Name at birth: Conrad Nicholson Hilton
Conrad Hilton founded the international chain of business hotels which bear his name. He bought his first hotel in 1919, and founded the first so-named Hilton Hotel in 1925 in Dallas, Texas. Hilton Hotels grew into the first coast-to-coast hotel chain, placing a special emphasis on the business traveler, and Hilton became one of the world's wealthiest men. He also purchased other prestigious inns, including the Sir Francis Drake in San Francisco, New York's Waldorf-Astoria, and the Palmer House in Chicago. Hilton's son Barron followed him as head of the company, which by the year 2000 had nearly 500 hotels around the world. Conrad Hilton died in 1979, leaving the bulk of his estate to his philanthropic organization, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. He also endowed the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. His 1957 autobiography was titled Be My Guest.
Hilton had three sons by his first wife, Mary Barron: Conrad, Jr.; William Barron; and Eric Michael… He had a daughter, Francesca, with his second wife, the actress Zsa Zsa Gabor (married 1942-47)… Hilton’s son Conrad Jr. (“Nicky”) was the first husband of actress Elizabeth Taylor; the couple were married from 1950-51… Hilton is the great-grandfather of party girls Paris and Nicky Hilton… He was played by actor Chelcie Ross on episodes of the TV show Mad Men in 2009.
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