Morton, exec who pioneered corporate entertaining, dies

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Irvin "Jack" Morton, an entrepreneur who led the vanguard in bringing headline entertainers to corporate events and conventions, died June 28 at his home in Vero Beach, Fla., of natural causes. He was 94.

The 600-employee company that today bears his name, Jack Morton Worldwide, began in 1939 in Washington, D.C., as Jack Morton Productions, and grew by catering to corporate America's growing appetite throughout the '40s and '50s for merging entertainment with corporate events. Mr. Morton brought such celebrities as Bob Hope and Lawrence Welk to business functions of trade associations like the American Trucking Association as well as large corporations like General Motors Corp. and Johnson & Johnson.

He started his career by working in movie theaters as a teenager, when he picked up the nickname Jack.

Event marketing

"Jack Morton ... was a terrific communicator and entrepreneur with an instinctive understanding of how businesses could integrate entertainment to better inspire their most important audiences," said Josh McCall, CEO, Jack Morton Worldwide.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the company expanded into areas like event production and staging and exhibit design, and offered services beyond booking events to include designing events and communications programs.

Offices opened in major markets including New York, Chicago and San Francisco. In 1977, Mr. Morton's son, William I. Morton, took the helm of Jack Morton Worldwide. In 1998, Interpublic Group of Cos. acquired the business; the younger Mr. Morton served as chairman-CEO until March 2003 and still holds the chairman title.

Today Jack Morton Worldwide's clients include McDonald's and General Motors Corp.; its public events division is a prominent producer of arena scale events and is currently working on the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The agency also has a consumer experiential marketing arm, serving marketers such as Microsoft and Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated.

Mr. Morton is survived by his wife, Ann Morton Morton; a son, two daughters, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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