Frank Olson, Govt Who Linked O.J. Simpson With Hertz, Dies at 91

Photo of author

By Calvin S. Nelson

Frank A. Olson, who as a high govt of Hertz forged the operating again O.J. Simpson because the star of the corporate’s commercials — a company marriage that shined up each events and that lasted twenty years, till Mr. Simpson was charged in a double murder in 1994 — died at his residence in Palm Seashore, Fla., on Wednesday, the identical day Mr. Simpson died. Mr. Olson was 91.

The trigger was problems of Covid, his sons, Christopher and Blake, mentioned.

The coincidental timing of the deaths of Mr. Olson, who had steered Hertz by way of years of company turbulence, and Mr. Simpson, the athlete turned pitchman turned notorious prison defendant, linked the 2 males in a means that Mr. Olson had as soon as embraced however that he later distanced himself from.

Greater than enterprise companions, Mr. Olson and Mr. Simpson, each San Francisco natives, solid an alliance, starting within the Seventies, that spoke of that mutually helpful zone the place company and social life intertwine. Mr. Olson, an avid golfer, sponsored Mr. Simpson for membership within the non-public Arcola Nation Membership in Paramus, N.J., the place in 1992 Mr. Simpson, a former Heisman Trophy winner and Professional Soccer Corridor of Famer, turned the primary Black member.

In a letter that Mr. Simpson left at his Los Angeles residence earlier than his arrest within the stabbing murders of his former spouse, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her good friend Ronald L. Goldman, he listed pals he was sending “love and because of.” Mr. Olson was certainly one of them.

“I took him locations the place I feel only a few Black males had ever been,” Mr. Olson mentioned within the acclaimed 2016 documentary “O.J.: Made in America.”

Mr. Simpson was 76 when he died of most cancers at his residence in Las Vegas.

The concept of that includes him in Hertz commercials to represent speedy service, starting in 1974, originated with the corporate’s advert company. However as a result of Mr. Simpson was Black and most Hertz clients the place white businessmen, the selection made the company nervous, in line with a 1994 article in The Washington Put up. So the choice was kicked as much as Mr. Olson, who on the time was govt vice chairman and basic supervisor of the rental-car division. (The corporate additionally rented vehicles.)

Mr. Olson authorised. The adverts, that includes Mr. Simpson hurtling by way of airports on his strategy to a rental automotive, had been successful. Hertz claimed that the marketing campaign lifted gross sales in its fierce rivalry with Avis and different opponents.

Mr. Olson continued to personally negotiate Mr. Simpson’s contracts, which expanded to incorporate private appearances. The 2 performed in golf foursomes with main Hertz shoppers, and through the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Mr. Simpson and his spouse hosted a lavish celebration for Hertz executives at their property within the Brentwood neighborhood.

In 1989, Mr. Simpson reached out to Mr. Olson after he was charged with assaulting his spouse on New 12 months’s Day. Police had discovered Ms. Simpson hiding within the bushes outdoors her residence, badly overwhelmed.

On the phone, Mr. Olson mentioned years later, Mr. Simpson performed down the incident. After Mr. Simpson’s no-contest plea to battery costs generated scant publicity, Hertz saved him on as its celeb pitchman.

“We regard it as a personal matter” between the Simpsons, a Hertz spokesman mentioned on the time.

5 years later, on the night time Ms. Simpson and Mr. Goldman had been murdered outdoors her condominium, Mr. Simpson was scheduled to journey to Chicago to play golf with Hertz executives and shoppers. He was arrested a number of days later.

The corporate shortly introduced that it was dropping him. Nor was the connection rekindled after his acquittal in a prison trial that riveted the nation and uncovered the polarized views of Black and white Individuals in regards to the prison justice system.

Later, when Mr. Simpson was discovered liable in a lawsuit and ordered to pay the victims’ households $33.5 million, Mr. Olson was a witness. He testified that when Mr. Simpson known as him in 1989 about his arrest on battery costs, Mr. Simpson lied in regards to the severity of the assault.

“If I had any concept on the time that this was the circumstance that it was, O.J. Simpson would by no means have labored one other day for Hertz,” Mr. Olson testified, as quoted by The Related Press.

Frank Olson was born Frank Albert Johnson on July 19, 1932, in San Francisco to Fred and Edith Mary (Hazeldine) Johnson. His mom, an immigrant from England who labored as a stenographer, had a sequence of husbands, together with Alfred Olson, a railway conductor, who adopted Frank.

Along with his sons, Mr. Olson is survived by his spouse, Sarah Olson, whom he married in 1957; a daughter, Kim Olson; and 7 grandchildren.

Mr. Olson started his profession within the rental automotive enterprise on the age of 18 as an evening supervisor at San Francisco Worldwide Airport.

Following his commencement from Metropolis Faculty of San Francisco, he based a automotive rental enterprise of his personal. He offered it to Hertz in 1964 and joined the corporate’s ranks.

He shortly ascended the company escalator: He was put answerable for Hertz operations in California and Arizona; moved east to move the New York Metropolis division in 1967; was named Jap regional vice chairman two years later; and have become basic supervisor of all Hertz rental-car operations within the U.S. in 1970.

In 1974, he joined the board of Hertz, then owned by the RCA Company. In 1977, he was named Hertz’s chief govt. In 1980, he turned chairman.

When Hertz was offered in 1985 to UAL Inc., the father or mother of United Airways, Mr. Olson was made a UAL board member. He later turned chairman of the corporate — by then renamed Allegis — and presided over a stormy interval in 1987, combating an try by United’s pilots to take over the corporate.

That 12 months, Ford Motor Firm paid $1.2 billion for Hertz. Mr. Olson stayed on as chairman. He retired as chief govt in 1999 however retained the title of nonexecutive chairman.

His sons mentioned he by no means spoke with or about Mr. Simpson after the courtroom circumstances involving the 1994 murders.

Kirsten Noyes contributed analysis.

Leave a Comment