The 1960s Business and the Economy: Headline Makers

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The 1960s Business and the Economy: Headline Makers

Mary Kay Ash
Cesar Chavez
James Ling
Ralph Nader
H. Ross Perot
An Wang

Mary Kay Ash (c.1915–2001) A divorcée and mother of three, Mary Kay Ash entered the workforce out of necessity. A sales position with Stanley Home Products, in which she demonstrated the company's merchandise in people's homes, started her off on a career that culminated in her establishing her own company, Beauty by Mary Kay (soon changed to Mary Kay Cosmetics), in 1963. Her "beauty consultants" organized house parties for women, where they offered beauty tips and make-up lessons and sold a line of Mary Kay cosmetics. Sales rose from $198,000 in 1964 to $800,000 the following year. By 1968, annual sales had topped $10 million.

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Cesar Chavez (1927–1993) Cesar Chavez first became a political organizer during the 1950s by arranging nonviolent marches and economic boycotts to focus national attention on the plight of Mexican American migrant workers. He was general director of the Community Service Organization (CSO), a California-based self-help social service group. When CSO rejected his idea of organizing farm workers into a union, Chavez bolted and created the United Farm Workers Association, which later merged with an AFL-CIO affiliate, becoming what eventually was known as the United Farm Workers of America (UFW).

James Ling (1922–) James Ling founded Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV), one of the 1960s most diversified conglomerates. Just after World War II, he established the Ling Electric Company, which specialized in residential electrical wiring. He expanded the company throughout the 1950s by acquiring other companies, including Temco Electronics, an electronic-reconnaissance equipment manufacturer, and Chance Vought, a producer of aircraft. All these holdings were united, resulting in LTV. In 1965, Fortune magazine dubbed LTV the fastest-expanding company in the United States. However, two decades later, in the wake of a downward-spiraling economy and heavy debt load, LTV filed for bankruptcy.

Ralph Nader (1934–) Over the decades, Ralph Nader and his staff of "Nader's Raiders" have been America's leading consumer advocates. Nader first gained the national spotlight in 1965 with his best-selling book, Unsafe at Any Speed, in which he criticized General Motors for marketing a car, the Chevrolet Corvair, which had acknowledged safety defects. In the 2000 presidential election, Nader ran on the Green Party ticket. His refusal to exit the race, despite the certainty of his defeat, is believed to have cost Democrat Al Gore (1948–) the crucial votes he needed to defeat Republican George W. Bush (1946–).

H. Ross Perot (1930–) H. Ross Perot first carved out a career as a successful business entrepreneur. A former top salesman at IBM, he established Electronic Data Systems (EDS), a computer-service company, in 1962. Six years later, he took the firm public (offered shares of company stock for sale) and emerged a billionaire. Perot later became the largest stockholder in General Motors and a member of its board of directors. He also made headlines in the late-1960s for his unsuccessful efforts to rescue American prisoners-of-war from Vietnam.

An Wang (1920–1990) In 1948, An Wang received a Ph.D. in applied physics from Harvard. He correctly foresaw the growth potential inherent in the then-infant computer industry and, in 1951, founded his own firm, Wang Laboratories. In the 1950s and 1960s and beyond, Wang Laboratories was at the cutting edge of electronics technology. Among its more popular innovations was the first electronic sports stadium scoreboard, installed at Shea Stadium in New York. Wang also personally held more than thirty-five patents relating to computer technology.

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The 1960s Business and the Economy: Headline Makers

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The 1960s Business and the Economy: Headline Makers