Businessman. He is best remembered for his trademark bowtie, thick black glasses, and his folksy manner in television commercials of the 1960s and 1970s, where he advertised his "Orville Redenbacher Gourmet Popping Corn". Born in Brazil, Indiana, he was the third child and only son of a general farmer in Clay County, Indiana. In 1924, he graduated from Brazil High School, and attended Purdue University, graduating four years later with a Bachelor's Degree in agronomy. He spent most of his life in the agriculture business, working first as the Vigo County Farm Bureau Extension Agent out of Terre Haute, Indiana, and later on the Princeton Farms in Princeton, Indiana, in the fertilizer industry. In his spare time, he bought the "George F. Chester and Son" dent seed corn Plant near Valparaiso, Indiana, and with partner Charlie Bowman, began selling corn seed to farmers. There he began to work on a side project of his, making a better popping corn. Over the next several years, he developed over ten thousand varieties of hybrid popcorn before he obtained what he considered the best "popping corn." Initially, he wanted to market the new popcorn as "Red Bow," but an advertising agency suggested he market it under his own name, Orville Redenbacher. The Orville Redenbacher Gourmet Popping Corn was established in 1964, and has been a extremely successful selling product since. To promote his product, he would appear on his own television commercials, and quickly became a cult figure. Many people would write the company, wanting to know if Orville Redenbacher really existed or was just a marketing ploy. In 1976, he sold the company and trademark name to Hunt Wesson Foods, and over the years, it was repurchased several times, eventually ending up in 1990 with ConAgra. A multimillionaire, Redenbacher retired and moved with his family to Coronado, California. In 1979, the city of Valparaiso, Indiana, began an annual Popcorn Festival, with Redenbacher serving as the first Grand Marshal of the Popcorn Parade. In 1995, at age 88, he was found dead in his Jacuzzi at his home in Coronado, California, apparently having drowned after suffering a heart attack. Following a funeral service, his body was cremated and the ashes scattered at sea.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson