or rather non-use, of cash." [5] At the height of his financial success, he claimed in an interview with the Los Angeles Times to have a reported net worth of a "billion dollars."[6]

One of the many shells and holding companies he bought in the process of building the empire was E-II Holdings, in which the other investors later discovered he had placed the names of impressive companies, but not the assets. Among the investors in E-II was Carl Icahn. These investors revolted on Riklis and started seizing other properties in the financial empire.[7][8]

Many of the corporations declared bankruptcy, again carefully maneuvered by Riklis to preserve his personal wealth. He famously sold his stake in the Carnival Cruise Line to Ted Arison for US$1 (while the company was US$5 million in debt).[9] In the early 1980s, he hired Jeffrey Silver and then Boston accountant, Arthur Waltzman to take over as CEO of his then struggling Vegas landmark Riviera Hotel and Casino and rescue it from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[citation needed] He also brought on board 25-year Playboy Enterprises executive, Sam Distefano to head the resort's entertainment department and personally hire its celebrity headliners for ten years.[10] Forbes Magazine reported that while at the helm of a string of his companies, Riklis left his creditors unpaid for over US$2.9 billion in debt. According to Forbes, less than 10% of this had been recovered as of 2007.[11] Riklis donated US$1,000 to the presidential campaign of Joseph Biden.[12] In March 2013 Riklis filed for bankruptcy protection for Rapid-American Corp because of asbestos related personal injury claims brought against Rapid American through their subsidiary Philip Carey Manufacturing.[13]

Personal life[edit]

After divorcing his first wife, the 53-year-old Riklis was married to the then 23-year-old Pia Zadora on September 18, 1977. They had two children, Kady and Kristofer.[14][15] Riklis then financed the movie Butterfly, starring Zadora. Her acting in the film was lampooned by comedians and professional critics,[16] winning her the Razzie Award for Worst Actress, but she also won the Golden Globe Award as New Star of the Year[17] after a well publicized press junket paid for by Riklis, also hosted at his own Riviera Hotel.[18] Riklis and Zadora then bought and demolished one of Beverly Hills' best known landmarks, Pickfair Manor, the former home of silent movie legends Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, to build a larger home on the site. They lived there until they divorced in 1993.[15] In 2010, at 86 years of age, Riklis married his third wife, Tali Sinai, who was almost 40 years his junior.[19] In 2012, his daughter, advice columnist Simona Riklis Ackerman died.[14]


  1. ^ "Company Overview of Rapid-American Corp". Bllomberg. Retrieved April 5, 2018. 
  2. ^ iPad iPhone Android TIME TV Populist The Page (1960-06-06). "CORPORATIONS: The Rapid Riser". TIME. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  3. ^ "Leeds Travelwear, a division of Rapid-American Corporation - US Patent Assignee - PatentStorm". Archived from the original on 2012-10-07. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  4. ^ "Meshulam Riklis". Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  5. ^ Riklis, Meshulam (1966). Expansion Through Financial Management Case Studies (MBA). The Ohio State University. p. 76. Retrieved June 13, 2015. 
  6. ^ Michael A. Hiltzik (August 17, 1986). "A Borrowed Empire : Meshulam Riklis, Known to Most of the World as Mr. Pia Zadora, Is a Model for Today's Corporate Raiders, a Controversial Tycoon Who Built a Financial Kingdom on Debt". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 19, 2015. 
  7. ^ Stephanie Strom (1993-05-26). "COMPANY NEWS; E-II Holdings Wins Fight For Reorganization Plan". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  8. ^ "Riklis Family Corporation - Company Snapshot". Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "[1]". Los Angeles Times, September 28, 1990. Accessed December 19, 2015.
  11. ^ Nathan Vardi (2000-02-03). "Magazine Article". Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Rapid-American Files Bankruptcy Citing Asbestos Liability". 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  14. ^ a b New York Times: "Mona Ackerman, Advice Columnist, Dies at 66" By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK December 5, 2012
  15. ^ a b The Daily Mail: "EXCLUSIVE: From Penthouse to Prison: How Broadway star Pia Zadora's racy pictures are a far cry from her arrest for 'choking' her teenage son" by Sara Nathan July 3, 2013
  16. ^ Archived May 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  18. ^ Bernard Weinraub (1993-02-08). "First Comes a Junket, Then a Golden Globe; Hollywood Is Buzzing - New York Times". Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  19. ^ Archived January 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

  1. Bio of Meshulam Riklis at