The Hilton success story begun with Conrad Hilton, one of the seven children of a Norwegian émigré who opened a department store in Socorro County, New Mexico. When his father lost all his savings in 1907, Conrad persuaded him to start a hotel business. In 1919 Conrad bought his first hotel in Texas, the first in a string of succesful ventures. In 1929 however the stock market crash brought him near bankruptcy. A bellboy from one of his hotels lent him $500 that helped him stand on his feet. It wasn't long beforeHilton's business became an empire that encompassed 188 hotels in the U.S. and 54 abroad. Conrad Hilton was a staunch Catholic and when Mary, his wife and mother of their three children, Nicky, Barron and Eric, left him for another man in 1934, Conrad suffered badly.
It was then that Conrad met a dazzilingly beautiful woman, an emigre from Hungary at Ciro's in Hollywood whom he fell head over heels for. Thye started dating. Conrad wanted to test her to see if she was a gold digger so he presented her with two jewel boxes . One contained a huge diamond ring the other a ring with a much less expensive gem. Conrad asked his date to choose the one she preffered. It must have been excruciating for the woman who was to become Zsa Zsa Gabor, but clever as she was she did go for the lesser jewel. Thus in 1942, 55 year old Conrad Hilton married Zsa Zsa who was thirty years younger and became the second husband of the star who would eventually get married nine times.
On the left, a full page ad for Beverly Hills Hilton in the 40ies and nextι, Conrad Hilyton on the cover of Time magazine.
Marriage to Gabor was not happy. Conrad had a rather modest life style the millions he had aquired through his ventures notwithstanding, something that Zsa Zsa could not possibly suffer. They separated in 1946.
They had a daughter, Francesca. Gabor claimed she became pregnant after Hilton raped her during their acrimonious divorce. Despite the divorce and alleged rape Zsa Zsa never cut off her ties to Conrad and used their daughter in future years t continue to have access to the Hilton fortune. Francesca died a few days ago, but Zsa Zsa is still alive at 97 after years of poor health.
Conrad's eldest son, Nicky shared his father's obsession with Hollywood and its stars. In 1950 he became Elizabeth Taylor's first husband.
After the fairytale wedding the couple left for a honeymoon cruise. But this ended in disaster when Taylor realised that the handsome heir was an alcoholic who turned violent when drunk. The marriage quickly ended in an equally talked about divorce.
Nicky Hilton continued to be enamored by Hollywood. He had affairs with actresses like Joan Collins and Natalie Wood. He died of a heart attack at 42.
O Conrad remarried in 1975 and lived happily the rest of his days with wife no 3, Mary Frances Kelly. When he dies inb 1979 he left the bulk of his fortune to the foundation he had created. His son Barron contested the will and after a legal fight that lasted ten years he was awarded with shares worth $654 million dollars.
Barron' s son, Rick married the actress Kathy Avanzino with whom he had two sons and two daughters, Barron, Condrad, Nicky and of course the notorious Paris Hilton. Barron's granddaughter became one of the most famous faces of the new century. Famous for being famous, she started off as a reality star playing with the blonde bimbo stereotype, sold her own sex tape, and became a successful enterpreuneur on her own. She dabbled in acting, singing and design but the publicity game turned against her when she was caught driving under the influence and eneded up in jail.
She had an affair with Paris Latsis and also Stavros Niarchos jr.
These last years Paris has calmed down a bit, her leaked photos smoking pot from a bong notwithstanding. She is very close to her grandfather, despite him leaving the bulk of his fortune to the Conrad Hilton foundation. Her shops around the world- 44 and counting- have ammased a 1,5 billion dollar fortune for her. The silly blond girl from "Simple life" did have the last laugh after all...