Sidney Frank

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Sidney Frank
Born(1919-10-02)October 2, 1919
DiedJanuary 10, 2006(2006-01-10) (aged 86)
EducationBrown University

Sidney E. Frank (October 2, 1919 – January 10, 2006) was an American businessman and philanthropist. He became a billionaire through his promotion of Grey Goose vodka and Jägermeister.

Early life, family, education[edit]

Frank was born to a Jewish family[1] in Montville, Connecticut. 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.[2] During World War II, Frank worked for Pratt and Whitney as a manufacturer's representative in India exploring ways to improve engine performance enabling aircraft to deal with the high altitudes encountered in the CBI theater. This was particularly important in improving the performance of transport aircraft flying supplies into China. The use of alcohol injection for aircraft engines was one of the approaches taken.

Business career[edit]

Jagermeister bottle.jpg

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).

In 1973, he secured the importing rights to Jägermeister.[3]

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, Jägermeister became popular with College students In Louisiana and Frank promoted it heavily[4], 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,[5] and was so successful in promoting it that he sold the brand to Bacardi for $2 billion in June 2004. In the last years of his life, Frank bought the Travel Savvy and Business Traveler magazine titles for $4 million.[6]


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[7] and, as a great supporter of R. J. 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 a supporter of the Israel Olympic Committee and has helped to offer scholarships in several Israeli sports.

The Sidney E. Frank Hall for Life Sciences at Brown University

In 2004, Frank gave $100 million to his alma mater Brown University, the largest contribution in Brown's history. The Sidney E. Frank Scholarship funds tuition for around 130 undergraduate students each year.[8][9] Brown University named its new Life Sciences building (the largest capital project to date) after Sidney Frank,[10] the single most generous donor in the university's history.


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.[11][12] 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. She is also an artist and a co-founder of the Tippet Rise Art Center in Montana.


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.


  1. ^ Daily Beast: "The Jews Who Made American Whisky" by Noah Rothbaum December 19, 2015
  2. ^ Renton, Marina (2014-09-30). "Ten years in, Sidney Frank legacy endures in scholarship". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  3. ^ "Jägermeister Tries to Grow Up". Men's Journal. 2015-03-24. Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  4. ^ "Jägermeister Tries to Grow Up". Men's Journal. 2015-03-24. Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  5. ^ Chris Redman (February 20, 2011). "FLYING SKY HIGH: GREY GOOSE VODKA". France Today. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  6. ^ Kelly, Keith J. (2014-06-06). "How Travel Savvy mag survived billionaire owner's death". New York Post. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Sidney E. Frank Scholars". Brown University. Retrieved 4 June 2018. In 2004, Mr. Sidney Frank '42 donated $100 million dollars to the University to support undergraduate financial aid. His gift—the largest contribution in University history—established the Sidney E. Frank Scholarship, which funds tuition for approximately 130 undergraduate students.
  9. ^ "Sidney Frank Scholars" (PDF). Brown University. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Sidney Frank, 86, Dies; Took a German Drink and a Vodka Brand to Stylish Heights". New York Times. January 12, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 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.
  12. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.
  • Seth Schechter. "Martini Wonderland". CreateSpace. April 4, 2015.

External links[edit]