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Conrad Nicholson Hilton was born in San Antonio, New Mexico, the son of Augustus Halvorson Hilton (1854-1919) and grandson of Halvor Nilsen Hilton, who were from Norway, and Mary Genevieve Laufersweiler (1861-1947), an American with German roots.
Conrad Hilton was educated at New Mexico Military Institute, also at St. Michael’s College (now called College of Santa Fe) and at New Mexico School of Mine (now called New Mexico Tech). In his early 20 years, he was a Republican representative in the first legislature of the newly formed state of New Mexico.
At the university, Conrad Hilton was a member of the international Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Quickly, after the United States entered the First World War, in 1917, Conrad Hilton enlisted in the United States Army and was sent to the officer training command. While Conrad was in the army his father died in a traffic accident.
In collaboration with his father, Conrad had helped build a hostel and also a warehouse in Socorro County, New Mexico, but then moved to Texas. He started with the hotel business with the purchase of the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas, in 1919. That same year he continued to buy numerous hotels in Texas but the first big growth was in the hotel he built, the Dallas Hilton (now called Hotel Indigo), which opened in 1925. Followed by the Hilton Abilene hotel in 1927, Waco Hilton in 1928 and El Paso Hilton in 1930. Its first hotel outside of Texas was La Posada de Albuquerque, which was built in 1939 in Albuquerque , New Mexico.
Conrad created the Hilton Hotels Corporation in 1946, followed by Hilton International Company in 1948. The company expanded with traveler services such as the use of credit cards, car rentals and more.
During the great depression, Hilton was forced into bankruptcy and lost several of his hotels, but he continued as a manager. Later, the hotels he lost were repurchased again by Hilton.
In the post-war period, 1950-1960, the worldwide expansion of Hilton Hotels facilitated both the business of US corporations abroad and tourism within the United States. At the same time this promulgated a certain world standard for accommodation.
This was the first international hotel chain. In 1966, Conrad Hilton was succeeded to the presidency of the hotel chain by his son Barron and was elected director.
Hilton had three wives and four children.
- Conrad Nicholson “Nicky” Hilton, Jr. (1926-1969) was Elizabeth Taylor’s first husband, Conrad Nicholson Jr. died at the age of 42 because of a heart attack.
- William Barron Hilton born on October 23, 1927, is the current co-director of the Hilton Hotel Chain and grandfather of Conrad, Nicky and Paris Hilton
- Eric Michael Hilton born in 1933
- Constance Francesca Hilton (1947-2015), daughter of Zsa Zsa Gabor a Hungarian-American actress who, according to the book she authored One Lifetime Is Not Enough (“One Life Is Not Enough”) her pregnancy turned out to be violated by Conrad Hilton. Francesca died of a heart attack at age 67 on January 5, 2015.
Conrad Hilton died of natural causes on January 3, 1979 in Santa Monica, California at the age of 91. He was buried in Calvary Hill Cemetery, in Dallas, Texas. Calvary Hill is a Catholic cemetery.
Conrad left $ 50,000 to each of his children and $ 100,000 to each of his nephews and his daughter Francesca. All the rest of his fortune was donated to the “Conrad N. Hilton Foundation”, which he founded in 1944. However, Conrad’s son, Barron, claimed his father’s wish resulting in a negotiated agreement with the foundation, under this agreement the parties agree to divide the total into three parts: Barron Hilton would receive four million dollars, the Conrad Foundation would receive 3.5 million dollars and the remaining 6 million would be deposited “W. Barron Hilton Charitable Remainder Unitrust” once Barron Hilton dies.
More Facts about Conrad Hilton
|Net Worth Stats||$1 Billion|
|Born||December 25, 1887, San Antonio, New Mexico, United States|
|Died||January 3, 1979, Santa Monica, California, United States|
|What He/She Does||BusinessmanAmerican hotelier, founder of the Hilton Hotels chain|
|Alma Mater||Goss Military (New Mexico Military Institute), New Mexico School of Mines (now New Mexico Tech), and the St. Michael�s College (now Santa Fe University of Art and Design)|
|Relationships||Mary Frances Kelly (m. 1976�1979), Zsa Zsa G�bor (m. 1942�1947), Mary Adelaide Barron (m. 1925�1945)|
|Children||William Barron Hilton, Constance Francesca Hilton, Eric Michael Hilton, Conrad Nicholson “Nicky” Hilton, Jr|
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