This intimate, shocking-and thoroughly unauthorized-portrait of the Hiltons chronicles the family's amazing odyssey from poverty and obscurity to glory and glamour.
From Conrad Hilton, the eccentric "innkeeper to the world" who built a global empire beginning with a fleabag in a dusty Texas backwater, to Paris Hilton, his great-granddaughter, whose fame took off with a sex video, House of Hilton is the unauthorized, eye-popping portrait of one of America's most outrageous dynasties.
If you want to know how Paris Hilton became who she is, you have to know where she came from. From scores of candid and exclusive interviews, from private documents and public records, New York Times bestselling author Jerry Oppenheimer has dug deeply into her paternal and maternal family roots to reveal the often shocking, tragic, and comic lives that helped shape the world's most famous and fabulous "celebutante."
The cast of characters includes Paris's maternal grandmother, a materialistic "stage mother from hell." There is Paris's maternal grandfather, who became an alcoholic housepainter. The life of Paris's mother, Kathy Hilton, groomed by her mother to be a star and marry rich, is candidly revealed, too, as is that of Paris's father, Rick, Conrad's grandson.
Master of the quick celebrity bio (Idol: Rock Hudson, etc.), Oppenheimer does a cursory, glib job of dishing the dirt on the famous hotelier dynasty established by Conrad Hilton by the 1920s. Oppenheimer begins and ends his increasingly sordid saga with the plight of the youngest in the Hilton line, arriviste Paris, who made herself an instant household name in 2002 with an erotic home video pirated on the Internet. Oppenheimer works backward from Paris's maternal line, which stars a succession of pushy stage moms and gold diggers like her mother, Kathleen, a successful child model; he then moves on to her paternal line, featuring great-grandfather Conrad Hilton, a big-talking Catholic German from San Antonio, Tex., who made a name and a fortune buying hotels, eventually marrying the apocryphal Miss Hungary, Zsa Zsa Gabor. However, with his first wife, Mary, he produced the three sons (Nick, Barron, and Eric) who would fuel the subsequent family slide, especially glamorous firstborn Nicky, the deeply alcoholic Hollywood skirt chaser who had the honor of being Elizabeth Taylor's first husband (for seven months). The reader will gasp to learn of the Hilton men's sexual athletics-and shudder to hear that such a privileged family could be so shockingly uneducated and uncouth. (Nov. 17)
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 07, 2006
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Excerpt from House of Hilton by Jerry Oppenheimer
Like many children of the rich and famous, Paris Hilton didn't always get to spend quality time with her parents, especially her mother. A socially ambitious young woman, Kathleen Elizabeth Avanzino Richards Hilton, who had married into the celebrated Hilton Hotel family, was often out and about. With little time on her hands for mothering, she was cavalier about leaving her firstborn with the hired help or with relatives.
This was made abundantly clear to Patricia Skipworth Hilton, the first wife of Conrad Hilton's third son, Eric. A Texas beauty who had married into the Hilton family in her late teens, Pat, a mother of four, had become quite close over the years to her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Marilyn and Barron Hilton, parents of Kathy's husband, Rick. The second of Conrad's three sons, Barron had succeeded the Hilton patriarch as head of the international hotel empire. Pat adored Marilyn, a former cheerleader who herself was a gorgeous teenage bride when she became part of the Hilton family. (The Hilton men, from Conrad on down, were known for taking young'uns for their brides.)
Whenever Pat visited Los Angeles from her home in Houston, Marilyn insisted that she stay at their spectacular estate. It was during one of those occasions, when Pat was "in the throes" of one of her many divorce actions in what was a hellish marriage to Eric Hilton--hellish marriages not being an oddity in the Hilton dynasty--that she observed new mother Kathy Hilton in action.
"I was there talking with Marilyn when here comes Kathy with Paris, who was nine months old and a great big, fat, pretty baby," Pat Hilton says in her Lone Star State drawl. "Kathy said, 'Meet Star'--she called Paris 'Star' from day one--'Would you like to hold her for a minute?' That was the last I saw Kathy that day. She took off until that evening. I wanted to kill her! She didn't leave any instructions on what time Paris had to be fed. There weren't any diapers. She just left me in the lurch."
Furious, Pat vented to Marilyn, who listened sympathetically and knowingly, and rolled her eyes. "Marilyn said, laughing, 'Well, I guess you're it for the day. Kathy does this all the time. She just wants to go out. And she knew you'd take care of the kid.'"