212. Leandro Rizzuto & family
$3.5 billion ( self-made score: source: consumer Products age: 79 residence: sheridan, Wyo. dropout, st. John’s university The son of 2 Sicilian hairdressers, Rizzuto left St. John’s after 3½ years to join the family business. His father, who liked to fiddle with hair products, had invented bristle-brush hair rollers and planned to sell them to beauty salons. To fund the venture, which started in the family’s Brooklyn home, then 21-year-old Rizzuto sold his Cadillac and paid off the family debt in 1959. Thirteen years later, Rizzuto’s firm, Conair, introduced the iconic Yellowbird, a bright-yellow, pistol-grip hair dry-
er that didn’t shatter when dropped, making it a hit among professionals. Conair owns other consumer products, including the kitchen gadget line Cuisinart.