Irving Harris

Businessperson, Author

1910 – 2004


Who was Irving Harris?

Irving B. Harris was an American businessman and philanthropist. With his brother, he co-founded the Toni Home Permanent Company, which was sold to the Gillette Safety Razor Co. in 1958. The original Toni manufacturing facility was located in a former schoolhouse near Forest Lake, Minnesota.

Born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Harris did much of his charitable work in Chicago, Illinois, but he also donated substantially to the arts in Aspen, Colorado. Harris contributed most of his money to programs for children and the arts such as the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance. He attended Yale University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1931. In 1986, Harris gave a donation that established The Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at The University of Chicago. Mr. Harris gave the lead gift in 1954 to create public television station WTTW in Chicago - he later served as the station's Chairman of the Board. His philanthropy created several non-profits in Chicago - Family Focus and the Ounce of Prevention Fund are "children" of Irving Harris, as is Erikson Institute, the graduate school in child development he helped found in 1966.

We need you!

Help us build the largest biographies collection on the web!

Aug 4, 1910
United States of America
  • United States of America
  • Yale University
Lived in
  • Saint Paul
Sep 25, 2004

on July 23, 2013


Use the citation below to add to a bibliography:


"Irving Harris." STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 26 Nov. 2022. <>.

Discuss this Irving Harris biography with the community: