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John D. Hertz

john d. hertz, john d. hertz pencil artist
John Daniel Hertz, Sr April 10, 1879 – October 8, 1961 was an American businessman, thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder, and philanthropist


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Business career
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 Thoroughbred horse racing
  • 5 Philanthropy
  • 6 Death
  • 7 References


Born Sándor Herz in Sklabiňa, a village near Martin, Slovakia1 His family emigrated to Chicago when he was five

As a young man, Hertz Jr was an amateur boxer, fighting under the name "Dan Donnelly"1 He won amateur championships at the Chicago Athletic Association and eventually began to box under his own name He lived at 880 Fifth Avenue in New York City2

Business careeredit

Hertz had extensive and complex business interests, mainly in the transport sector

Hertz's first job was selling newspapers, and eventually he became a reporter for the Chicago Morning News When the paper, then called the Chicago Record, merged with another paper, he lost his job Although he couldn't drive, in 1904 he found a job selling cars at the suggestion of a friend1 Because of the number of trade-ins, he came up with the idea of creating a cab company with low prices so the common man could afford to ride in them In 1907, he had a fleet of seven used cars that he used as cabs1

He founded the Yellow Cab Company in Chicago in 1915, which offered taxicab service at a modest price The distinctive yellow cabs became popular in his home city and were quickly franchised throughout the United States He then founded the Chicago Motor Coach Company in 1917 to operate bus transport services in Chicago and the Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company in 1920 to manufactured taxicabs for sale In 1923, he founded the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company to manufacture coaches and later cars In 1924, he acquired a rental car business, renaming it Hertz Drive-Ur-Self Corporation

Competition between the Yellow Cab Company and Checker Taxi in Chicago was fierce and frequently violent with a number of shootings and deaths

By 1925, the Yellow Cab Company was owned by the "Chicago Yellow Cab Company," which in turn was owned by Hertz, Parmelee and some other investors In the same year he established The Omnibus Corporation to control both the Chicago Motor Coach Company and the Fifth Avenue Coach Company in New York

In 1925, Hertz held the following positions:3

  • President of the Yellow Cab Company
  • Chairman Benzoline Motor Fuel Company
  • Chairman Chicago Motor Coach Company
  • Chairman Fifth Avenue Coach Company
  • Chairman New York Transportation Company
  • Chairman Omnibus Corporation of America
  • Chairman Yellow Sleeve-Valve Engine Works
  • Chairman Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company

In 1926, he sold a majority share in Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company together with its subsidiaries, Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company and "Hertz Drive-Ur-Self," to General Motors Hertz became a main board director at GM at the same time4

He then sold his remaining interest in the Yellow Cab Company in 1929 following the firebombing of his stables, where 11 horses were killed

In 1933, Robert Lehman sold Hertz a minority interest in Lehman Brothers investment bank in New York City and he remained a member of the firm until his death In 1938, Hertz was prepared to buy Eastern Air Lines from General Motors but the airline's General Manager, Eddie Rickenbacker, was able to raise the necessary financing to acquire Eastern before Hertz could exercise his option In 1943, he sold his remaining financial interest in Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company to General Motors

Using The Omnibus Corporation he re-purchased the car rental business from General Motors in 1953 The Omnibus Corporation then divested itself of its public transport interests, changed its name to The Hertz Corporation and floated on the New York Stock Exchange the following year

Personal lifeedit

In 1903, he married Francis Fannie Kesner of Chicago with whom he had three children: Leona Jane, John Jr, and Helen John Jr became an advertising executive and was briefly married 1942-44 to film star Myrna Loy

Thoroughbred horse racingedit

Main article: Stoner Creek Stud

John and Fannie Hertz were major figures in Thoroughbred horse racing They owned a horse farm at Trout Valley near Cary, Illinois, another known as Amarillo Ranch in Woodland Hills, California Stoner Creek Stud near Paris, Kentucky became their most important breeding and training center Among their top horses were the 1928 Kentucky Derby winner and American Horse of the Year, Reigh Count, who sired Count Fleet, winner of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing in 1943 Both horses were inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame15


During the Cold War era, Hertz established the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation with the purpose of supporting military research Friend Edward Teller urged Hertz to orient his foundation to fund education in the applied sciences The Hertz Foundation fellowship program was originally administered primarily by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who were associated with the military's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile defense programs For his significant contribution to the security of the US, in 1958, he received the highest civilian award given by the Department of Defense

In 1924, Hertz fronted the city of Chicago $34,000 to install the city's first traffic lights, on Michigan Avenue5


Hertz died on October 8, 19616 His wife died two years later7 They were originally buried together in the Rosehill Cemetery Chicago, Illinois Their remains are interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City


  1. ^ a b c d e Sawyers, June Skinner 1991 Chicago Portraits Chicago: Loyola University Press pp 120–121 ISBN 0-8294-0700-6 
  2. ^ HERTZ GIVES FUND FOR SCHOLARSHIPS; Transport Fortune to Train Engineers for Defense of Nation He Adopted Focusing on Those in Need, New York Times, Sept 20, 1957 1
  3. ^ "Gas-Electric Motorbus Co, Roland Gas-Electric Vehicle Co, New York Motor Bus Co," Coachbuilt 1925 - Hertz is today president of the Yellow Cab Company; chairman of the board of the Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company; chairman of the Omnibus Corporation of America; chairman of the Chicago Motor Coach Company; chairman of the Fifth Avenue Coach Company; chairman of the New York Transportation Company; chairman of the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company; chairman of the Yellow Sleeve-Valve Engine Works, Inc; and chairman of the Benzoline Motor Fuel Company 
  4. ^ "Hertz" Coachbuild 
  5. ^ a b "Golden opportunity" Chicago Tribune Magazine 2007-11-25 p 31 
  6. ^ "John D Hertz Is Dead on Coast Led Yellow Cab and Rent-a-Car Founder of 2 Concerns Was 82 -- Owned Noted Horses, Including Count Fleet" Associated Press in the New York Times October 10, 1960 Retrieved 2010-12-11 John D Hertz, founder of the Hertz Rent-A-Car System, Inc, and of the Yellow Cab Company, died last night He was 82 years old Mr Hertz retired in 1955  
  7. ^ "John Hertz's Widow Dies at 82 in Florida" Chicago Tribune February 5, 1963 Retrieved 2010-12-11 Mrs Hertz, whose husband founded the Yellow Cab company and developed the Hertz Rent-a-car system, also helped him develop one of America's leading  

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