The Brink Books a Room at the Hilton
I'm Mark Murphy. I'm chef restaurant tour and host of new podcast from iheartradio called food. Three sixty. Join me as we take a three hundred sixty degree look at history science culture and more all through the lens of food. The most important thing for me is not my writing ego. It's getting people to cook. Delicious food be sure to subscribe to food three sixty on the iheartradio app, apple podcast or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. Conrad Hilton founder of the Hilton hotel group, didn't necessarily want to be a hotel year when he grew up. But then despite his friends reservations, a CD little hotel planted, the seed of an idea that turned him into one of the frontiers men of the hotel industry, but it wasn't always comfy bed to Lyon. And when the great depression, hit it very nearly close the doors on Hilton. Let's check out how quick thinking outstanding work ethic and care for his fellow man helped Conrad Hilton check into massive success. This is Hilton on the brink. Guys. I'm Jonathan Strickland Mariel Casten. And today, we're talking about a subject suggested to us by one of our listeners. DJ filton. Yeah. Thanks DJ. And this is a big subject, obviously the Hilton hotels. That's an enormous company but we're specifically focusing on the founder Conrad Hilton, and sort of his journey into establishing the Hilton company, which that journey is filled with, I think one of the biggest break moments of Hilton's entire history. Yeah. Well, yeah. I mean, you're talking about launching a business shortly before the great depression, and the remote people times when the company could have just gone belly up. But didn't and we're going to cover all of that. There's also we want to mention going to be a part of the story that has really disturbing and we will give a trigger warning when that gets. Closer. It is a very dark Mark on the entire story. But we feel it's important to include for all objectively a lot. A lot of the history written on Conrad Hilton is very, very positive. But there, there are some negative things and it's important to look at it all. Yeah. And yeah, we'll talk more about it when we get there. But you might we'll, we'll let you know, do you mind west skip ahead. If you if you get very sensitive about difficult topics. Yes. And one less thing to mention it was recently Hilton's one hundred anniversary. We did a whole bunch of research on this episode, but a lot of the dates in ages, and little minute show of this history. And of, of this story varied from different sources, you might see that something supposedly happened in nineteen Forty-six six in one source, and another source says it was nineteen forty seven so just a stab the fact that the dates were going to be using are largely, you know, each dates because we just we. Can't be sure it's it's hard when you're looking at different sources, all of which appear to be, you know, reliable ones, but they're giving different information. Exactly. But we do know one date for certain, and that is the date when Conrad Hilton was born. Yes, it was Christmas day. Eighteen eighty seven. Yup. In the little town of Bethlehem. No, no. But a different town. It was a town of San Antonio, but not sending Tonio, Texas. No San Antonio New Mexico. He was born to Mary. Ann, Augusta's, Healton or gust to his friends S two friends. I'm not Augusta's friend remind never knew the man, but he was also one of eight children. Yep. So big family and gusts Hilton was quite the businessman himself. Right. He was he, he did a lot of things. He did trading financing. He ran a general store. He finance things like mines you mean like the hi ho. Hi, ho. It's off to work. We go type of mine. Yeah. Not like minesweeper and Peter lever. So, yeah, so then this work ethic was passed along to Conrad as well. Conrad Hilton even as a kid at a, a real get up and go kind of attitude, right? Did he did a lot of things before he became a hotel owner and manager? And he started really, really young, one of the things that he's known for across most of the research that I saw that he was a big dreamer, and he worked hard and he was raised Catholic. A devout Catholic has mother was a Catholic. And so that was an important part of his life throughout the entirety of his life. And there are still some glimmers of that in foundations and in his business today, so some references to Catholicism or at least some nods to, to Catholic philosophy. Yes. So we said he started working very. A young reports. I saw said, I think as early as five he might have been growing and selling vegetables. But he was also helping in his dad's general store. That was the biggest thing. And then his dad may be wanted him to be general, as he sent him off to military school at age eleven. I see what you did there. Well he did. Okay. Yeah. It wasn't wasn't. You know, wasn't the valedictorian or anything. No. But he was really good at math. And apparently he was encouraged to study engineering but he didn't find that take yearly compelling. But in one thousand nine hundred his father hit it really big. He sold one of his minds and made a lot of money, and they all moved out to California, the entire family and Conrad with his good work ethic went ahead and got himself a newspaper out. He had kept on working and the family lived out there for a few years. But then there was a big recession in one thousand nine hundred seven and the Hilton family was hit the ticket early hard Gus Hilton's entire. Small fortune that he had made the allowed them to move out to California was completely wiped out, and they had to relocate back to New Mexico. Yes. What they did there. She been like a premonition for Conrad Hilton's career path. But it wasn't. No. They took their home, and they turned it into a boarding house. And Conrad Hilton was put to work as well. He wasn't just living there. He was the bellhop. Yes. And their houses, perfectly suited to it, according to reports because as each child in their large family was born Gus would add another room to the house. So there were lots of room. There are lots of room. Yeah. So that's why they could turn into a boarding house. So then when he was really right at twenty one, I think, or is one of those dates twenty five I think most say, twenty one but somewhere around there Conrad Hilton what unquote takes over the general store from his father. But there's a reason we put quotes around that. Yeah, he was a micromanager. He couldn't let go. Yeah. He was. No, elsa. No. Also, let it go. Oh no Cal fan. Oh my goodness. Anyhow Conrad learned some more work ethic out of this. So even though it wasn't the intentional work ethic has dad tried to instill in him. It was additional work ethic. He he learned. He had to keep cooling calm and not make a big deal out of things says dad would Rigo would freak out and you know, it's something he could handle, he also really learned the value of delegation. Threw this. He's like, if I give somebody a task, I'm going to trust them to do it. I'm going to put people in the positions. I need that. I trust so that when I give them a task I trust them, right? Because this is ridiculous. I don't have to sit there and hold their hand or stand over their shoulder. This also served him, well, because he would serve a stint as a politician. You was in New Mexico's for state legislature in nineteen twelve. So that was another valuable experience for him. He also got a lot of experience doing public speaking, which would be another thing that he would rely heavily. On earlier on his career. There are some reports saying that he was the youngest son reports said he served two terms one term. It's still pretty impressive. New Mexico was pretty note that point. Then he became a banker which was sort of what he had been hoping to do or memorial, but he ended up taking hit the entirety of all of his savings, and then that was just under three thousand dollars or so. But that was just a little bit of what he needed he then borrowed or raised about thirty thousand dollars in capital. In order to found his Bank and everything went swimmingly and he became one of the biggest financiers all of American history. Right. And that's why he says successful. No, it turns out that after he did this the border directors. And the shareholders both did some pretty, like mean stuff or support of directors elected, somebody else president of his Bank. And then the shareholders tried to oust him as well which they think might have been the doings of the old Bank owner. But his dad who had initially invested in the Bank helped rectify this, and he became I think vice president. Yeah, I guess the Hilton was already Conrad that is was already prepared for this having gone through the experience of having his dad micromanage. Now. He has a board of directors that is telling him what he has to do when he thought he was going to be the one calling the shots. So then he ends up selling the general store. The family ends up selling the generals really and ink and the Bank is well. And then Conrad ends up volunteering because that was the outbreak of World War One, so he volunteers to serve during World War One. Yes. And I read that this is where he got his love for travel because he traveled around the state seeing some places he had never seen before. And then he ended up going over to France and travelled around France for the war, now, something unfortunate happens during this time in his right before he left army. Right before he was going to come back home. His dad died, I think in a car crash, and it kind of left him spinning his wheels. So he wasn't sure. What he was going to do. He was thinking maybe banking, his, his mom said, you need to find your own frontier. And so he moved to Texas and looked by Bank, you only had five thousand dollars to do it. Yeah. Which is not enough money to buy a Bank. And in the meantime, he was a he was his own little side hustle, going on because I don't think he could ever not work there. He was trading in mohair that was his side hustle. I don't know if it was mohair yarn or fabric or all of the above or. Yeah. Yeah. But he was looking at areas of Texas, where the oil business was taking off because this was right in that era, where there's the oil rush in Texas. And so he found a Bank in an area where there were doing some booming business in oil, and he wanted to buy it, but he was having some trouble. And so he was staying in a charming place. So the, the charming hotel in town called the Mobely hotel in Cisco Texas. And he made a big decision about that hotel, not just to rent a room, but to buy it. Yeah. And the reason he chose to buy this dingy. Little nasty hotel. The reports I read it sounded like. Sound like a rough and tumble kind of place yet. Well, they were turning their rooms over every hour. So three times a day, they would check people out and check new people, and that's not enough time to late clean change linens. I don't know how big changing linens was because this was a nine hundred nineteen, but because this was a big oil boom, you know, you had all these people who were working in the oil fields, and so they would rent a room for eight hours, so they could get some rest and then go right back to work. And so that's really what was going on here in this rapid turn around the. Yeah, it was this was this was a hotel that was making some serious cash. However, just because it was profitable didn't mean that the owner wanted to hold onto it because the owner had aspirations of becoming an oilman and self to make a fortune in oil. Yeah. So Conrad looked over the books to make sure it was a good decision and he bought it for forty thousand dollars. He got half of the money from his friends and half from the Bank. I will say that his friends who invested in this. We're not certain. They were not super off done Dever. They thought that buying this hotel was not great decision, but he immediately gets to work. You starts to overhaul the hotel. He decides that he wants to maximize efficiency make the best use out of the space that was available. He really started to try and turn it into an even more successful business. Yes. So Hilton has this really big thing all the way through his entire career and all through all of his hotels, about not wasting space. And so he when he took over the mobile, he got rid of the dining hall. He cut his his reception desk in half even turned a potted plant into a tiny novelty store. All he he throughout the plant. I don't like mood rings on the plant leaves, but the one thousand nine hundred equivalent, but every space that wasn't something. That people could sleep in or use or place that could make money was aware of space, he called this finding these little areas to optimize space digging for gold. Any also wanted to make sure he provided incentives for his workers to do an exemplary job, and he was not keen to keep around people who didn't share his philosophy if there were people that were involved in the business that didn't think like he, did he would rather buy them out than continue to try and work with them. Because again, he wanted to work with people, he trusted to do the job the way he wanted to do it, if he had a he had a partner who didn't really like people. So I would say not super suited for the hospitality industry. India like a Fawlty towers kind of thing. Yeah. So he bought him out, well above price, so that he could put somebody in who he knew had the heart for the business. Yeah. He wasn't. He wasn't about cutting people out of the business more. So he. He was he was trying to make sure he was always doing right by everyone. But keeping the business Burston foremost in his focus. It's a really important balance. An initial be noted that taking the time to build up, your employees is at a hotel in taking the time to incentivize them in that day and age was not was not comment. No. This was definitely an unusual practice. And he also wanted to focus very much on customer needs. So he wanted to make sure let's pay attention to what our clientele wants and provide that to them in our products, and our services, and this was very successful shortly after he leased and renovated to other hotels. And he took his army coworker says buddies, the people, he knew from his time in the service, and he put them in charge of each of those. Because he, he again, he trusted them. He was entrusted them with his life. So he certainly trusted them with this tells. Yeah, he was doing so well that when the next recession hit in nineteen twenty one it didn't bother him. He was still making a profit. Yeah. They were they were still able to keep the hotels running white. Well, he also had a very strong belief that as he was adding hotels, because this would happen throughout the history of, of his work as well. That hotels shouldn't be cookie cutter they should not all be carbon copies of a single hotel plan that every hotel should have its own Beal and our own identity, and that would carry through even as Hilton would grow into a massive company. Well, it makes sense, right? Because at this time he's not building his own hotels. He's buying others and flipping. Yeah. So it makes sense that you that's so much extra work to try. To make them all match. Yeah, yeah, it was it was better to go ahead. And make sure that each hotel kind of had its own personality that the fitted in with the, the region, and the needs of the people who were visiting. Yeah, I'm sure I'm sure it had to do with consumer experience as well. But it also just makes practical. Yeah. He also partnered with a guy named D E Soederman and everything went smoothly, and they can say it was the first major hiccup because I think that would be his dad dying kind of the next big stumbling block for him. So he hired this guy. This guy was a keen businessman, but he was also an alcoholic. Yeah. And he couldn't take responsibility for the results of his alcoholism. He started blaming people for stealing money. He started blaming people for his wife's unhappiness to the fact that one of the people he was blaming for these occurrences was Conrad's friend, and he killed him. Soederman killed, Conrad's friend. Yeah. And then and have put to jail with into jail. So you, you might ask yourself. Well, what does Conrad Hilton do? Here's, here's a business partner, who had not only been dealing with alcoholism, but also had murdered somebody, essentially our God to an altercation which ended with the other person's death. Those to jail for it. Conrad Hilton does something truly remarkable something that I don't think very many people would have done it. No. Especially considering the fact that Soederman threatened to come back for Conrad. Again, to Conrad provided solder, men with enough money to move away and start his life somewhere else. Once he was really imprisoned. Yeah. Basically saying. Here you go away. But it's all good. Yeah. My no harm. No foul. No not. Quite quite that. But yeah, it was it was again, considering all the different outcomes that could have followed. It was pretty remarkable. Now we haven't reached the true brink yet, but we're going to get there. And before we dive into some of the dark, tales, we thought we'd take a quick break. This week on ephemeral. I actually found a Tate box that said head cheese in all capital, letters on it, and there's no way. I'm not picking that up. Also, it's on a tape box of a company that I know did not make page after the nineteen fifties. So this is this is an ancient tape and since head cheese on it, and I'm intrigued, what is this going to be? Three. Listen to a federal now on apple podcasts, the iheartradio app, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and learn more at a federal dot show. All right. So we're now in the nineteen twenties, what happens now. Well, he decides that and said flipping hotels, he wants to start building them. All right. So now he's no longer. Nez bull, not only looking at renovating older hotels. He's looking at creating his own structures. Exactly. He would throughout his career continued to acquire pre existing hotels and turning them into his own. But now, he, he wanted hotels that were truly and genuinely his. So he goes to Dallas Texas for this first one, and it is an enormous endeavor to build the hotel. They estimate would cost a million dollars a lot of money today, but a whole lot of money in nineteen twenty. So he had to take his math brain and do a lot of nothing to make all of this work as he math harder than he had ever math before. Because if you look back here he was making money. Yeah. I don't think he was making a million dollars with money. No. So the first thing he did was instead of buying the land to build his hotel. He leased it from the owner of the land, but he leased it for ninety years. Yeah. So then after leasing it, he then secures, two hundred thousand dollars from from various backers investors to help with this and he still needed to raise a whole lot more. So he goes to the Bank, and he gets a loan of five hundred thousand dollars and he does that by leveraging the land, and the future hotel. He's essentially putting up for collateral building the hasn't been built yet. And even then, the Bank would just out now, give him five hundred thousand dollars. Yeah, they paid him as each floor got finished you on the hotel, and they had a contingency, if he ran out of money to build this hotel, while the he was in the middle of the loan. They would they would end the loan. Right. So as soon as he ran out of money, he was out of money is going to be a game over in the Bank would get the everything it seems like they were kind of sort of matching him. He also would end up selling his first hotel Mobely in the Mobely goes by, and that would allow them to have another one hundred thousand dollars for this and. Then he really tries to push for this. And, you know, I made the joke a couple of times already about, and then everything went well, right? And then we find out it didn't. Let's I'm just gonna skip the joke. Things did not go as planned now. So it took longer to build this hotel than he expected and typical for any construction job if anyone's ever, the construction, you know, that it's going to take longer than what the quotas and also horror of horrors, four floors before the hotel was finished. He ran out of money again. Yeah. So now you're facing the possibility of the Bank, taking everything, so he starts to borrow more money from whom ever will lend it to him, including his own employees who were handing over small amounts, but they represented life savings or some of these people and it wouldn't be the last time that this would happen either, and we'll get there but. As we said Hilton was really big about building up his employees's. So when times got hard, his employees stuck with him, especially since a lot of them were friends. Yeah. It was so dire though, that he got the guy he was leasing the land from to buy the hotel and finish it. So now the guy that he was leaving his land from owns a hotel and paying to finish it. And then so then Hilton leases, though, tell from the landowner. Yes. So he had set out to build his own hotel, and he ends up leasing hotel anyway. But at least he built it, it was his. Yeah. Kinda around this time he got married had two kids eventually have three kids with his this wife. He had priest sons this was his first wife, which is a bit of. Spoiler. Yes. And you know, things seemed to pay off, he built six more hotels in two years. And then the following year in nineteen twenty nine he now said he was going to build his biggest hotel. L today, and it was going to be amazing, and then the world went into the great depression, which literally wasn't that great now. It was he lousy is a lousy depression, but it was enormous. However, and so the stock market crashes and hits a whole bunch of industries, really hard, the motorcycle industry, but the hospitality business really gets hit hard. It's hard to it's hard to go on vacation. Or go traveling when you are struggling to meet ends day today when you're when you're eating. Bread and, and Pabst cheese have cheese. I remember the name of the loaf. Food substance low for something that eighty percent of hotels, we're going bankrupt or being foreclosed or restructured, which is about the same. And at the time he's still has payments, he estimate right there, fixed payments. He's, he's got to make them he's, he's obligated. And so this is again, where he started to take up collections including among his employees, like they're, this is one of those where you get the real big stories. We're like the Bill boys or handing over five hundred dollars, which represented their entire gas, attendant gave him quarters to help them fill up his tank of gas when his car was almost out of gas because all his money was going into the hotel as well. They were also doing cost cutting measures in the hotels, which must have been heartbreaking for Conrad who who really wanted to optimize these hotels for his consumers. They had to do things like clothes floors. And they were even ganging telephones out of rooms to. Save just a few cents for the day and stuff. Yeah. But he's still would end up having to look for more investment to help cover the costs because even while he was cutting back that still wasn't enough to stave off the potential for bankruptcy. So he goes, he gets some more loans, which put him in at a more than like half a million dollars in debt at this point. And so it's really looking pretty grim. You could really say that this is truly the brink moment where he's, he's sitting there looking at five hundred thousand dollars in debt. It is, so he got his loan from the American life insurance company, ran by wwl. Moody and son. An oil, these guys these guys, they had a reputation for not being the most pleasant people to be in business with at least wwl Moody's son did. Yeah. Yeah. He didn't really care either wwl. Moody's son was a bit of a difficult person if I'm going to be super gentle with the description and and senior good old, daddy was totally in his son's camp. It wasn't necessarily the agreed with his son did. But family's family. And so you have this partnership, and the partnership was the agreement was that they would each have a third of the business. And that's because wwl, moody and son, not only had this life insurance company. They also owned a chain of hotels at work struggling in the depression. Yes. So this is all getting merged together. You've got the Hilton hotel are hotels, and you've got Moody's chain of hotels, all being merged together. And as. Part of the agreement. Conrad had it had it written up where if they were two separate, or whatever reason he would walk away with one third of the business. And so they create this merged company, the national hotel company, and Conrad goes back, and he uses his money to try and essentially make good on all the people who had lent him money to keep the business afloat while it was really in dire straits. I think I think this is fantastic that the first thing he wanted to do was make right by the people who helped him. He paid the course back to the gas attendant. He gave money back to hop answer, the bell hop up for life. Yeah, he would become an executive actually in Hilton hotels. But. The turnout that things did not go so well with with, moody and son, as we, we've already mentioned they were essentially not paying Elton his fair share. They stopped paying the leases on the hotels that they owned like they were falling back on all of their obligations and laying all the burden on Conrad Hilton, and one of the things that I thought was really crabby. Conrad still trying to make these hotels successful that takes change. But it also takes money and, and moody and son, did not want to spend that money they didn't want to invest in the hotels. They wanted some help for the business to succeed without them having to put money in, if Conrad decided something was absolutely needed, and the managers of his hotel pushed not changed through the other two would take it out of that managers paycheck. Yeah, it's so so Conrad says enough is enough. I went out and then instead of them honoring the agreement. The Moody's Suam. Yeah. And he tried to sue back. But since he went to the movies for help, he didn't have as much money to really fight back. He knew it would not be a long fight. Yeah. It turned out that they kind of shot themselves in their foot though, because they defaulted on the lease for the El Paso Hilton. And so, the owner of the Paso Hilton turned around to Conrad Hilton and said, you can have this hotel. I don't want to if you can pay or the amount that is Odin me if you can pay what the Moody's own me, which was thirty thousand dollars. You can have this whole hotel, but unfortunately Conrad is still strapped for cash, and he's kind of maxed out all of his lenders at this time. So he does something really cool. It seems like he pulled a hat trick. Yeah. He got seven small loans from companies. That he could give the hotels business too. So he went to his company said you give me. This small amount of money, and I'll give you my hotels business for life. So a laundry mat and a beer company and things like that. Yes, this is almost like a community kind of, of approach to trying to raise money and it worked, and he was able to get is one hotel, and thankfully, after that he eventually got the third of hotels. He was promised. Yes. But there was one other rough art of his life at this point is first wife left him. And according to one biography on the Hilton family, which, by the way, when you say the word Hilton, you, I'm sure everyone out there is thinking about all the different Hilton's have Peres. Yeah. Nicky Hilton, and that sort of stuff, the Hilton families no stranger to controversy and gossip etcetera. But according to one of the biographies on the Hilton family gets a little a sivy. Oh, I don't know how trustworthy it is his wife left him for a football coach with whom she had already been having an affair and that this very deeply hurt. Conrad hilton. And so, at this point, you know, he's got the one hotel, and he's starting to see some financial success, but it's personal life. You might argue is on the brink. Yeah. Well, we have more to say about Conrad Hilton in just a moment. But first, let's take another quick break. Let's just ground the conversation for a second. There's two point two billion people who use Facebook. That's about the size of Christianity. There's one point nine billion people who use YouTube. It's about the size of Islam. Welcome to sleep. Walkers, a podcast about how technology is changing our lives in ways. We don't even notice. How did John? I don't know how we dig into the new technology that is altering, how we understand the world and ask, what effect is it having on us based on what people are searching full. We could direct them to videos on YouTube at counted ISIS propaganda. I'm CARA price on sleep. Walkers, we dive deep into the revolution. And find out what it means for our future, with the people who are building it every week will bring you mind blowing accounts of AI in daily life from algorithms in American courtrooms to a UFO that came out of the sky in northern Mexico like and subscribe to sleep Bucker on apple podcasts, the iheartradio app or wherever you listen to podcasts. Alright. So Conrad Hilton has started to rebound. He's got the hotels that he was promised from his previous agreement. What happens next? Well, then he starts capitalizing on the fact that the hotel industry, got hit so hard and he starts buying up a bunch of the other hotels that struggled in the great depression like when he talked about eighty percent had gone out of business or were in bankruptcy. So this is nineteen thirty seven the great depressions, not quite over yet. It would end in nineteen thirty nine and he had his eye on this one particular hotel, the Stevens in Chicago. He he really wanted that hotel. It was the biggest hotel in the world heaving out a personal tour of it, and it wasn't for sale at the time. Yeah, but he, he was like one day, one day that will be mine. And so he made plans for that one day when it would be for sale. He started buying bonds because the bonds for this place I really cheap because shine and he had friends do. The same so that if it ever went on sale, he would be the majority bondholder and have a much easier time buying it. Yeah. Interesting. You know, I actually stayed across the street from another hotel that he flipped during this time the Francis Drake, which is in San Francisco. I literally stayed across the street from that hotel. And so when we were doing a research for this, I thas like Why's that name sell familiar. Oh, right. That's what I saw every time I stepped outside of my hotel. That was actually just like a month ago when we were recording this nice but then he starts to now. He's seeing some success. He's starting to get some traction here, the great depression is ending. He starts to expand beyond the United States. He starts opening up hotels or leasing L hotels in other countries. Yes, in the nineteen forties. In fact, Hilton started the first international hotel chain. So then nineteen forty two something else happens to his beloved Stevens. He had. Military uses it for housing because World War Two yeah. The made four hundred thousand dollars out of the deal and later in the forties. He got the Stephen corporation, even though the military still had the actual building. Now, nineteen forty two here's where we're going to give our trigger warning for something really unpleasant. I would I would recommend skipping ahead by a couple of minutes. If you are sensitive to really disturbing details because this is one of those stories, it's not it's not fully supported, and it's contested by a lot of people. But I feel like we need to mention it. So nineteen forty to Konrad, Mary's a second wife and his second wife is Josh Gabor. Right. The famous well, not really. You can't really call her an actress or a singer. She did some of both. But she was really famous for being part of the sisters and soja Gabor gets married. It would be her second hug. Even and his second wife and for most of the reports I read their marriage was not a happy one because Conrad didn't like the way that Joshua really wanted to indulge in the luxuries of life and Joshua felt that Conrad was trying to control her. There was some reports that said Conrad called her Georgia, because he had problems saying Joschka, and then Joshua said, no, he was forcing me to change my name to Georgia, Al, and these conflicting stories really culminate with the birth of their daughter Francesca Hilton. Because in an autobiography Shasha Gabor would allege that Francesca Hilton was the product of marital, rape. Which is obviously if true truly horrifying. Right. There's it, it, it's so in contrast with everything else, we know about Conrad Hilton, that's. It's hard to believe, but at the same time, you don't want to dismiss someone right now, Joshua road that autobiography decades after Conrad Hilton had passed away, and there were others at the time who are even questioning wrench, husker's parentage, who had suggested that maybe that, that George Sanders, who would turn out end up later being, Josh Gabor, third husband might have been the father, and there was even one incredibly salacious report. I read that suggested Conrad junior. Conrad Hilton's son was the father. Yeah. So very disturbing and Francesca, Hilton's story is a truly tragic one as well. She grew up in luxury, but that did not last her whole life. She was not a, you know, a Hilton that was living the high life and she died at the age of sixty seven she was essentially penniless living out of her car. She had she had done some acting. And she had worked some for the Hilton hotel. Group Hilton foundation, but she wasn't left much. She was she predeceased Zsa Gabor by about two years. But at that time, Schaja Gabor had dementia and was probably unaware that her daughter had passed away. So very tragic, story, it, it makes you think how many because when you're talking about a person associated with the company as opposed to just company it feels like there's a lot more opinion, but into there. And so it makes you wonder how many of these kids up to this point, it's been a fairly flawless record for Conrad. Hilton how much is opinion or how much is. Public appearance. Right. Or, you know, it's, it's really difficult to say, so we don't want to dismiss the charge. Right. That's certainly not what we want to do. It is hard to reconcile when we look at the rest of the story, but it could very well be that the rest of Conrad Hilton's story has been whitewashed a bit. And maybe to to really elevate him beyond. I mean he he was a human being like everybody. Yeah. So perhaps he was a human being capable of doing that. It is impossible for us to say. But it certainly is something that we wanted to, to mention because it wouldn't be fair to give some sort of glowing review of this man. And then yeah. Skip over this detail. Exactly. Now, he also did some very good stuff in nineteen forty four he started philanthropic trust. Yep. It Conrad Hilton foundation and it became a legal nonprofit in nineteen fifty separate from Hilton. Yeon hotel group, and the foundation still exists and at a wards prizes organizations who strive to end world suffering, so small grants to bunch of companies who are really trying to make the world, a better place. It also supports efforts to help the blind the homeless and improve education. Conrad Hilton was big on children's education and children's safety is his second son, Barron. Hilton joined the foundation in nineteen fifty. He would be the chairman of the board from twenty ten to two thousand twelve his first son. Conrad junior would go on to marry Elizabeth Taylor. And then he has to weigh in nineteen sixty nine so as I son has to weigh, much earlier than an as others so well dako- back to the hotel business. Yes, that's what we're here for. We're here for in nineteen forty six Healton, consolidate all of his properties into the Hilton hotels corporation, and this is really. Smart on his part, again, he was using his math brain because it reduced Hilton's aggregate debt by twenty seven percent. And it raised the original investors holdings in the company, two hundred seventy five percent because he listed the hotel on the new York Stock Exchange. It was the first hotel to be publicly traded in nineteen forty eight he created Hilton International is a subsidiary company to the main company, and he tried to make sure that whenever he was building in another country that he was sourcing things locally, right? He wasn't bringing stuff from outside. He wanted to support the local economy so building supplies furnishings, even people who train to staff. He had a motto world peace, international trade and travel. He acquired the management rights to New York's Waldorf Astoria in nineteen forty nine that was another one that he had looked at and thought Sunday ill they mine. I he's the same bond trick that he had used on the Stevens. Now, his investors didn't think this was a smart by, and I think eventually Hilton hotels, sold the wall. Or they also did a major renovation as well. Yeah, it was it was considered to be past its prime the great depression. It hit the Waldorf Astoria pretty hard. Yes. And after that he finally got his Stevens house, and the popular Palmer house. And I say popular because it actually was making some money, and this was not as smooth transaction. No, he he went to buy the Stevens house. The Stephen seller kept up the price, which is not maybe the best business decision on Conrad's part to keep agreeing to these upper prices, and you go to buy it, and the seller would disappear and things like that. And so he said, okay, I'm gonna by the Palmer house. Instead, they're being a lot more upfront about things, and then the Stevens seller came back, and there is some conflict of interest and issues, but he eventually got both. He then buys a home in Bel Air for two hundred and twenty five thousand dollars that land appreciated in value. Value. Yes exponentially. It's worth over two hundred million dollars right now. He acquired the statler hotels in nineteen fifty. Or also, if you're a Muppets fan, you're probably hearing things like statler and Waldorf. Yes. That's where their names come from. Interesting fact, acquiring the statler hotels was the largest retail transaction in the world. At that time, it was a one hundred and eleven million dollar purchase and keeps on growing. Conrad ends up taking public speaking engagements, which was something that he had enjoyed doing back when he was working in the New Mexico government. And he also starts to kind of create standards for hotel rooms that you see all around the world today, things like making sure that every single room has an air conditioning system of up to it. Yeah. And creating a central hotel reservation system where you can book a room from multiple hotels in one place. Yeah. He then hands over the company in nineteen sixty two his son, Barron. The second of his sons and Conrad would stay on as chairman of the board. I'm really hoping he didn't pull agus. He didn't pull a Gus. Yeah. So in sixty four Hilton International becomes its own company, they spin off Hilton International. It's no longer subsidiary. It's its own separate entity and then it gets real complicated. It's traded around by airlines and foreign governments being reunited had it for a while for about forty years at did this. Yeah. So further complicating matters is that there was this conflict going on between the US branch of Hilton. And then Hilton International, I shouldn't say, US branch, the US Hilton company, and then Hilton International which were two separate companies, Dan complication was that. The Hilton International company could own hotels in the United States, but they were not allowed to call them Hilton hotels, because the US Elton company had the exclusive right within the United States to use that name. Likewise, the US company of Hilton was not allowed to call any hotels owned internationally Hilton hotels. So the Hilton International hotels in America, were vista hotels and the Hilton US hotels overseas were called. Conrad hotels. Bun, the Vinci? They were able to get their act together and workout in agreement, do smooth that out. But yeah, that just makes it even more complicated. Now in nineteen seventy nine Conrad Hilton passed away, the ripe old age of ninety one and he left almost all of his estate to his foundation. He give some reports say about one hundred thousand two hundred chaska. Yeah. So he had planned on doing this on leaving the vast majority of his estate to the foundation, and he had said that he didn't really want to have his children just inherited a huge amount of money of that. They should also earn their their money just as he had done. I personally think that particular thing of, of wanting your kids to earn money is pretty cool. Yeah. Beran however, kind of did it some maneuvers that ended up making him an extremely rich man. A billionaire. So Barron was able to kind of rest, a larger piece than perhaps what was intended for him based on Conrad's wishes, the and it made him a extremely rich man. However, Barron, intern in two thousand seven said he was going to, to dedicate ninety seven percent of his own estate to go to the foundation and kind of follow in his father's footsteps in that sense. I want to mention here because this is something that just speaks to my humanitarian heart that the goal of the foundation was to foster peace through the Power International travel, and he left guidance for the foundation to alleviate human suffering around the world without regard to race religion or country and throughout his speaking engagements and his personal endeavors through life. There are accounts of him really standing up to that belief that it didn't matter, what you're even though he was devoutly Catholic. It didn't matter your religion. It didn't Ramona your release. Country. Everybody deserve to be able to live in peace. Yes. Yeah. So the foundation has given out more than one and a half billion dollars in grants. So it has certainly been active in that role to that, that is something that's truly admirable. Now Hilton's had a lot of other break moments where we're getting to the end and we're going to skip some of those future. Bring mum well past us, but future from the time, we're ending this story because we want to keep that in case we won't ever want to revisit Hilton, and kind of talk about these other moments like when Hilton got acquired by the Blackstone group in two thousand seven but we'll talk about that in another episode we probably won't talk about the exploits of the extended Hilton family, and how they landed in tabloids time, and time again, that seems like that is bit for a different type of podcast. Yes. Yes, but we thought this was particularly an. An interesting topic we wanna thank DJ again for suggesting at and there's so many different things that we could have mentioned. In fact, I've looked scrolling right now through our different of facts, and there are ton of them, but I feel like we've been going on for a good while. So I think we can conclude this and just say that they'll Conrad Hilton was truly a two nations businessman, you know, someone who did not give up at all. I was going to give up easily, but he never really gave up, which is pretty phenomenal. Considering the odds that he was facing time and time again and his career according to most reports he did it, honestly. And he did it upstanding. Yeah. So that's at work. Yes, I think I think we can make it one. So thank you again, DJ, if you guys have any suggestions for things that we should cover in future episodes of the brink you can reach out to us. How do they do that Ariel? Well, they can Email us at feedback at the brink podcast dot show. Also, they can go to our website at the brink podcast dot show. Learn more about us. Yeah. As we're fascinating. Yes. Until next time I have been Jonathan Strickland. And I have been aerial Casten. Hi, I'm Katie golden. I studied psychology in evolutionary biology, and I host a comedy educational podcast called creature feature the podcast explores. The most incredible animal and human behaviors on the planet every Wednesday. I'm joined by guests comedians and scientists to get inside the minds of the freaky, and fantastic creatures that surround us that you never knew existed listened to the creature feature podcasts and subscribe on iheartradio app or wherever you listen to podcasts.