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Charlie Bell (November 7, 1960 - 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 from April to November of 2004. Bell was the first non-American to hold that position.
Bell began his career at McDonald's at the age of 15, working at the Kingsford restaurant in Sydney, Australia. 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.
He quickly rose through the ranks of corporate McDonald's and when CEO Jim Cantalupo died suddenly in 2004, Bell was chosen to take his place. During his short time at the head of the company, its greatest problem was criticism of the healthiness of its food, which was exacerbated by the release of the documentary film Supersize 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 sodas for their children. The "supersize" option was also eliminated.
Soon after becoming CEO, Bell was diagnosed with colon cancer. He continued working for a time, but eventually resigned to battle the disease, of which he soon died. In December 2004 McDonald's paid for the terminally-ill Bell to be returned to his native Australia in a specially equipped jet. The deaths of Cantalupo and Bell, who died relatively young, have 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.
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