Reuters file
McDonald's named Charlie Bell as chief executive officer after Chairman and CEO Jim Cantalupo unexpectedly died of an apparent heart attack on Monday.
By
updated 4/20/2004 1:13:05 PM ET 2004-04-20T17:13:05

McDonald's new chief executive, Charlie Bell, joins a small group of individuals who have made it to the top of their fields before the age of 45.

Bell, 43 years old, was named CEO following the death of James Cantalupo Monday morning in Orlando, Florida, where the company was holding a franchisee convention. He was in the middle of a massive turnaround of the fast-food giant of which Bell was a large part of.

Bell began his career at McDonald's as a teenager flipping burgers at one of its Australian outlets. He moved up the ladder and became president and chief operating officer. He had been rumored to be in line for the CEO position but not so soon.

Of course most CEOs aren't pushed into the spotlight under such circumstances and at such a young age. The following table highlights the CEOs under the age of 43 at the top 500 U.S. firms on the Forbes 2000 list of leading companies. The youngest on the list is Richard Dugas Jr, the 38-year-old in charge of Pulte Homes. He's been with the home builder since 1994 and was named CEO last year. He's closely followed by 39-year-old Michael Dell, who founded his namesake firm in 1984 with $1,000.

© 2012 Forbes.com

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