Charles Edison was born 3 August 1890 in West Orange, New Jersey. He was the son of the inventor Thomas Edison. In 1909, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated in 1913 with a degree in electrical engineering. After a brief stint in theater, his father put him to work at the Edison Illuminating Company, where he soon rose through the ranks to become manager of the Edison Phonograph Company and the Edison Storage Battery Company. In 1916, Edison became chairman of all Edison related industries, and he assumed the presidency of Thomas A. Edison Inc. in 1926. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn into office, Edison served as a member of the New Jersey State Recovery Board as the state director of the National Emergency Council and as a member of the National Industrial Recovery Board. He also served as a regional director for the Federal Housing Administration.
In 1937, Edison was named Assistant Secretary of the Navy, although Secretary of the Navy Claude Swanson had constant health issues that required Edison to step in as Secretary of the Navy. After Swanson died in 1940, Edison was appointed Secretary of the Navy. Edison remained at the post only five and a half months before resigning to run as governor of New Jersey. After serving one term as governor, Edison returned to the private sector, where he established the charitable Brook Foundation. He died on 31 July 1969 in New York City.