Icahn, Carl C.

Icahn, Carl C. (Celian)

(1936–  ) financier, entrepreneur, airline executive; born in Queens, N.Y. Son of a lawyer who wanted to be an opera singer, he took a philosophy degree from Princeton (1957), dropped out of medical school after three years, and learned the broker's trade on Wall Street before establishing his own brokerage firm, Icahn & Co. (1968). One of the most notorious corporate "raiders" of the 1980s, he enriched himself and his partners by his takeovers, while, so his defenders claimed, making money for ordinary stockholders. He also engaged in what was called "greenmail"; threatening to take over corporations such as Marshall Field and Phillips Petroleum, he would sell his stocks at the end and walk off with a sizeable profit. In 1985 he bought Transworld Airlines (TWA), and as its chief executive officer, brought it back from near bankruptcy; but in 1992, despite sinking $100 million of his own money into it, he was forced to relinquish control of TWA to its employees.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.