11 things that might surprise you about Ross Perot

Perot died Tuesday at age 89

A businessman, a self-made billionaire, a philanthropist and a former third-party presidential candidate: Ross Perot was many things.

Perot died Tuesday at the age of 89.

If you're old enough -- and that likely just means in your 30s! -- you probably remember him best from his presidential runs in the 1992 and 1996 elections -- and the fact that his ears stuck out, which you can still likely picture as a caricature in the newspaper. He was colorful. You might even be able to replay his quirky voice in your head.

Here are 11 way more impressive things you might not have known about Perot.

1.) He was born Henry Ray Perot, and at the age of 12, legally changed his name to Henry Ross Perot. He went by Ross, like his father and late brother Gabriel Ross Perot Jr.

2.) He didn’t come from much, and grew up during the Great Depression. But he started working at age 7, doing odd jobs such as delivering newspapers and selling Christmas cards, garden seeds and magazines.

3.) It was a $1,000 loan from Perot’s wife that helped him launch Electronic Data Systems Corp., a data processing business in Dallas. (Good investment, Mrs. Perot!)

4.) In 1968, EDS became a publicly traded company, which in time made Perot a billionaire. Fortune magazine called him the "fastest, richest Texan" and put him on the cover.

Ross Perot poses for a photo with Oakland Athletics mascot Stomper in September 1997 (Harry How/Getty Images).


5.) Very gutsy: In 1979, Perot financed a covert mission called Operation Hotfoot to rescue two EDS workers from an Iranian prison. This was later made into a book, authored by best-selling novelist Ken Follett, called "On Wings of Eagles."

6.) When Perot sold EDS to General Motors Co. for $2.5 billion and stock, he became GM's single largest stockholder and a director. In December 1986, Perot resigned from the GM board of directors as part of a buyout, and he sold his shares to receive more than $700 million.

7.) In November 1992, he got one of the largest percentages ever for an independent candidate in a presidential election (18.9%), but still came in third place behind Bill Clinton and incumbent George H.W. Bush.

Ross Perot attends the dedication ceremony for the new U.S. Air Force Memorial in October 2006 in Arlington, Virginia (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images).

8.) Perot founded the Reform Party -- and took 8% of the vote in as the Reform Party candidate in the 1996 presidential election. President Clinton was reelected.

9.) There’s a dinosaur named after him. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas named a new species after the family: Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum. The five Perot children previously gave the museum $50 million in honor of their parents.

10.) Perot was an Eagle Scout.

11.) Perot was once presented with the Winston Churchill Award by Britain's Prince Charles and U.S. first lady Nancy Reagan.

Ross Perot is sworn in prior to testifying before a California Senate committee July 11, 2002 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images).

Of course, it’s hard to encompass all who Perot was and everything he did in just one story or list. He became involved in issues surrounding prisoners of war during the Nixon administration, he received a special award from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2009, and in Texas, Perot led commissions on education reform and crime. He was awarded with many honorary degrees for his business success and patriotism, according to reports.

Read more: Billionaire tycoon Ross Perot dies at 89

And a final tip of the hat to Dana Carvey, whose impersonations of Perot brought down the house back in the '90s. Watch here.

Source: CNN's Ross Perot fast facts

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About the Author:

Michelle is the Managing Editor of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which writes for all of the company's news websites.