SIMON, NORTON (1907–1993), U.S. industrialist. Simon was born in Portland, Oregon. His business career began in 1932 when he bought a small food-packing plant. He developed his company into Hunt Foods Inc., which by 1943 had become one of the largest food-processing businesses on the West Coast. From this modest start, he developed a rapidly expanding diversified industrial complex, the holding company Norton Simon Inc., which included food processing and packaging, container manufacturing, soft drink industries, printing, and publishing, such as McCalls Publishing, The Saturday Review of Literature, Max Factor, Canada Dry, and Avis Car Rental. In 1969 Simon resigned as director and finance committee member of the holding company to concentrate on his cultural and educational interests through several foundations, mainly established to acquire and display works of art, to provide scholarships, and to support various charities. One major program of the foundations was the loan of art to public museums and universities. The *Duveen collection is centered on the Old Masters; other collections include paintings, drawings, and sculpture of the 19th and 20th centuries.
In 1974, seeking a permanent home for his collection, he was approached by the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, of which he ultimately assumed control and the naming rights. Today, the Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena has an extensive permanent collection of Western and Asian art, and promotes art education through special exhibitions, tours, and lectures.
Simon was married to actress Jennifer Jones from 1971.
D. Mahoney, Growth and Social Responsibility: The Story of Norton Simon Inc. (1973).
[Joachim O. Ronall /
Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]