2007 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"It's important to always have a goal in front of you."
Sid Craig's mother came to North Dakota from Romania when she was 13. She immediately married and had a baby at age 14. Another son soon followed. These were Sid Craig's older half siblings. "My mother was a hard worker," says Craig. "She slowly brought over her entire family from the Old Country-her mother and her two brothers and a sister. She was working in a dress shop when she met my father, a gambler who had been able to save a small nest egg. My mother told him that if he quit gambling, married her, and bought her a dress shop in Canada, she would support him with her earnings and he would never have to work again. My father accepted her offer." After Craig's mother divorced her first husband, she and Craig's father moved to Vancouver, Canada, where Sid Craig was born. When he was two, the family moved to Alhambra, California.
With dreams of her youngest child becoming the male version of Shirley Temple, Sid Craig's mother managed to get him into a few movies as a child. He was in six Our Gang comedies, also known as The Little Rascals series, and was in one movie with Bing Crosby. From age 13, he began working at regular jobs. He had a paper route and was also a box boy in a grocery store.
During high school and junior college at Mt. San Antonio, Craig worked at PEP Boys. As a junior at Fresno State, he paid for his tuition working as a part-time dance teacher at Arthur Murray's Dance Studio. He served in the Navy and then returned to Arthur Murray's to manage the studio where he had taught. Craig began buying Arthur Murray studios and, along with a group, eventually bought the entire company.
After moving to Los Angeles, Craig decided to sell his company and look for a new business in which to invest. In 1970, he acquired a partnership in a small chain of ladies figure salons. He formed a new corporation, Body Contour, Inc., and began to rapidly expand the company to national status. His first stop to open a salon was New Orleans. He hired his future wife, Jenny, as the manager of that center. Soon, Jenny was supervising all the centers in the southern states. After opening 200 centers, and both having been divorced from their previous marriages, Jenny and Sid formed a lifelong partnership. They married in 1979.
In 1982, the Craigs sold their interest in Body Contour, Inc., and moved to Australia to develop a chain of weight-loss centers that emphasized health and long-term weight maintenance. Based on the theory that a healthy body could be achieved through nutritious eating, physical activity, and positive lifestyle changes, Jenny Craig, Inc., had begun. Today, Jenny Craig International is one of the world's largest weight-management companies, with approximately 800 centers in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Proud of all they had achieved together and ready for retirement, they sold the company in 2006.
When asked about their success, Sid Craig says, "This Horatio Alger Award is probably one of the greatest measures of success and we're honored to receive it. We were successful with our business because we set achievable goals. Once we met one goal, we went on to the next. It's important to always have a goal in front of you."* Deceased