Wright was raised on Long Island, and joined GE as a staff attorney in 1969 shortly after passing the bar; by 1986, he'd become president of GE Financial Services. Following GE's 1986 acquisition of NBC for $6.3 billion, Wright took over the television network, replacing Grant Tinker. Given Wright's status as an outsider and corporate technocrat, the changing of the guard was initially greeted with skepticism by execs in the TV industry. In fact, Wright ignited a golden age at NBC: He sold off the company's radio assets and invested in cable (like CNBC, which launched in 1989), and although he wasn't picking programming, he oversaw the creative team during NBC's 1990s "Must See TV" heyday, when it consistently dominated primetime thanks to shows like Seinfeld, ER, and Friends.
A consummate dealmaker and negotiator, Wright saw the tail end of his tenure at NBC pass with less success: Without the stable of hit shows that had once made the network No. 1, NBC tumbled to last in the ratings. And although he was never perceived in the media world as an entertainment guy, and largely focused on business matters, not creative ones, his choice of an heir apparent, Jeff Zucker, looked a little misguided as the network continued to struggle. Nevertheless, when Wright's long-expected retirement came around, he announced that Zucker would fill his shoes and serve as NBC's CEO.
These days, Bob focuses on the non-profit foundation Autism Speaks he and his wife created on behalf of their grandson, Christian, who is autistic. It has become the largest organization representing families of people with autism, and in 2007 Autism Speaks bankrolled a documentary about life with autism, Autism Every Day, in which Christian makes an appearance. [Image via Getty]