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Floyd Odlum

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Floyd Odlum

Floyd Bostwick Odlum
Floyd Bostwick Odlum
Floyd Odlum between 1940 and 1946
Born (1892-03-30)March 30, 1892
Union City, Michigan
Died June 17, 1976(1976-06-17) (aged 84)
Indio, California
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Occupation lawyer, industrialist
Employer Electric Bond and Share Company, Atlas Utilities Company
Spouse(s) Hortense McQuarrie (1915-1935), Jackie Cochran (1936-1976)

Floyd Bostwick Odlum (March 30, 1892, Union City, Michigan – June 17, 1976, Indio, California) was a wealthy lawyer and industrialist. He has been described as "possibly the only man in the United States who made a great fortune out of the Depression".[1]


After struggling as a corporate attorney in Salt Lake City, Odlum received an offer of a job at a New York firm, and in 1921 became vice-president of his primary client, Electric Bond and Share Company. In 1923, Odlum, a friend, and their wives pooled a total of $39,600 and formed the United States Company to speculate in purchases of utilities and general securities. Within two years, the company's net assets had increased 17 fold to nearly $700,000.[2] In 1928, Odlum incorporated Atlas Utilities Company to take over the common stock of his other company.

During the summer of 1929, Odlum was one of the few industrial moguls to believe that the boom on Wall Street could not continue much longer, and he sold one half of Atlas's holdings, as well as nine million dollars in new securities to investors. He had 14 million dollars in cash and short term notes when the stock market crashed.[3] During the next few years, Atlas Utilities bought up stock in less fortunate investment companies at Depression-reduced prices. After Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated President of the United States, Odlum shifted gears, selling off utilities before stronger regulation set in, and switching to large-scale financing. By 1933, Odlum was one of the 10 wealthiest men in the United States. Besides John Cheever Cowdin's enterprise Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc.

In 1948, Odlum sold RKO to Howard Hughes.[5] Odlum was an investor in the 1954 production of the Broadway show The Pajama Game—during which actress Shirley MacLaine was discovered by Paramount Pictures producer Hal Wallis—and convinced Goldman Sachs's head Sidney Weinberg to invest as well.[6]

Odlum was first married, in 1915, to Indio, California where they lived after the 1950s.

Odlum along with a business associate L.Boyd Hatch also purchased and developed Hatch's Camp, also known as St. Ann's Retreat, or Pine Glenn Cove, a mountainous retreat in Logan Canyon, Utah. In 2006, Pine Glenn Cove was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Odlum died in 1976 at the age of 84.


  1. ^ Current Biography 1941, pp629-31
  2. ^ Current Biography 1941, pp 629-31
  3. ^ Current Biography 1941, p630
  4. ^ "Cutting Koerners: Floyd Odlum, the Atlas Corporation and the Dismissal of Orson Welles from RKO", Vincent L. Barnett, Film History: An International Journal, Volume 22, Number 2, 2010, pp.182-198
  5. ^ "The Power Elite" C. Wright Mills, Alan Wolfe
  6. ^ "Goldman Sachs : The Culture of Success" by Lisa Endlich

External links

  • A film clip "Longines Chronoscope with Floyd Odlum" is available for free download at the Internet Archive
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