Charlie Bell
Charlie Bell
Charlie Bell
Vital Information
Gender: Male
Nationality Australian
Born: November 7, 1960
Birthplace: Kingsford, New South Wales, Australia
Died: January 17, 2005(2005-01-17) (aged 44)
Deathplace: Australia
Alma Mater: Marcellin College Randwick
Career information
Business Executive, President, former CEO, McDonald's Corporation, (2002-04)
Website/URL: The Charlie Bell Scholarship Program

Charles Hamilton "Charlie" Bell (born November 7, 1960 - died January 17, 2005) was an Australian business executive. He served as president of the American-based fast-food chain McDonald's from December 2002, and additionally as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the McDonald's Corporation from April to November 2004. Bell was the first non-American and the youngest person to hold that position.[1]


Bell grew up in Sydney, Australia, and attended Marcellin College Randwick. Bell began his career at McDonald's at the age of 15, working at the Kingsford restaurant in Sydney. At the age of 19, he became the youngest store manager in Australian McDonald's history. At age 29 he was on the board of the Australian subsidiary, becoming its managing director at 33.[2]

He quickly rose through the ranks of corporate McDonald's. Bell was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, when Jim Cantalupo (former McDonalds International CEO) returned to the company on January 1, 2003 as Chairman and CEO of corporate McDonald's to lead a turnaround effort. Under Cantalupo's predecessor Jack M. Greenberg, the company suffered earnings declines in each of the last seven quarters. Shareholders were initially not impressed with Cantalupo and Bell's appointments as it suggested that the company was "inbred".[3] However, Cantalupo "devised a plan" which included "accelerating the introduction of healthier foods, such as salads", and Bell's implementation of this policy led to the company's recovery in the succeeding 12 months.[3] When Cantalupo died suddenly on 19 April 2004, Bell was appointed CEO while retaining his title of president.[4][5]

During Bell's short time as CEO of the company, its greatest problem was criticism of the healthiness of its food, which was exacerbated by the release of the documentary film Super Size Me. Bell led efforts to add more healthier choices to the McDonald's menu, and allow parents to substitute juice and apple slices for fries and soft drinks for their children. The "Supersize" option was also eliminated. During his brief tenure, his initiatives resulted in a successful turnaround in McDonald's fortunes,[6][7] with the stock price rising 24%.[8] Bell was also responsible for introducing the McCafe, a coffeehouse franchise that serves gourmet coffee, cakes and pastries and premium teas.[9]

Illness and death

Soon after becoming CEO, Bell was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had surgery on May 7, 2004, just over two weeks after taking over as CEO. He continued working for a time, but eventually resigned on November 22, 2004 to battle the disease, which became incurable. Bell was succeeded by vice chairman Jim Skinner as CEO and by Michael Roberts as president.

In December 2004, McDonald's paid for the terminally-ill Bell to be returned to his native Australia in a specially equipped jet. He died shortly afterwards at his apartment in the city with his family around him.

The deaths of Cantalupo and Bell, who died relatively young, led some to wonder whether being an executive at a company which produced allegedly "unhealthy food" led to their illnesses, particularly as Bell was known to eat McDonald's products often. Similarly, two successive CEOs of Wendy's Jim Near and Gordon Teter, died in their fifties of heart attacks. It is not known whether Bell's diet contributed to his cancer.[10] McDonald's, which had already began to add "healthier" choices, such as salads, fruits, bottled water, and skim milk, to compliment the flagship fast-food items, continues, perhaps out of the controversy surrounding the caloric content of their regular menu items, to eliminate "Trans-fat" from all of their menu items.


Bell was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in June 2005,[11] however the award was made retrospective to 17 June 2004.[12]

Other appointments

Bell held the following appointments:[13]

File:McCafe logo.jpg


  1. From NNDB
  2. Biography
  3. 3.0 3.1 *Reed, Christopher (2004) "Burger king who revived chain with salads: James Richard Cantalupo, Businessman, 1943-2004" (obituary reprinted from The Guardian) in The Sydney Morning Herald, 2004-04-22, p. 30
  4. Template error: argument title is required. 
  5. "Sad day at McDonald's", CNN, 19 April 2004. 
  6. "Big Mac's Makeover: McDonald's Turned Around", The Economist, 14 October 2004. Retrieved on 2008-04-08. 
  7. Charlie Bell's Rise to the Top
  8. Warner, Melanie. "Charles Bell, 44, Former Chief Executive of McDonald's, Dies", The New York Times, 17 January 2005. 
  9. Australian chief breaks tradition at McDonald's
  10. Posthumous
  11. S9
  12. It's an Honour
  13. McDonald's Press Release 01/17/2005

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