Peterman graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1963 and played third base on a Holy Cross baseball team that went to the College World Series. He also played baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for three years as a second baseman.
He was parodied in the 1990s on Seinfeld, and his name became a household word as it was regularly seen by over 60 million television viewers. The J. Peterman Company had sales of over $75 million at its peak. However, after opening several retail stores, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 1999, and the brand name was sold to the Paul Harris Company.
Later, when the Paul Harris Company went out of business, Peterman was able to purchase the rights to his own name as a brand, with funding help from John O'Hurley, the actor who portrayed J. Peterman on Seinfeld With the help of a core group from the original company (creative director, William McCullam, marketing director Jonathan Dunavant, merchant Paula Collins and director of manufacturing Kyle Foster), The J. Peterman Company was relaunched.
John Peterman wrote a book about the company's trials, Seinfeld influence, and more called Peterman Rides Again (ISBN 0-7352-0199-4).
Peterman is the father-in-law to actor Steve Zahn.
J. PETERMAN SAILS FROM "SEINFELD" TO "TITANIC": OFFBEAT CATALOGER, AND SOON-TO-BE RETAIL CHAIN, GETS BOOSTS FROM SUPER HITS.(movies and television program boost sales, interview with John Peterman)(Interview)
Mar 30, 1998; Thanks in part to Jerry Seinfeld, J. Peterman is becoming a household name in America. But even before Seinfeld's friend Elaine...