ARMAND HAMMER Biography - Bussiness people and enterpreneurs


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Armand Hammer (May 21, 1898 – December 10, 1990) was a Jewish-United   
States industrialist and art collector. Hammer was CEO of the Occidental 
Petroleum Company, an Petroleum and natural gas exploration and           
development company. Hammer was born in Manhattan, New York and attended 
medical school at Columbia University as a young man; he received his     
medical license in 1924 and, though he never practiced medicine, he       
relished being referred to as "Dr. Hammer." Instead, after graduating from
medical school, Hammer extended earlier entrepreneurial ventures with a   
successful business importing many goods from and exporting               
pharmaceuticals to the newly-formed Soviet Union. He moved to the USSR in 
the 1920s to oversee these operations, especially his large business     
manufacturing and exporting inexpensive pencils. After returning to the   
US, he entered into a diverse array of business, art, cultural, and       
humanitarian endeavors, including investing in various U.S. oil production
efforts. These oil investments were later parlayed into control of       
Occidental Petroleum. Throughout his life he continued personal and       
business dealings with the Soviet Union, despite Cold War taboos against 
such dealings by Americans. In later years he lobbied and traveled       
extensively at great personal expense, working for peace between the     
United States and the Communism countries of the world, including ferrying
physicians and supplies into the Soviet Union to help Chernobyl survivors.
Politically, Hammer was a staunch supporter of the United States         
Republican Party political party. He boosted Richard Nixon's President of 
the United States campaign with tens of thousands of dollars in campaign 
contributions. He was convicted on charges that one of these donations had
been made illegally, but was later pardoned by Republican U.S. President 
George H. W. Bush. Simultaneously, the Hammers' name was widely used in   
propaganda by the Soviets. The contradiction between Hammer's open       
sympathy for the Soviet Union and his success as a capitalism, as well as 
his involvement in international affairs and politics, have made Hammer a 
subject of suspicion and conspiracy theory for many; further, his close   
relationship with former United States Democratic Party Tennessee United 
States Senate Albert Gore, Sr., despite Hammer's own party affiliations, 
has been the subject of especially broad scrutiny and speculation. Hammer 
was also an avid collector of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism       
paintings. His personal donation forms the core of the permanent         
collection of the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California. Despite 
popular myth, the relation between Hammer's name and the household product
Arm and Hammer baking soda is coincidental. The pun was not lost on       
Hammer, though: during the 1980s, he attempted to buy Church and Dwight, 
makers of the Arm and Hammer line of products; he succeeded in buying a   
sizable minority interest and eventually sat on its board of directors. He
claimed that his father Julius Hammer had named him after a character,   
Armand Duval, in La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils. In fact, 
according to Carl Blumay, his biographer and former press agent, Armand   
Hammer was named after the "Arm and Hammer" symbol of the Socialist Labor 
Party, in which his father had a leadership role in at one time. (After   
the Russian Revolution of 1917, a part of the SLP under Julius' leadership
split off to become a founding element of the Communist Party of the USA.)
Hammer was a philanthropist, supporting causes related to education,     
medicine, and the arts. Among his legacies is the Armand Hammer United   
World College of the American West (now generally called the UWC-USA, part
of the United World Colleges). He embraced a kind of Victorian era view of
world affairs, in which personal relationships could overcome geopolitics 
tensions. Through the mid-1980s, he tried to make his own life a model of 
this, and bragged that he was the only man to have known both Vladimir   
Lenin and Ronald Reagan. His generosity and diplomacy were recognized     
around the world, and by the time he died, Hammer had won the Soviet     
Union's Lenin Order of Friendship Among the Peoples, the U.S. National   
Arts Medal, France's Legion of Honor, Italy's Grand Order of Merit,       
Sweden's Royal Order of the Polar Star, Austria's Knight Commander's     
Cross, Pakistan's Hilal-i-Quaid-Azam Peace Award, Israel's Leadership     
Award, Venezuela's Order of Andres Bello, Mexico's National Recognition   
Award, Bulgaria's Jubilee Medal, and Belgium's Order of the Crown. Hammer 
hungered for a Nobel Peace Prize, and was nominated for one in 1988 for   
his outreach to end the Cold War, but the award went to Tenzin Gyatso,   
14th Dalai Lama (the 14th Dalai Lama). He also appeared on The Cosby Show,
saying that a cure for cancer was imminent. His confidence was not       
justified, as he died of bone marrow cancer in December 1990. He was 92   
years old.