William Barron Hilton was born Oct. 23, 1927, in Dallas, the son of Conrad Hilton and the former Mary Barron, according to “The Hiltons,” a 2014 book by J. Randy Taraborrelli. He was 8 when his parents divorced, and away at school when his father married Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1942.

Paris, Nicky
He had two brothers, Eric, who became an executive at Hilton Hotels, and Conrad Nicholson (“Nicky”) Jr., a socialite and manager of Hilton’s international division. Barron was best man at Nicky’s 1950 marriage to movie star Elizabeth Taylor; the couple divorced within a year. Other well-known family members include Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton, his granddaughters and high-living heiresses. Eric died in 2016.

Barron Hilton said he had “a misspent youth” and was “kicked out of four or five schools,” according to a 1981 story in People. He said he wasn’t close to his father, who was building a hotel empire that began with a site in Cisco, Texas, in 1919.

Hilton skipped college and served in the U.S. Navy as a photographer’s mate. In 1954, he became vice president at Hilton Hotels.

When Conrad Hilton died in 1979, he gave much of his fortune to his private foundation, which benefited Catholic nuns and other charities. Barron Hilton challenged his father’s will and after several years of legal wrangling reached a settlement giving him effective control over 34% of Hilton’s shares.

In 2007, Barron Hilton announced that he would follow his father’s example and leave 97% of his estate to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The planned gift is projected to increase the endowment to $6.3 billion, according to the foundation.

One of his passions was flying airplanes. “Hotels may have been my vocation, but aviation has definitely been my avocation,” Hilton said, according to a 2010 Forbes story. He owned a fleet of airplanes, helicopters, gliders and ultralight aircraft. Hilton sponsored attempts to circumnavigate the globe in a manned balloon, which he called “the ultimate room with a view -- a view of the world.”

He was married in 1947 to the former Marilyn June Hawley, who died in 2004. They had eight children: William Barron Jr., Hawley, Steven, David, Sharon, Richard, Daniel and Ronald.

--With assistance from Patrick Clark.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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