“Father made the most popular cars in the world; I want to make the best.” -- Edsel Ford
In honor of Father’s Day, let’s look at three famous fathers who bestowed their skills, dedication and businesses upon the next generation.
Industrial genius Henry Ford founded Ford Motor Company in 1903, and revolutionized the transportation industry with assembly-line mass production. But his sole heir, Edsel Ford, was determined to develop cars more exciting than the Model T (often referred to as the "Tin Lizzie").
So in 1927 Edsel created the more fashionable Model A. He then went on to found the company’s Mercury division, which resulted in the Lincoln luxury cars. Edsel also introduced important new features, such as hydraulic brakes and safety glass. He convinced his father to produce a six-cylinder engine, and greatly strengthened the company’s overseas production.
Edsel predeceased his father in 1943, and Ford Motor Company passed on to Edsel’s children when Henry died three years later.
Today, the Ford family remains actively involved in the business. Henry’s great-grandson, William Clay Ford Jr., serves as executive chairman; great-great-granddaughter Elena Ford is the chief customer experience officer; and great-great-grandson Henry Ford III serves on the board of directors.
Bach to Bach
Johann Sebastian (J.S.) Bach stands out as one of the most renowned composers in the world of classical music. He fathered an expansive brood -- 20 children, although only 10 of them survived into adulthood. Four of Bach’s sons trained in music.
The second oldest, Carl Philipp Emanuel (C.P.E.) Bach, became a leading classical musician during the mid-18th century, and was often referred to as the “Berlin Bach.” In fact, C.P.E. garnered more fame during his lifetime than did his father.
And while J.S. Bach's work influenced countless musicians, C.P.E.’s precise technical skills inspired Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
J.S. Bach’s youngest son, Johann Christian (J.C.) Bach, also followed in his illustrious father’s footsteps. In 1792, J.C. moved to London, where he became music master to the Queen of England. He was henceforth known as the “London Bach.”
Jim Henson was one of those dads who truly inspired his kids. A father of five, Henson became world famous as the creator of the Muppets and "Sesame Street." Although he worked very long hours, Henson’s children admired him for it, instead of resenting him.
“My dad would always say, ‘If something is not inspiring, then do something that is.’ He was an inspiration to everyone,” Brian Henson said.
In order to focus on creative projects without the distractions of running a business, Jim Henson arranged to sell the Muppets brand to the Walt Disney Company, beginning in 1989.
The deal was finally closed in 2004, 14 years after Jim's death. Nevertheless, all of Henson’s children still remain active in various branches of the family business:
Lisa Henson is CEO of the Jim Henson Company, where Brian serves on the board of directors.
Brian is also chairman of the board for Jim Henson's Creature Shop, which develops puppet characters for films.
Cheryl Henson serves as president of the Jim Henson Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes puppetry across the United States.
John and Heather Henson became puppeteers themselves; John passed away in 2014.