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Orville Redenbacher

AKA Orville Clarence Redenbacher

Born: 16-Jul-1907
Birthplace: Brazil, IN
Died: 19-Sep-1995
Location of death: Coronado, CA
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Cremated (ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean)

Gender: Male
Religion: Methodist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist, Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Popcorn maker

Orville Redenbacher was raised on a farm, and began growing popcorn as a 4-H project when he was a boy. In high school he began wearing bow ties, and in college he studied crop production and played the sousaphone in the marching band. He worked as a school teacher and county agricultural agent, managed a 12,000 acre farm, and worked as a low-level executive in the fertilizer industry, but his passion was always popcorn. In 1951, with his business partner Charles Bowman, Redenbacher purchased a local corn seed business, George F. Chester and Son, near Valparaiso, Indiana. He spent the next few decades tinkering with more than ten thousand corn hybrids until he achieved what he believed was "the perfect popping corn" -- popping fluffier than ordinary popcorn, with fewer un-popped kernels (which he called "shy fellows").

It was first sold in 1965 as Red Bow brand popcorn (derived from Redenbacher and Bowman's names). When sales proved disappointing they consulted with marketing experts, who suggested that Redenbacher put his own distinctive name and face on the label. Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn was introduced in 1965, and it soon made both men millionaires. They sold the business to Hunt-Wesson Foods in 1976, which sold out to ConAgra in 1990. Bowman returned to the Chester seed business, eventually retired a wealthy man. Redenbacher became the iconic popcorn pitchman, and made countless commercials and talk show appearances until his death in 1995. The Valparaiso plant was subsequently closed, with production of Redenbacher's popcorn relocated to a different facility that also packages ConAgra's Act II brand popcorn.

Father: William J. Redenbacher (farmer, b. 1873, d. 1921)
Mother: Julia Dierdorff Redenbacher (b. 1874, m. 1896, d. 1921)
Brother: Karl Conrad Redenbacher (b. 1900)
Wife: Corrine Strate Redenbacher (b. 1909, d. 1971, two daughters)
Daughter: Gail Redenbacher Tuminello
Daughter: Billie Ann Redenbacher Atwood (b. 1929)
Wife: Nina Redenbacher (d. 1991)

    High School: Brazil High School, Brazil, IN (1924)
    University: BS Agronomy, Purdue University (1928)
    Teacher: Fontanet High School, Fontanet, IN (1928-30)

    4-H Club
    Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity

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