Tillie Lewis: The Tomato Queen
Kyle Elizabeth Wood, author
From grinding poverty of Brooklyn's tenements to penthouses around the world, Tillie Lewis created her own opportunities turning misfortune into great fortune. Born with a liberated mind in 1896, nothing stopped Tillie from trading her reputation for an education in high-finance on Wall Street then into owning her own Agricultural Empire providing good jobs and feeding the world through the Great Depression and beyond. Arrested & applauded, loathed & loved, TILLIE LEWIS is the WILL DO role model for us all.
Wood, a writer living in California, takes an insightful look into the remarkable life of Tillie Lewis (1896–1977), a pioneering businesswoman at a time when a female captain of industry was unthinkable. At age 15, while a member of the Ziegfeld Follies, she became mistress to Italian importer Florindo Del Gaizo, but her hopes of an eventual marriage were never realized. He did, however, appoint her as head of his company, Flotill Foods, in 1930, making her the first female president of an agricultural company in the U.S. With his death in 1937, Lewis lost both her love and her business partner and was left with onerous debts to repay. From this early setback, she went on to a highly successful career running Flotill, signing the U.S.’s first-ever union contract for agricultural workers and founding a highly successful diet-food line. Along her way to becoming an agricultural queen, she was arrested by the FBI for “acting as an agent for a foreign government” for her dealings with Fascist-era Italy (but was later cleared), was named one of 1952’s Women of the Year by the Associated Press, and was a sought-after resource for Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Israel’s Ariel Sharon. Lewis is an fascinating and formidable subject whose colorful story will delight both history and business buffs. (BookLife)