Gulf + Western

Paramount: A Gulf + Western Company At the beginning and end of any Paramount Pictures film from 1966 to 1989 you see the image here, with the text Paramount — A Gulf + Western Company. Indeed Andy Warhol imortalized the image in his work Paramount.

But what was Gulf + Western?

The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us the company was a corporation that was founded in 1958 by Charles Bluhdorn and became one of the most highly diversified conglomerates in the United States. Gulf + Western took control of the Paramount Pictures Corporation in 1966. Gulf + Western changed its name to Paramount Communications Inc. in 1989 and was acquired by the media conglomerate Viacom Inc. in 1994.

Amazingly, there seems to be almost no memory left of Charles Bluhdorn nor Gulf + Western. Do a Google search for Charles Bluhdorn and you get only 87 hits (Henry Ford returns 235,000).

Perhaps we are too embarassed to remember. In Michael Eisner’s autobiography Work in Progress we learn:

…Eisner’s boss was the irrepressible Charles Bluhdorn, the chief executive of Gulf and Western. During one afternoon of hot tub schmooze at Bluhdorn’s home in the Dominican Republic, Bluhdorn proposed a film “in which Sitting Bull meets Hitler. We ought to get Dustin Hoffman involved.” Then, Eisner reports, “he suggested a ‘Bad News Bears’ sequel set in Cuba, in which Castro hits the winning home run.” Ever the diplomat, Eisner made but one suggestion: the Americans ought to win.

In the few web pages where Bludhorn is mentioned, he is described with terms like manic and autocratic, the most rapacious and ruthless of conglomerateurs and a coarse boob with funny accent. There are no biographies of Charles Bluhdorn. Business case studies don’t seem to mention Gulf + Western. They have been erased from our collective memory.

From this page we learn the details of his death: Charles Bluhdorn… died of a heart attack on a corporate jet flying from the Dominican Republic to New York in February 1983…. Among those who attended the private funeral services at St. Mary’s Church was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Think of Charles Bluhdorn every time you watch Heaven Can Wait or Chinatown or The Godfather and see Gulf + Western on the screen.

Comments

Gordon Dean's picture
Gordon Dean on October 2, 2003 - 15:40

What happened to the pension plan? I have an employee whose husband worked for G + W in the 70’s and 80’s and got a letter about a pension when he would hit retirement age. He did not keep in touch with the company and is now almost at that age and recently found his letter.

Richard Siegfried's picture
Richard Siegfried on December 2, 2003 - 15:33

my father has some unsolved issues with his pension, and I need a phone number to call them regarding forms for the IRS.

George Koumal's picture
George Koumal on March 5, 2004 - 21:14

This is not a comment but rather a question:
I worked for the New Jersey Zinc Co. from 1969 till 1979 and had pension fund fully vested with the Gulf + Western Natural Resources Group headquartered at the time in Nashville, Tennessee. I maintained contact with Deborah J. Clauser, Pension Administrator and informed her about my address changes. I am now 62 years old and would like to start to draw my pension. Please let me know whom and where to contact-the Nshville address and phone number are no longer valid. My currect address is: George Koumal, 2001 N. Evelyn Ave., Tucson, AZ 85715, phone #: 520-886-3764. I hope for your prompt reply. Regards, George Koumal

Seamus Sweeney's picture
Seamus Sweeney on June 22, 2005 - 22:20

There was a Bluhdorn article in the New Yorker a few years back — affectionate and funny.

Mark Philipp's picture
Mark Philipp on March 24, 2006 - 00:07

For people interested in Bluhdorn I recommend: “The kid stays in the picture”, Biography of Robert Evans who was, I think 18 years, CEO of Paramount, hired by Bluhdorn.

Doris Phipps's picture
Doris Phipps on December 15, 2006 - 13:02

I worked for a division of Gulf & Western, (Young Spring & Wire) in the late 60’s and 70’s. Our plant closed in 1976. At that time, I was told I was fully vested in their penion plan. Now that I have reached retirement age, I would like to begin receiving my pension.
Can anyone be of assistance?

GERALD B. ROTHERMEL's picture
GERALD B. ROTHERMEL on April 14, 2007 - 02:01

I WORKED FOR GULF AND WESTERN FROM JANUARY 1965 THRU 1979.NEVER HEARD ANYTHING OF MY PENSION.HOW CAN I CHECK IF IT IS AVAILABLE TO ME?? THANKS GERRY

Steve Dickmann's picture
Steve Dickmann on October 14, 2007 - 18:48

I met Mr. Bluhdorn on a few occasions, but one, the presentation of our business plan for 1981 to the senior management of G+W, stands out in my mind. In person, Mr. Bluhdorn was polite and charming and like most of the other senior G+W executives, especially Marty Davis, incredibly hard working and in their offices, in meetings or on their phones until all hours.

Charles Amerman's picture
Charles Amerman on December 22, 2007 - 01:38

I worked for Taylor Forge a Gulf & Western company in the energy products group, from 1972 to 1983 and had a vested pension. I am of retirement age and would like to receive it. Does anyone have a contact phone number, an address or any other information regarding the pension?

Thank you,

Chuck

hlm's picture
hlm on March 7, 2008 - 04:21

my dad worked for G & W in NYC from about 1973 to 1986. All is well with collecting on his pension, direct deposited. Its the life time health coverage he was suppose to get that gets all muffed up now with the Viacom take over. His name was Charles McGonigle, if anyone knows him contact me at attymcg@yahoo.com

by the way, he has mentioned Taylor Forge as one of his projects.

Joey Robin's picture
Joey Robin on January 15, 2009 - 04:38

I was permanently laid off by Gulf and Western located in Adrian, Michigan (formerly Bohn Aluminum & Brass, at the time of release-referred to as Bohn Aluminum & Brass Division of Gulf and Western) At the time of permanent lay-off in 1985 I had a full 120 month vested pension. I need to know who and how to contact the appropriate CFO or authorized person to receive the proper information to begin receiving retirement funds as I have retained retirement age. Anyone out there have any pertinent Pension Fund Information? How about the Mechanics Education Union that was the union at the time I was laid off? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Please send your reply to the above mentioned and named e-mail address.

Doug Rink's picture
Doug Rink on February 22, 2009 - 02:16

Charles Bludorn was an awsome rags to riches kind of guy. Eisner and Diller both thought the world of him. I did see the movie “the kid stays in the picture” and I wished Robert Evans would get a movie made about Bludorn or Jimmy Ling or Tex Thronton- from a time about 1958 until about 1970. You know, during the conglomerate era. I think Matt Damon could play Ling- Jude Law could chop-up Bludorn with horn rimed glasses and Russel Crow on Thornton. I would maybe be the only person interested in it- but as our current economy sours- the other side of this thing is merger mania and then inflation like that era. The book “Ling the making of a Texas Titan” could be made into a movie too. -dr

steve m.'s picture
steve m. on August 4, 2010 - 20:55

I also worked for New Jersey Zinc cO. plan on retiring soon. Do not know where to apply for my pension. IF ANYONE has the answer please E-mail me.

Rob Robson's picture
Rob Robson on December 11, 2010 - 23:59

I worked for Gulf and Western Food Products division in the early 70’s
I’m looking for more details of that operation. My area was Scott and Matson Farms in Pompano Beach, Florida. We had farms in Florida, Abaco Islands Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Honduras. My daily work place was Pompano Packing Company.

Ton Zijlstra's picture
Ton Zijlstra on December 13, 2010 - 16:05

Hi Peter, it seems the low Google count of pages on this guy are also illustrated with all the comments asking for info on their pension plans. :)

Tarldon Neese's picture
Tarldon Neese on August 29, 2011 - 06:58

August 29, 2011.

Mr. Robson, I had a paragraph typed and touched a TAB key and lost everything. You may get a partial message.

This page seems tricky, so let me now say it this way…

As a US Agriculture representative, I visited the Scott-Matson farm operation at Marsh Harbor, Abaco while it was being prepared for intended pineapple (and possibly papaya) cultivation. I met a fine old gentleman there named Sam Brown, his wife and his “lap dog.” Mr. Brown was employed by Scott-Matson Farms. I believe he said he was from Fort Pierce, FL. He met me at the airport in the morning; gave me an excellent tour of the farms and told me much about the pineapple industry.

Mr. Brown had a great sense of humor; said he and his wife had lived alone on that farm until they had developed the habit of going to bed early … even the dog; said occasionally “bosses” would come over from Florida and tended to sit up and talk too long at night. Sam had a secret that he shared with me and I remember it and use it to this day. He had invented a cocktail that he called “Sam Brown’s Abaco Tranquilizer.” It was smooth; it tasted good; and it was powerful. He said he would start serving Abaco Tranquilizers about sundown to his guests from Florida and because it fitted the hot afternoons so well, his guests would pretty soon either get up and go home… or go to sleep themselves. Either way, he achieved his purpose of getting to bed early. He then served me an Abaco Tranquilizer, fed me an excellent lunch prepared by Mrs. Brown, and took me to the airport for my flight back to Nassau.

He gave me the recipe of 5 ingredients:
Equal parts of…
Pre-mixed Tang (it is consistent)
Pineapple juice (he said to use Nassau’s Sugar Loaf Pineapple… we can’t get it here)
and Rum of your choice … dark or light
These three (secret) ingredients can be prepared and stored in the frig for days.
When ready to serve, fill a tall glass with cracked ice, pour as much of the “secret” over the ice as you dare, remembering it’s one third rum, then finish filling with 7-UP and stir… garnish with a slice of orange.

This was 45 years ago and was about a 5-hour experience. Hope it’s near the truth.

There’s more here about a Rum cocktail than there is about Scott-Matson Pineapples, but I thought you might enjoy a thin slice of Scott-Matson’s Sam Brown history that may have never been revealed before.

Regards, Tarldon Neese

H. Haro's picture
H. Haro on November 9, 2011 - 02:18

Did you ever find out about Gulf + Western pension?  I too worked for them in the late 60&#39s early 70&#39s and would like to know if there is any penson out there for me?

Rob Robson's picture
Rob Robson on December 7, 2011 - 10:13

When Gulf and Western purchased Scott & Matson farms, they retain the consulting service&#39s of Mr. Matson on farming for a period of time.  On one trip to Abaco Island with Mr. Matson and George LaTour a VP of the Food Products division of G&W  I learned that 4:00PM was “Toddy Time” for Mr, Matson and that we should hurry alond to dinner and back to the company apartment as Toddy time started at 4 and went till bed time.  The story goes, onece while inspecting the fields he stoped the station wagon in the middle of  a field at 4pm dropped the tailgate and started fixing the drinks.


I have many fond memories of travel to Marsh Harbor and  Treasure Cay.


Rob Robson

henry valdivia jr.'s picture
henry valdivia jr. on August 23, 2012 - 19:59

mr. robson,

i believe you as well as your father may have worked with my dad during those years at the pompano beach packing house. my dad was employed by scott mattson and g+w at that facility for nearly 20 years.

i enjoyed reading the short story published by mr. neese.

regards,

henry valdivia jr.

Nightrider's picture
Nightrider on September 17, 2012 - 05:34

During their heydays in the late 60’s, a handful of people like Charles Bluhdorn and James Ling (LTV) and Hal Geneen were in the headlines almost everyday, making buy-out offers on public companies in diverse industries. Those were the days of conglomerates and corporate raiders, mergers and acquisitions. Even with the recent anti-trust court case against Microsoft, its chairman had nothing over the likes of Bluhdorn and Ling. Many MBA candidates at the time must have aspired to be like them. Of course, these people were at times disparaged as being greedy and heartless. But they did scare the daylights out of many other companies’ directors and officers into attempting to enhance value for their own stockholders (boosting stock value to make it more ‘difficult’ to be bought out).

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