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Milton Jerrold Shapp

SHAPP, MILTON JERROLD (Shapiro; 1912–1994), U.S. industrialist and governor of Pennsylvania. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Shapp moved to Philadelphia in 1935 and worked in the sale of electronic products. To avoid antisemitic sentiment, he changed his name from Shapiro to Shapp but continued to practice Judaism openly. In 1946 he founded Jerrold Electronics Corporation, which pioneered in the development of cable television access. It became a major force in the television industry, making Shapp a multimillionaire. An equal opportunity employer, Shapp hired African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minority groups; and he was one of the first executives to promote women to top management positions. In 1963 the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO named him Man of the Year, the first time a business executive was selected for that honor. In 1967 he sold his interest in the company to the General Instrument Company so that he could concentrate on politics.

In 1960, at the request of President-elect Kennedy, Shapp served as chairman of the New Growth-New Jobs conference in Philadelphia and submitted a report suggesting programs for improving job opportunities in Philadelphia. During the Kennedy administration, he served as consultant to the Peace Corps and to the U.S. Department of Commerce on Area Development problems, and was vice chairman of the National Public Advisory Committee on Area Development. Shapp first ran for the Pennsylvania governorship in 1966 but was defeated.

In 1968 he served as chairman of the Committee for Pennsylvania State Constitutional Revision. In that year he backed Eugene Mc-Carthy for president, losing the support of some labor leaders who had backed him in 1966. As a liberal, and an opponent of the Vietnam War, Shapp had the endorsement of Americans for Democratic Action and of the New Democratic Coalition. He supported state legislation attempting to prevent the sending of Pennsylvania citizens into undeclared wars. Shapp also supported abortion reform. He was elected governor of Pennsylvania in 1970 by a wide margin, becoming the first Jew to hold that office. In 1974 he won a second term by a large margin as well, serving until 1979. He was the first Pennsylvania governor to succeed himself in the 20th century. As governor, he established the Pennsylvania State Lottery, administered by the Department of Aging which his administration created. The lottery was just one of Shapp's successful attempts to restore the state to stable financial footing.

In 1976 he ran for the Democratic nomination for president but did not make it into the primaries.

Shapp served Jewish organizations in many capacities, especially the American Jewish Congress; the Allied Jewish Appeal of Philadelphia; and the Federation of Jewish Agencies of Greater Philadelphia.

He wrote My Impressions … Israel at Age 25 (1973).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.