John Richman diversified the stodgy food company before its 1988 sale to Philip Morris, died Jan. 7 after a brief illness in West Palm Beach, Fla., according to a death notice. He was 89.
Richman joined a Kraft predecessor, National Dairy Products, in 1952 and become Kraft's general counsel in 1973. He also was a civic leader, chairing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra board from 1991 to 1995, and was a director of Exxon, Continental Bank and other companies.
Shortly after becoming CEO in 1979, he merged Kraft with Dart Industries, maker of Tupperware, KitchenAid appliances and Duracell batteries, which created the nation's 27th largest company. But it proved an ill fit. In 1986, Dart assets were spun into a separate company called Premark. Kraft kept Duracell. KitchenAid was sold to Whirlpool.
In 2001, Phillip Morris, renamed Altria, began to spin off stakes in Kraft. In 2010, Kraft bought U.K. candy company Cadbury and two years later spun off its North American grocery business into a new company called Kraft Foods Group. The remaining snack and candy company was named Mondelez International, and in 2015 Kraft Foods merged with H.J. Heinz.
John Marshall Richman was born in New York City on November 9, 1927, the son of Arthur Richman, a playwright who wrote The Awful Truth among other works, and Madeline Marshall, a stage actress.
He attended the Browning School and Yale University, both on scholarship, and then enrolled in Harvard Law School.
In Cambridge, he met his wife-to-be Priscilla Frary, and they were married in 1951. Mr. Richman's first job out of law school was with Leve, Hecht, Hadfield & McAlipin, a law firm whose largest client was J. Paul Getty.
Richman announced his retirement from Philip Morris in 1989. In 1990 he joined Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a Manhattan law firm. He retired in 2005.
Mr. Richman is survived by his wife Priscilla, two daughters Catherine and Diana, and five grandchildren, Kate, Jenny, Alec, Paul and Mark.more » « less