Class of 1990
Contributions to Tennis
Behind the scenes, Joseph Fredrick Cullman III brought tennis into the homes of millions. He was a driving force in securing television coverage for the US Open in 1968, which coincided with the switch from amateur to professional tennis, known as the Open Era. He helped grow America’s premier tennis event as Chairman of the US Open in 1969-70. Joining forces with Gladys Heldman in 1970, Cullman developed the Virginia Slims Circuit, backed by his company, Philip Morris. The circuit enabled female players to compete on their own tour for the first time, creating a necessary windfall of financial support and revenue.
Cullman was a preeminent businessman, serving as Chief Executive Officer of the Philip Morris Company (1957-1978). Under Cullman, Philip Morris had philanthropic endeavors, generously supporting organizations as Dance Theatre of Harlem, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Art museums. Cullman was a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 1976 to 1983.
Cullman served as President and later Chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and served the organization for more than 20 years. Yale-educated, he helped fund the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center just outside the campus in West Haven, Connecticut.