Conrad Hilton - Hoteliers, Birthday and Family

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Conrad Hilton's Personal Details

Conrad Hilton was an American hotelier who founded the Hilton Hotels chain

InformationDetail
BirthdayDecember 25, 1887
Died onJanuary 3, 1979
NationalityAmerican
FamousBusinessman, Hoteliers, Business People, Hoteliers
City/StateNew Mexico
SpousesZsa Zsa Gabor
SiblingsAugust H. Hilton, Baron Hilton, Carl H. Hilton, Eva C. Hilton, Felice A. Hilton, Helen A. Hilton, Julian Hilton, Rosemary J. Hilton
Childrens Conrad Nicholson
Universities
  • New Mexico Military Institute
  • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Founder / Co-Founder
  • Hilton Hotels
Birth PlaceSan Antonio, New Mexico Territory, United States of America
ReligionRoman Catholic
GenderMale
FatherAugustus Halvorsen
MotherMary Genevieve
Net Worth$2.3 billion
Sun SignCapricorn
Born inSan Antonio, New Mexico Territory, United States of America
Famous asAmerican Hotelier and Businessman
Died at Age91

// Famous Businessman

Conrad Hilton's photo

Who is Conrad Hilton?

Conrad Nicholson Hilton was an American hotelier, who single handedly established the Hilton Hotel chain, the first of its kind in post-World War I era. Born towards the end of nineteenth century to a hard working father, who owned a general store and a devout mother, he learned the value of both work and worship early in his life. Although his initial aim was to become a banker, he became an hotelier when he watched streams of visitors entering and leaving the hotel in which he was sitting. Subsequently, he bought the hotel and within a year recouped his investment not only by optimizing the use of space, but also by providing additional benefits to the guests. Thereafter, he went on to acquire seven more hotels until the Great Depression almost reduced him to bankruptcy. However, he did not dither from his goal and once the depression was over, he began to add more hotels to his chain. By the time he retired, the chain owned 188 hotels in 38 cities within the country and 54 hotels abroad.

// Famous Hoteliers

Childhood & Early Life

Conrad Nicholson Hilton was born on December 25, 1887 in San Antonio, New Mexico. His father, Augustus Halvorsen Hilton, was an immigrant from Norway while his mother, Mary Genevieve (née Laufersweiler) was an American citizen of German descent. The couple had eight children, out of which Conrad was born second.

When he turned 21, he joined his father’s general store on profit sharing basis but soon was frustrated by the lack of freedom. Therefore, he began to look for some other career opportunity and joined politics.

When the state of New Mexico was created in 1912, he was elected to its Legislature Assembly on the Republican ticket. He served the assembly for two terms but the governmental red tape as well as underhand deals soon frustrated him.

After expiry of his terms Conrad returned to San Antonio and raised enough money to start a bank. When in 1917, the United States of America joined the First World War, Conrad sold off his bank to join the war.

For two years Conrad served in the Quartermaster Corps in France and on being discharged in 1919, he went back to San Antonio. His father had died by that time and he had to take charge of his father's businesses, which was not really doing well.

Moreover, having seen the world, Conrad was not interested in living in a small town like San Antonio. Therefore, he started looking for some alternative. An old friend advised him to go to Texas, where the oil boom had already started.

Career

In 1919, Conrad Hilton set out for Wichita, where he tried to buy a bank and backed out when the seller raised the price at the last moment. Instead, he bought ‘Mobley Hotel’ in Cisco, Texas. It had 40 rooms and in spite of that he had to build additional rooms to cope with the demand.

From the beginning he believed in two principles. The first was ‘digging for gold’, which meant prudent use of space. For example, he noticed that the guests preferred to dine out and the hotel made very little money on food. Therefore, he converted the restaurant into additional guest rooms, which were in short supply.

His second principle was ‘esprit de corps’. It involved motivating the staff to provide excellent service and this he did by giving them credit when the guests were pleased with their stay at the hotel.

Moreover, he opened small shop windows in the lobby, which kept a variety of items such as newspapers, magazines, razors, toothbrushes, toothpastes etc. They not only earned additional revenue, but also helped to attract more guests. Very soon, ‘Hotel Mobley’ turned out to be a huge success.

Within one year, Hilton recouped the money he had invested in it. Subsequently, he bought the ‘Melba Hotel’ in Fort Worth and the ‘Waldorf’ in Dallas. Both these hotels were in bad condition, but after renovation they looked so magnificent that he began to call them ‘dowagers’.

In 1924, Hilton decided to build his own hotel, ‘Dallas Hilton’ which was opened to the public the following year. It was not only the first hotel that he built, but it was also the first hotel with the name ‘Hilton’ attached to it. However, not wanting to tie up his money, he took the land on lease for 99 years, a concept that was still new in Texas.

Thereafter, he built the ‘Abilene Hilton’ in 1927; ‘Waco Hilton’ in 1928; and ‘El Paso Hilton’ in 1930. Unfortunately, the Great Depression set in just then and had a very negative effect on hotel industry. At one point, Hilton was almost forced into bankruptcy, having a debt of $500,000.

Soon he was forced to give up many of his properties and start working as a manager in a combined hotel chain. During this bad period, he remembered his mother telling him that the prayer was the best investment he could make and indeed, it helped him a lot.

As the depression came to an end, Hilton was back into his hotel business. He not only bought back his old properties, but in 1939 he also built ‘Hotel Andaluz’ in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was his first hotel outside Texas.

Later he moved westward to buy ‘Breakers’ in Los Angeles and ‘Sir Francis Drake’ in San Francisco. In 1942, he shifted his headquarters to Los Angeles and from there he began to expand eastwards.

In 1943, he bought the ‘Roosevelt Hotel’ in New York City. Next in 1945, he acquired Chicago's ‘Palmer House’ and the ‘Stevens Hotel’, which was till then the largest hotel in the world, and after renovating it he renamed it ‘Conrad Hilton’.

Although it was very large, Hilton continued using his ‘digging for gold’ policy. He added an entire floor by dividing a ballroom horizontally and building it halfway between the original floor and the high ceiling.

So far, all his hotels were operated independently. In 1946, he formed ‘Hilton Hotel Corporation’ and had it listed under the New York Stock Exchange the following year. Hilton, with his $9 million worth of stock, was the largest shareholder.

Next in 1949, Hilton obtained ‘Hotel Caribe Hilton’ in San Juan, Puerto Rico on a 20-year lease. This was the group’s first hotel outside the United States and with it was born ‘Hilton International Company’, which became the first international hotel chain.

In October 1949 he fulfilled one of his long-cherished dreams and acquired the management rights of the prestigious ‘Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’ in New York City. The Hilton Hotels Corporation finally bought the hotel outright in 1972.

So far, Statler Hotels was his main competitor. In 1954, he purchased the company for a record price of $111,000,000. The move was possible because Hilton had earlier enlisted his company under New York Stock Exchange and so he was able to obtain additional capital from outside investors.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he kept on acquiring hotels both at home and abroad. Besides, he also acquired interest in other enterprises such as Carte Blanche Credit Company and American Crystal Sugar Company. However, they were not as successful as his hotel ventures.

In 1966, he gave up the active management of the company, naming his son Barron the President. However, he remained Chairman of the Board until his death almost 13 years later.

Major Works

The first major hotel that Conrad Hilton built was ‘Dallas Hilton’. For the site, he chose the highest point in downtown Dallas. The building consisted of 14 storeys and the hotel offered all kinds of services. Built at a cost of$1,360,000, the hotel was officially opened on August 6, 1925.

Among the other major hotels later acquired by Hilton were the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC, the Palmer House in Chicago, and the Plaza Hotel and Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

He is also known for his book, ‘Be My Guest’. Published in 1957, the book is still considered a sort of Bible to all hoteliers.

Philanthropic Work

In 1944, Conrad Hilton formed Conrad N. Hilton Foundation with the aim of “improving the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people throughout the world”. Before his death he bequeathed the bulk of his properties to this foundation.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1925, Conrad Hilton married Mary Adelaide Barron. The couple had three children; Conrad Nicholson Hilton Jr., William Barron Hilton, and Eric Michael Hilton. Later in 1934, when trouble broke out between the couple, he granted her a divorce going against his will and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1942, Hilton married Hungarian actress ZsaZsa Gabor in a civil ceremony. The marriage was a disaster from the beginning and ended in a divorce in 1946. They had one daughter Constance Francesca Hilton.

In 1976, Hilton married Mary Frances Kelly. This marriage happened in a church. Their union lasted until his death in 1979.

Hilton died from natural causes on January 3, 1979, at the age of 91. He was interred at Calvary Hill Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery in Dallas, Texas.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the trust he founded continues his legacy.

// Famous Business People

Conrad Hilton biography timelines

  • // 25th Dec 1887
    Conrad Nicholson Hilton was born on December 25, 1887 in San Antonio, New Mexico. His father, Augustus Halvorsen Hilton, was an immigrant from Norway while his mother, Mary Genevieve (née Laufersweiler) was an American citizen of German descent. The couple had eight children, out of which Conrad was born second.
  • // 1912
    When the state of New Mexico was created in 1912, he was elected to its Legislature Assembly on the Republican ticket. He served the assembly for two terms but the governmental red tape as well as underhand deals soon frustrated him.
  • // 1917
    After expiry of his terms Conrad returned to San Antonio and raised enough money to start a bank. When in 1917, the United States of America joined the First World War, Conrad sold off his bank to join the war.
  • // 1919
    For two years Conrad served in the Quartermaster Corps in France and on being discharged in 1919, he went back to San Antonio. His father had died by that time and he had to take charge of his father's businesses, which was not really doing well.
  • // 1919
    In 1919, Conrad Hilton set out for Wichita, where he tried to buy a bank and backed out when the seller raised the price at the last moment. Instead, he bought ‘Mobley Hotel’ in Cisco, Texas. It had 40 rooms and in spite of that he had to build additional rooms to cope with the demand.
  • // 1924
    In 1924, Hilton decided to build his own hotel, ‘Dallas Hilton’ which was opened to the public the following year. It was not only the first hotel that he built, but it was also the first hotel with the name ‘Hilton’ attached to it. However, not wanting to tie up his money, he took the land on lease for 99 years, a concept that was still new in Texas.
  • // 1925
    In 1925, Conrad Hilton married Mary Adelaide Barron. The couple had three children; Conrad Nicholson Hilton Jr., William Barron Hilton, and Eric Michael Hilton. Later in 1934, when trouble broke out between the couple, he granted her a divorce going against his will and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • // 1927 To 1930
    Thereafter, he built the ‘Abilene Hilton’ in 1927; ‘Waco Hilton’ in 1928; and ‘El Paso Hilton’ in 1930. Unfortunately, the Great Depression set in just then and had a very negative effect on hotel industry. At one point, Hilton was almost forced into bankruptcy, having a debt of $500,000.
  • // 1939
    As the depression came to an end, Hilton was back into his hotel business. He not only bought back his old properties, but in 1939 he also built ‘Hotel Andaluz’ in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was his first hotel outside Texas.
  • // 1942
    Later he moved westward to buy ‘Breakers’ in Los Angeles and ‘Sir Francis Drake’ in San Francisco. In 1942, he shifted his headquarters to Los Angeles and from there he began to expand eastwards.
  • // 1942 To 1946
    In 1942, Hilton married Hungarian actress ZsaZsa Gabor in a civil ceremony. The marriage was a disaster from the beginning and ended in a divorce in 1946. They had one daughter Constance Francesca Hilton.
  • // 1943
    In 1943, he bought the ‘Roosevelt Hotel’ in New York City. Next in 1945, he acquired Chicago's ‘Palmer House’ and the ‘Stevens Hotel’, which was till then the largest hotel in the world, and after renovating it he renamed it ‘Conrad Hilton’.
  • // 1944
    In 1944, Conrad Hilton formed Conrad N. Hilton Foundation with the aim of “improving the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people throughout the world”. Before his death he bequeathed the bulk of his properties to this foundation.
  • // 1946
    So far, all his hotels were operated independently. In 1946, he formed ‘Hilton Hotel Corporation’ and had it listed under the New York Stock Exchange the following year. Hilton, with his $9 million worth of stock, was the largest shareholder.
  • // 1949
    Next in 1949, Hilton obtained ‘Hotel Caribe Hilton’ in San Juan, Puerto Rico on a 20-year lease. This was the group’s first hotel outside the United States and with it was born ‘Hilton International Company’, which became the first international hotel chain.
  • // 1949 To 1972
    In October 1949 he fulfilled one of his long-cherished dreams and acquired the management rights of the prestigious ‘Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’ in New York City. The Hilton Hotels Corporation finally bought the hotel outright in 1972.
  • // 1954
    So far, Statler Hotels was his main competitor. In 1954, he purchased the company for a record price of $111,000,000. The move was possible because Hilton had earlier enlisted his company under New York Stock Exchange and so he was able to obtain additional capital from outside investors.
  • // 1957
    He is also known for his book, ‘Be My Guest’. Published in 1957, the book is still considered a sort of Bible to all hoteliers.
  • // 1966
    In 1966, he gave up the active management of the company, naming his son Barron the President. However, he remained Chairman of the Board until his death almost 13 years later.
  • // 1976
    In 1976, Hilton married Mary Frances Kelly. This marriage happened in a church. Their union lasted until his death in 1979.
  • // 3rd Jan 1979
    Hilton died from natural causes on January 3, 1979, at the age of 91. He was interred at Calvary Hill Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery in Dallas, Texas.

// Famous Hoteliers

Conrad Hilton's FAQ

  • What is Conrad Hilton birthday?

    Conrad Hilton was born at 1887-12-25

  • When was Conrad Hilton died?

    Conrad Hilton was died at 1979-01-03

  • Where was Conrad Hilton died?

    Conrad Hilton was died in Santa Monica, California, United States of America

  • Which age was Conrad Hilton died?

    Conrad Hilton was died at age 91

  • Where is Conrad Hilton's birth place?

    Conrad Hilton was born in San Antonio, New Mexico Territory, United States of America

  • What is Conrad Hilton nationalities?

    Conrad Hilton's nationalities is American

  • Who is Conrad Hilton spouses?

    Conrad Hilton's spouses is Zsa Zsa Gabor

  • Who is Conrad Hilton siblings?

    Conrad Hilton's siblings is August H. Hilton, Baron Hilton, Carl H. Hilton, Eva C. Hilton, Felice A. Hilton, Helen A. Hilton, Julian Hilton, Rosemary J. Hilton

  • Who is Conrad Hilton childrens?

    Conrad Hilton's childrens is Conrad Nicholson

  • What was Conrad Hilton universities?

    Conrad Hilton studied at New Mexico Military Institute, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

  • Which company or organization was founded by Conrad Hilton?

    Conrad Hilton was the founder/co-founder of Hilton Hotels

  • What is Conrad Hilton's religion?

    Conrad Hilton's religion is Roman Catholic

  • Who is Conrad Hilton's father?

    Conrad Hilton's father is Augustus Halvorsen

  • Who is Conrad Hilton's mother?

    Conrad Hilton's mother is Mary Genevieve

  • What is Conrad Hilton's sun sign?

    Conrad Hilton is Capricorn

  • How famous is Conrad Hilton?

    Conrad Hilton is famouse as American Hotelier and Businessman