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Conrad Hilton and American Cancer Society (page 20)

Conrad Hilton and American Cancer Society (page 20)

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Published by Ben Cohen
On page 20, Conrad Hilton is listed as a member of the American Cancer Society's public information committee (via www.hrm.uh.edu/cnhc/DownloadFile.asp?f=9332).
On page 20, Conrad Hilton is listed as a member of the American Cancer Society's public information committee (via www.hrm.uh.edu/cnhc/DownloadFile.asp?f=9332).

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Published by: Ben Cohen on Oct 11, 2010
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02/14/2011

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© All copyrights reserved by Cathleen Baird ~ 2002
C
onrad
N
.
H
ilton
Innkeeper ExtraordinaryStatesman and Philanthropist
1887 - 1979
C
athleen
D
.
B
aird,
D
irector &
A
rchivistHospitality Industry Archives
Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant ManagementHouston, Texas
Updated April 2, 2004 with information from additional primary and secondary resources.
© Copyrighted by Cathleen D. Baird 2004
 
I
NTRODUCTION
 
As a man of vision, Conrad Nicholson Hilton built the largest hotel real estate empire of his time —Hilton Hotels Corporation — and served as its chairman until his death on January 3, 1979
1
. Hiscommitment to world peace and economic stability was combined with a vigorous program to develop aglobal-system of world-class hotels. He established standards of quality for the entire hospitality industryin the fields of hotel management and operations.Mr. Hilton was one of seven children born to a Norwegian immigrant father and a German-American mother in the small town of San Antonio, New Mexico on Christmas Day, 1887. Hilton waseducated at St. Michael’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico; the New Mexico Military Institute; and theNew Mexico School of Mines. He leaned about active responsibility for local and state communitiesfrom his father, August Holver Hilton. August was a delegate to the first New Mexico territoriallegislature, and Conrad served a term in the first New Mexico state legislature before enlisting as a secondlieutenant in World War I.When Conrad Hilton visited the small Texas town of Cisco in June 1919, he was quick to see thebusiness potential from the Eastland and Ranger oil fields, and from railroad travelers. He had arrived inCisco with the intention to buy a local bank, but he bought the Mobley Hotel instead, believing he couldutilize some of the hotelkeeping experience he learned with his family’s hotel operation in New Mexico.In spite of the 1920 depression that saw the failure of 11 of that region's 13 banks, Hilton operated theMobley at a profit with rooms frequently rented in eight-hour shifts in order to provide oil field workerswith much needed places to sleep. Moreover, he purchased a second hotel in Fort Worth, the Melba, inOctober 1919, and in 1920, two more small Texas hotels.By the end of 1923, Conrad Hilton had 530 hotel rooms in Texas and he began to dream aboutbuilding the first hotel to carry the Hilton name. The equity and the profits from those first four ‘flophouses
2
’ enabled Hilton to construct the first hotel that carried his name, the Dallas Hilton. This hotelopened August 2, 1925 and was so successful that he received many invitations to build or manage hotelsall over North Texas.When the stock market crash occurred in 1929, eighty-one percent of the nation’s hotels fell intobankruptcy. Hilton was only able to retain five of his eight Texas hotels. However, during this phase of his career, he learned to operate with economy — one of the keys to his future success. During the worstyears of the Depression, Hilton was able to make a financial agreement with the National HotelsCorporation, owned by the Moody family of Galveston, Texas. According to the agreement, Hiltondirected
19 hotels
as president of Hilton Hotels, Inc. and was the general manager of the Moody’sNational Hotels Corporation.We know a few details about Hilton’s ownership/management partnership with W. L. Moody andhis son Shearn Moody from
 
Conrad Hilton’s biography
 Be My Guest 
and from the
Official Hotel Red 
1
Conrad Hilton died from pneumonia in St. John’s Hospital, in Santa Monica, California, following a three-day hospitalization.At that time, in HHC operated $300 million worth of hotels in the US and abroad. Hilton owned 30 percent of HHC stock. Hewas survived by his third wife; two sons, Barron and Eric Hilton, a daughter, Francesca and his grandchildren.
2
Newspapers of the day described the small transient hotels as “flop houses”.
 Dallas Morning News, August 2, 1925.
 
Conrad N. Hilton College Library and Archives page 2
Cathleen Baird, Director and Archivist 
 Book and Directory
for the years 1931 through 1934. The Moodys controlled the American LifeInsurance company of Galveston as well as ownership of the Galveston baseball team, banks, hotels andnewspapers. Conrad Hilton received a $300,000 loan from the Moodys by putting up Hilton Hotels, Inc.stock as security. In December 1931, the Moodys foreclosed on the loan and took over the Hilton hotels.In return, the Moodys offered Hilton the management of his own hotels along with management of theirhotels. The Hilton and Moody hotels were merged into the National Hotel Company with Conrad Hiltonholding one-third ownership with a salary of $18,000 per year. The relationship, a very stormy oneaccording to
 Be My Guest,
ended in 1934. The Moodys returned to Conrad Hilton the ownership of theHilton Hotels in Lubbock, Dallas and Plainview along with a loan of $95,000. With that money, Hiltonwas able to pay off some other loans, and the five hotels began showing a healthy profit. Shortlythereafter, Hilton re-acquired the El Paso Hilton and a hotel in Longview (Texas) that he renamed theLongview Hilton.In a
 Red Book’s
1933 edition print ad
3
 
“Hilton Operated Hotels from Alabama to California,”
eighthotels were advertised The ad lists Hilton-named hotels in
Dallas, Waco, Marlin, Abilene, San Angelo,Lubbock, Plainview, El Paso and Los Angeles, California
.
4
 
The print advertisements provide the onlydocumentation we have for a Hilton hotel in Los Angeles Hilton
5
. The 350-room Los Angeles Hiltonhotel was managed by Conrad Hilton’s business partner, William R. Irwin as President and by E. S.Morey as manager. Rooms rented for $2.50 to $6.00 per night. This hotel has returned to the Hiltonfamily as the
Hilton Checkers Hotel
!
 
By 1939, Hilton’s Texas hotel debts were paid in full and he began expanding his companyoutside the state with the purchase of hotel properties in San Francisco and Long Beach, California.
Figure 1.
Conrad Hilton is shown here at his desk in his Los Angeles office sometime in the early 1940s.
Photo from the Conrad N. Hilton Collection, Hospitality Industry Archives, University of Houston.
 
On the more personal side, Conrad Hilton did not consider marriage until 1925, when at the age of 38 he married Mary Barron — just one month following the grand opening celebration for the DallasHilton hotel. They had three children, Conrad N., Jr., William Barron and Eric Michael. However, thecouple divorced in 1934, a casualty of the Depression, according to Conrad Hilton. A fourth child,Francesca, was born during his second marriage, to Zsa Zsa Gabor. On Christmas Day, 1977, also his
3
 
1933
Official Hotel Red Book and Directory
, p. 679
4
 
Other Texas hotels [operated by Hilton for
National Hotels Corporation
] were located in Galveston, Big Spring,Brownwood, Cisco, Ranger, Kilgore, Beaumont, Donna, and Austin. There were no Hilton print ads for Hilton’sTexas hotels in the 1934 issue of 
Official Hotel Red Book and Directory.
The 1935
Official Hotel Red Book and  Directory
contains no Hilton print ads. However the 1936 edition listed the Hilton-named hotels in Dallas, El Paso,Abilene, Lubbock, Plainview, and Longview
.
The ad included the corporate
“Minimax”
logo and the slogan that“Hilton guests pay minimum rates for maximum service.” An additional slogan reads “Hilton Hotels are asrefreshing as the breath of pine.”
 
5
1933
 Red Book,
on page 42.
 
 
Conrad N. Hilton College Library and Archives page 3
Cathleen Baird, Director and Archivist 
89th birthday, Mr. Hilton married Mary Frances Kelly, whom he had known since the El Paso Hiltonopening in 1930.
6
 
Figure 2. Hilton's Private "Statesmanship" of "World Peace through International Trade and Travel” facilitatenegotiations for hotels in key cities around the world. Photo from the Conrad N. Hilton Collection, Hospitality Industry Archives, University of Houston.
7
 
Conrad Hilton acquired his fame as the hotelman who owned prestigious landmark hotels — theSteven’s (at one time the largest hotel in the world, now called the Chicago Hilton and Towers) and thePalmer House in Chicago; the Plaza and Waldorf-Astoria in New York; the Townhouse in Beverly Hills;the Mayflower in Washington, DC, and the entire chain of Statler Hotels.
8
But Hilton earned success bypurchasing these hotels when they were unprofitable, and then turned each one into an exceptionallyprofitable operation. Consequently, he became a popular businessman or "icon" for his time, similartoday to Microsoft’s Bill Gates. According to various 1950s hotel trade publications, Hilton set financialmanagement standards for controlling the cost of hotel operations with a "magic formula." He requiredhis department heads to calculate departmental costs, and to evaluate the actual cost at the month's end.For the first time, hotel management could predict the amount of staff and provisions required to meetcorporate operational standards and guest expectations, and still maintain maximum gross operatingprofits. Individual hotel departments became responsible for drastically reducing costs and increasingprofits in an unprecedented proportion — without reducing guest services.The Hilton landmark hotels provide examples: Hilton purchased the luxurious Plaza Hotel in1943 and in spite of war-time restrictions, his staff completed important decorative and mechanicalrenovations that increased the hotel's operational and revenue producing efficiency. The company calledthis management tactic "mining for gold."
9
The Plaza increased its overall profits by eight percent, whichenabled the hotel to spend $500,000 each year for improving facilities. According to Frank Wangeman,onetime Plaza general manager, a new salad bar lunch attracted the young professionals working in theneighborhood as well as the elderly ladies residing in the hotel. This augmented dining room revenue,
6
Conrad Hilton died in January 1979.
7
Many magazine articles linked hotel expansion and Hilton's philosophy of world peace. Lawrence M. Hughes referred to thisas statesmanship in the article "Hilton's Private 'Statesmanship' Shapes World-Wide Hotel Empire."
Sales Management 
, October19, 1956. p. 31
8
When Conrad Hilton bought the Statler Hotel chain for $111 million, it was recognized as the largest transfer of real estate inAmerica since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
9
See the Sperl “Red Ellison Oral History Interview for more “Digging for Gold” details.

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