The former chairman of TWA is frequently credited as the first golden parachute recipient. When he took the job in 1961, the airline's creditors were trying to wrest control away from eccentric Howard Hughes. TWA's legal status was precarious, so Tillinghast's contract included a clause that would pay him money in the event that he lost his job. The parachute never opened: Tillinghast left TWA in 1976 to become vice chairman of the investment bank White, Weld & Company (later acquired by Merrill Lynch). But not before he took the ailing airline from from a $38.7 million loss in 1961 to a $50 million profit in 1965.
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