Frank Perdue Dies at 84

April 1, 2005

Frank Perdue, the Maryland farmer who revolutionized the American poultry industry with the introduction of his brand-name chickens, transforming a backyard egg business into one of the nation’s largest food companies, died March 31, 2005 after a brief illness. He was 84.

At the time of his death, Perdue was chairman of the executive committee of the board of directors of Perdue Farms Inc., headquartered in Salisbury, Md.

The first hands-on CEO to become famous as a company advertising spokesperson, he appeared in approximately 200 television commercials, in addition to radio and print ads, between 1971 and 1994, until his son, James “Jim” Perdue, chairman of the board of Perdue Farms, took over the role. Frank Perdue’s stubborn commitment to product quality led to the creation of one of modern advertising’s most memorable lines, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.”

Frank Perdue attributed his success to determination, hard work, honest dealings, innovative marketing and, perhaps most importantly, an obsession with quality.

For more on Perdue's career and accomplishments, click here to access a story from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

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