Charles Luckman was a businessman and an American architect, famous as the "Boy Wonder of American Business" when he was named president of the Pepsodent toothpaste company in 1939 at the age of 30. Through acquisition, he later became president of Lever Brothers.
In 1946, President Harry Truman appointed Luckman to serve on the President's Committee on Civil Rights. Then in 1947, President Truman asked him to help feed starving Europe. For this work, he was honored with Britain's Order of St. John, France's Legion of Honor, and Italy's Star of Solidarity.
Luckman had always wanted to be an architect. As a nine-year-old paper boy outside the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City, he asked a customer about the pretty lights and was told they were called "chandeliers." Then he asked, "Who does... Who decides on things like that?" "An architect," came the reply. "He designs the hotel and says to put the chandeliers there." Luckman wrote in his memoir, "Right then and there I decided to become an architect."
He trained at the University of Illinois where he was a member of the Professional Engineering Fraternity Theta Tau, and the Social Fraternity Chi Psi but went into sales after graduating during the depths of the Great Depression. After nearly 20 years of great success in business, he helped plan Lever Brothers' New York skyscraper, Lever House, one of the first sealed glass towers that began the curtain wall trend. The complex, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, was innovative in several other ways, as well, including a rare public plaza at ground level.