Norton Simon Prominent industrialist


June 04, 1993

LOS ANGELES -- Industrialist Norton Simon, who amassed a multimillion-dollar conglomerate bearing his name and then relinquished control of it to devote his time to his world-famous art collection, has died at age 86.

Mr. Simon, who was stricken 10 years ago with the paralyzing neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome, died in his sleep at his Bel-Air home Wednesday evening, said the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. The cause of death was pneumonia, said Janet Ellis, executive administrative assistant at the museum.

Mr. Simon was married to Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Jones since 1971.

The college dropout invested in a Fullerton, Calif., orange juice-bottling plant while still in his 20s. He built that into the Hunt Foods and Industries empire.

With his deft moves on the stock market, picking undervalued stock and gaining controlling interest in companies, he built Norton Simon Inc. It included not only Hunt but such businesses as McCall's Publishing, Saturday Review of Literature and Canada Dry Corp.

Some takeover targets thought he was too tough, and he in turn became a critic of the entrenched management at many companies.

But Mr. Simon resigned from the board of Norton Simon Inc. in 1969, the year his 31-year-old son, Robert Ellis Simon, committed suicide. He said he wanted to work full time on his art collection, which he had spent millions on, including a near-record $2.2 million in 1965 for Rembrandt's portrait of his son Titus.

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