McDonald's CEO, Cantalupo, dies of apparent heart attack

April 19, 2004

OAK BROOK, Ill.—Jim Cantalupo, CEO of McDonald's Corp., died of a sudden heart attack early May 19 in Orlando, Fla., where the company was holding its annual Worldwide Owner/Operator Convention.

He was 60.

According to, Cantalupo is widely credited with McDonald's radical turnaround since taking the top post at the company 15 months ago.

In a statement released to the press, McDonald's director Andrew J. McKenna said, "Our entire McDonald's system mourns this tragic loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with Jim's wife, Joann, and his family."

Cantalupo is a 28-year McDonald's veteran, who started with the firm as controller in 1974, before retiring as CEO of McDonald's International in 2001. He came back to the company in Jan. 1, 2003, to replace departing CEO Jack Greenburg.

Cantalupo's return reinvigorated McDonald's same-store sales and ushered in a host of successful new product launches. He also gave the command to sell off its Donatos Pizzeria subsidiary in 2003, in order to focus more on the company's burger interests.

Just hours after Cantalupo's death, McDonald's board of directors named his successors: 43-year-old Charlie Bell, McDonald's president and chief operating officer, will be the new CEO, and remain president; and McKenna, 74, will be the company's new chairman.

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