Contact Us

The Real 'Most Interesting Man In The World' Celebrates 100th Birthday

Former IRS Commissioner Mort Caplin, the founder of tax law boutique Caplin & Drysdale, celebrated his 100th birthday this month.


In honor of Mort's birthday, we're looking back over some of his many accomplishments. We snapped this photograph of the longtime lawyer in his office back in 2014, when he was celebrating the 50th anniversary of Caplin & Drysdale and the 70th anniversary of D-Day

We also snapped Mort in his 1 Thomas Circle NW office at age 94.

Mort was a Navy beachmaster during the WWII Normandy landing. He later received the Legion d'Honneur from French President Nicolas Sarkozy for his services in liberating the country.

After serving in the Navy, Mort graduated from UVA Law. He later taught there for more than 30 years—with students including Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy—and was the school's first Jewish law professor. He's stayed involved with the school throughout his life.

Mort and his late wife, Ruth, donated $4M to build the 300-seat Ruth Caplin Theatre at UVA, and founded the Mortimer Caplin Conference on the World Economy. In 2001, UVA honored Mort with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Medal in Law, the school's highest honor.


Mort was appointed to head the IRS by President John F. Kennedy. Just a few months after Kennedy took office in 1961, he visited the IRS. He is the first and only president to have done so.

Hamilton lovers, take note: for Mort's work as IRS Commissioner (such as facilitating the first computerized tax records), he was honored with the Alexander Hamilton Award, the highest honor given by the Secretary of the Treasury.

After leaving the IRS in '64, Mort founded Caplin & Drysdale. He recruited heavily from the ranks of Supreme Court clerks, and instilled the importance of service to your country. The tax law boutique is still going strong, and has grown to more than 70 lawyers.


Can we nominate Mort for the true "Most Interesting Man in the World?"

He was on the cover of TIME magazine. The image was also hanging, for a time, in the National Portrait Gallery.

A boxer in college and law school, Mort continued swimming nearly every morning before work until recently.


"He is a legend at the IRS," said current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen of Mort.

Former UVA Law Dean Robert Scott called Mort "an exemplar of a professional life well-lived."

What's Mort's advice for young lawyers? In a 2014 interview, he said they should "work as hard as they can, but keep public service very much in mind."

It's more than just billing hours, he told us. "Helping out the community and helping other people rounds out your life."