Bob Iger Family History


Robert Allen Iger, better known as the Disney CEO Bob Iger, was born on February 10th, 1951 to Arthur and Mimi Iger in New York City.

Bob grew up in Oceanside, New York and attended local schools.  He later described himself as “a lower middle-class kid with modest education and not superhuman skills.”  In eighth grade he was working as a stock boy in a hardware store. At fifteen he toiled as a janitor for his school district.

After graduating from Ithaca College in 1974, he got his first job at the television company ABC.  He started at the bottom, doing menial work for $150 per week on game shows, soap operas and newscasts.

By dint of hard work and a fierce will to succeed, he rose through the ranks of ABC.  His breakthrough moment came at the time of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics where his calmness under pressure and ABC’s sky-high ratings caught the attention of ABC’s senior executives.  In 1994 he was appointed ABC’s President.

A year later Disney acquired ABC and Bob Iger joined the ranks of Disney executives.  In 2005 he became the Disney CEO, a position he still holds.

At Disney he has been a deal-maker supreme – acquiring such properties as Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox – and pushed Disney back into the front rank of entertainment companies.  In so doing, he has learnt how to deal with the big beasts of his industry – notably Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch and Elon Musk.

Jewish Emigrants to New York

Iger is not a common name.  Yet in Europe it is found in a number of places.  It appeared in Normandy in NW France of unknown origins.  It also appeared in the Rhine-Palatine region of Germany.  Here the name may have originated from the small village of Igerheim.  And it is a Jewish name as well, possibly derived from the Hebrew word for “pine.”

Bob Iger’s Jewish ancestors came from Galicia – an area once Polish, in the 19th century Austrian, and now part of western Ukraine.  Jews had been living there since the 17th century, possibly earlier.  Although a Jewish middle class had developed, most Jewish workers continued to toil in small shops under poor working conditions and for low wages.

Ternopil was the most Jewish town in Galicia.  Jews accounted for roughly half of its population of 27,000 in the late 19th century.  And it was the home of Jacob and Rosina Iger who had gotten married there in 1898.  So why did they leave with their two young children three years later?

Well, there was rising antisemitism at home, if not the pogroms seen elsewhere in the region.  Massive Jewish emigration to America was already happening.  And America did seem to offer the opportunity to make a new start for poor people like Jacob and Rosina. 

On their arrival in New York in 1901, the family moved to the Lower East Side and Jacob found work in the garment trade.  After a while he was starting to do well for himself as a tailor of women’s clothing.  In 1909 he had the idea of moving to Oklahoma and selling his women’s clothing there.  It did not work out well.

Within three years he was back with his family in New York, this time in Brooklyn, where he worked as a tailor at a dress house.  It was also said that he did pressing at Blatt Brothers & Love.

Jerry and Arthur Iger

Jacob and Rosina raised four children in New York – Gussie, Joe, Jerry, and Bella – of which one son, born Samuel but always known as Jerry, would become well-known in his own right.

Jerry Iger.  The early signs were not propitious,  He may have had polio when he was a child.  He was also unusually small as a boy and his school mates would call him Pee-Wee.

But he had a talent.  He had no formal art training.  Yet in the early 1920’s while still a teenager, he managed to get a job as a cartoonist for Hearst’s New York American.  By 1928 he had written and drawn his own newspaper comic strip, Mickey and His Gang, that was syndicated.

Then in the 1930’s Jerry was in the vanguard of the upcoming comic book market – as head of the Eisner & Iger Studio (which became the S.M. Iger Studio after Will Eisner left in 1940).  With fifteen writers, artists and letterers on the staff, his team produced entire comic books on demand for publishing companies.

This era was known as the Golden Age of Comic Books and Jerry Iger was one of its key players.  After Jerry’s death in 1990 (he left no family), he was inducted posthumously into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

Arthur Iger.  A second notable in this Iger line was Jerry’s nephew Arthur.  He was the son of Jerry’s older brother Joe.  And Arthur was Bob’s father.

A generation later than Jerry, Arthur was able to get an education.  After World War Two he graduated with an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.  His professional career included stints at the advertising agency Cunningham and Walsh, Macmillan Publishing, and Greenvale Marketing Corp.  After retiring, he became an adjunct professor of marketing and advertising at the New York Institute of Technology.

There was lightness and darkness to his life.  During the 1940’s he was a professional jazz trumpeter.  His deep love of jazz and Tin Pan Alley led him to write in 1998 his book Music of the Golden Age, 1900-1950 and Beyond. But Arthur also suffered from manic depression and his life at home could be awkward and unpredictable.

His son Bob recalled:  “We never knew which Dad was coming home at night.  I can distinctly recall sitting in my room on the second floor of our house, knowing by the sound of the way he opened and shut the door and walked up the steps whether it was happy or sad Dad.”

Then at his death in 2010, Bob said:

“My father was a very special man, filled with curiosity and passion and a true lover of jazz, but above all, he adored his family, his wife, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was truly blessed and he will be deeply missed.”

Bob Iger’s Family Tree

  • Jacob Iger (b. 1874) m. Rosina (Rosa) Iger (b. 1874) in Ternopil (then part of Austria) in 1898 and came to New York in 1901
  • – Augusta (Gussie) Iger (b. 1899), born in Austria
  • – Joseph (Joe) Iger (b. 1900), born in Austria
  • – Samuel (Jerry) Iger (1903-1990) born in New York, m. Louise Hirsch (later divorced)
  • – Bella Iger (b. 1904), born in New York
  • Joseph (Joe) Iger m. Eva Zwern (b. 1903) in New York
  • – Arthur Iger (1926-2010)
  • Arthur Iger m. Miriam (Mimi) Tunick (1927-2013) in  New York in 1947
  • – Robert (Bob) Iger (b. 1951)
  • – Carolyn Iger (b. 1953) m. Eli Zamek
  • Robert (Bob) Iger m. Kathleen Susan (b. 1947) in New York in 1975, divorced in 1994; rem. Kristine (Willow) Bay (b. 1963) in 1995
  • – Kathleen (Katie) Iger (b. 1979) with Kathleen, m. Jarrod Cushing
  • – Amanda Iger (b. 1982), with Kathleen
  • – Maxwell (Max) Iger (b. 1998) with Willow
  • – William (Will) Iger (b. 2002) with Willow


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Written by Colin Shelley

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