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 Charles J. Luckman

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Charles J. Luckman

  • Birth 16 May 1909 Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA
  • Death 26 Jan 1999 West Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Burial Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Plot Columbarium of Eternal Light, Section 528
  • Memorial ID 44376982

Charles Luckman graduated Magna cum laude from the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois in 1931. Little construction was being done during the Depression, so Charles took a job as a draftsman at Colgate-Palmolive-Peet. He was a Colgate district manager in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a divisional manager in Cincinnati, Ohio, before being hired as sales promotion manager for Pepsodent on 25 Sep 1935. Within four years at Pepsodent, Charles was promoted to vice president and general manager, executive vice president, then president in 1939 at the age of 30. The Pepsodent Company was purchased in 1944 by the Lever Brothers Company of Massachusetts, a subsidiary of the Netherlands Lever Brothers and Unilever, N.V. Charles became president of Lever Brothers on July 1, 1945. In 1946, he was on the cover of the June 10 edition of TIME magazine, which included an article entitled "Old Empire, New Prince."

In the Friday, 25 Sep 1947 European Edition of Stars and Stripes, President Harry Truman announced that Charles Luckman, president of Lever Brothers, would head a new food conservation committee to aid in famine relief for war-torn, European nations. In a Tuesday, 7 Oct 1947 European Edition of Stars and Stripes, a "Meatless" day was urged by President Truman. It was reported that on the previous evening of October 6, Charles Luckman, chairman of the U.S. Citizens' Food Committee, along with President Truman, were the first to televise a broadcast directly from the White House. As part of the food conservation campaign, Charles is credited with creating "Meatless Tuesday" and "Eggless/Poultry-less Thursday," which led to a cut in U.S. grain consumption by 100 million bushels. For his work, Charles was awarded with Britain's Order of St. John, France's Legion of Honor, and Italy's Star of Solidarity.

In 1948, Charles was the recipient of an award by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. The Association honors outstanding U.S. citizens for overcoming adversity to achieve success and provides scholarships for individuals pursuing their dreams through higher education.

In the 14 Aug 1950 Berkshire Evening Eagle, it reports that Charles Luckman has returned to his first love-architecture. The article states that he is joining an old University of Illinois classmate, William Pereira, in the firm of Pereira and Luckman architects and engineers, with headquarters in Los Angeles. The 50-50 partnership was also reported in the Monday, 21 Aug 1950 TIME magazine in an article entitled, "Reunion in Los Angeles," stating that the firm specializes in commercial and institutional structures with $25 million dollars of business on hand.

It was reported in the Monday, 8 Dec 1958 edition of TIME magazine that Charles Luckman bought out his partner, William Pereira, and that each would form his own West Coast architectural business.

Charles Luckman retired in 1977, and the firm was passed to his son, James Luckman. The firm became known as The Luckman Partnership, with all operations performed in the original Los Angeles office. James Luckman retired in 1991 and leadership of the firm was assumed by his partners, Roger Chikhani and Fredrick Yerou.

According to a 14 Sep 1987 Los Angeles Business Journal article, Charles lived in a penthouse atop Luckman Plaza, his 13-story office headquarters at 9200 and 9220 Sunset Boulevard. He is quoted as saying, "we have terraced the area surrounding the penthouse, and my wife of 56 years (Harriet) can grow corn, tomatoes, strawberries and other vegetables....we feel very lucky that after a day of work I can just take the elevator up and we can have a drink and a view of the city."

Charles wrote his autobiography entitled "Twice in a Lifetime, from Soap to Skyscrapers," which was published in 1988 by W.W. Norton and Company.

In 1994, Charles dedicated the Charles and Harriet Luckman Fine Arts Complex at California State University in East Los Angeles, which was established with his donation of $2.1 million dollars.

The death of Charles Luckman was reported in several publications; the 27 Jan 1999 Los Angeles Times, the 28 Jan 1999 New York Times, and the Monday, 8 Feb 1999 TIME magazine, which stated: "DIED-Charles Luckman, 89, entrepreneur and architect who designed Madison Square Garden and Florida's Kennedy Space Center; in Los Angles. Trained in architecture, Luckman first made his name (and the cover of TIME) selling soap as a sales manager at Pepsodent, and then returned to his first love after commissioning Lever House, one of Manhattan's first glass skyscrapers."


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  • Created by: M. Paul Swim
  • Added: 15 Nov 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 44376982
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Charles J. Luckman (16 May 1909–26 Jan 1999), Find A Grave Memorial no. 44376982, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale), Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by M. Paul Swim (contributor 47124028) .