I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens. My father was a frustrated opera singer and settled on being a cantor in Cedarhurst, Long Island. The fact that he was a dogmatic atheist did not exactly help him to get ahead in this profession and after a number of years he became a substitute teacher. My mother also worked as a schoolteacher. I attended the local public school, Far Rockaway High, later heading to Princeton University. My mother wanted me to be a doctor, so after earning an A.B. in Philosophy in 1957, I went to medical school. I quickly realized the medical field was not for me. After two years, I joined the army and soon after eagerly returned to New York to start a career on Wall Street.
My career began in 1961, as a Registered Representative with Dreyfus & Company. I learned options and convertible arbitrage and built up a large business. By 1968 I bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and started Icahn & Co. Inc., a brokerage firm.
In 1978, I began taking control positions in individual companies. Over the years, I have taken positions in various corporations including: RJR Nabisco, Texaco, Phillips Petroleum, Western Union, Gulf & Western, Viacom, American Can, USX, Marvel, Imclone, Federal-Mogul, Kerr-McGee, Medimmune, BEA Systems and Time Warner. I became Chairman of Bayswater Realty & Capital Corp. in 1979; and Chairman of ACF Industries, Inc. in 1984 among others.
Today, I am Chairman of Icahn Enterprises, a diversified holding company engaged in a variety of businesses, including investment management, metals, real estate, and consumer goods. I have been the Chairman of American Railcar Industries since 1994 and a Director of Blockbuster since May 2005. I became Chairman of ImClone Systems in 2006. In January 2008, I became the Chairman of Federal-Mogul.
My wife Gail and I serve on the boards of my foundations. They include Icahn Charitable Foundation, Foundation for a Greater Opportunity, and Children’s Rescue Fund. Working with the Foundation for a Greater Opportunity, I founded three charter schools located in the South Bronx. The 2007 New York State English Language and Arts Exams show 80% of the kids at the Carl C. Icahn charter school passing the exam testing 36.7% higher than the neighborhood average and 97% passing the exam 37.5% higher in Math. In addition, we sponsor the Icahn Scholars Program at Choate Rosemary Hall. The Children’s Rescue Fund started the Icahn House in The Bronx, a 65-unit complex for homeless families housing single pregnant women and single women with children, and operates Icahn House East, a homeless shelter located in New York City.