Charles Hollis "Chuck" Taylor (June 24, 1901 – June 23, 1969) was an American basketball player and shoe salesman/evangelist. He is best known for his association with the Chuck Taylor All-Stars sneaker, the most successful selling basketball shoe in history.
The Converse All-Star shoe, which on the bottom says "one star", one of the first especially designed to be worn when playing basketball, was introduced in the 1910s. Taylor started wearing them in 1917 as a high school basketball player. In 1921, Taylor went to the Converse Shoes Chicago sales offices in search of a job, where S.R. "Bob" Pletz, an avid sportsman, then hired him.
Within a year, Taylor's suggestions of changing the design of the shoe to provide enhanced flexibility and support, and also including patch to protect the ankle, were adopted. The All-Star star logo was then immediately included on the patch. By 1923 Chuck Taylor's name was added to the patch, and the shoe became the Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
Chuck Taylor was an exceptional representative for Converse. Joe Dean, who worked as a sales executive for Converse for nearly 30 years before becoming the athletic director at Louisiana State University, told Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer, "It was impossible not to like him, and he knew everybody. If you were a coach and you wanted to find a job, you called Chuck Taylor. Athletic directors talked to him all the time when they were looking for a coach."
Taylor received a salary from Converse, but received no commission for any of the 600 million pairs of Chuck Taylor shoes that have been sold. For years, he drove a white Cadillac across the country with a trunk full of shoes, living in motels, and with only a locker in the company's Chicago warehouse as a permanent residence. Author Abraham Aamidor, however, points out that Taylor wasn't sparing in use of the Converse expense account.
Taylor promoted basketball internationally; it became an Olympic sport in 1936. White high-tops originated in 1947 for the 1948 Olympics.
During WWII, Taylor became fitness consultant for the US military. GIs were soon doing calisthenics whilst wearing Chuck Taylor sneakers that had become the official sneaker of the US Armed Forces.
By 1966 Converse had a 80% of the US sneaker market. In 1968, Taylor retired. Just one day short of his 68th birthday in June 1969 Taylor died of a heart attack in Port Charlotte, Florida.