Walter Annenberg (1908-2002)

Walter Hubert Annenberg was a publisher, editor, diplomat, and philanthropist. After assuming control his father's company, Triangle Publications, he went on to create a veritable media empire that included Seventeen magazine and TV Guide.

Updated: January 07, 2015


Walter Hubert Annenberg (born March 13, 1908 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; died October 1, 2002 in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania) was a publisher, editor, diplomat, and philanthropist. He was born to Sadie Cecelia (née Friedman, June 3, 1879 - July 6, 1965) and Moses L. Annenberg (February 11, 1878 - July 20, 1942).[1] At the age of thirty-four, Walter assumed full control of Triangle Publications upon his father’s death. At that time, no one guessed that the rich son of a convicted felon would go on to create a veritable media empire that included Seventeen magazine and TV Guide. Much of Walter’s interest in business stemmed from his desire to bring repute to his father’s name despite Moses Annenberg’s ties to gambling and organized crime and his conviction for tax evasion. The story of Walter Annenberg is very much one of a man always in his father’s shadow. Yet his life also indicates how success can boil down to good instincts and a willingness to take risks. Had Walter Annenberg not invested in television when few believed in its potential, or foreseen the profits to be made from post-war teenage consumers, he might have remained nothing more than Moses Annenberg’s son. Instead, he pulled his family’s company out of debt and amassed a fortune that allowed him to give away more than $3 billion in cash and art over the course of his life.

Family and Ethnic Background

Walter Annenberg’s ancestors had lived in the contested region of East Prussia for over a century before his grandfather Tobias began the family’s journey to the United States in 1882. Kalvishken, their home village located by the Baltic Sea, was claimed at times by Russia and at others by Germany.[2] Tobias and his wife Sheva (also called Sarah or Sophie) were Orthodox Jews who spoke German and other languages, including Yiddish. Although not far from the Russian Jewish ghetto known as the Pale of Settlement, in Kalvishken they interacted with both Jews and gentiles as neighbors and as the owners of a store.[3] The consolidation of the German Empire left a significant mark on the family. In 1871, as part of an effort to unify the new state, census takers bestowed upon them the surname Annenberg, meaning “of the hill” (on am Berg).[4]

Tobias, seeking a better life abroad, left for Chicago in 1882 and shortly thereafter called on his eldest son Jacob to join him.[5] The other Annenbergs, save for one married daughter who emigrated later, departed from the port of Hamburg on August 8, 1885, aboard the ship Australia.[6] Both Tobias and Sheva benefitted from the generosity of sisters whose families had prospered in cigar manufacturing and silver mining in the United States. Jacob and Tobias initially made their living as peddlers, but by 1887 Tobias had opened a retail grocery at 1255 State Street in Chicago.[7]

Growing up, Walter Annenberg’s father Moses, known as “Moe,” and his brother Max drifted away from their parents’ Orthodox Jewish faith and into the tough, spirited world of Chicago’s South Side. Moses found work first as a Western Union messenger, a rail-station hack starter, and a street corner newsboy. Like his brothers Max and Jacob, he, too, made his money as a bartender; Moses also worked for his sister Eva’s husband, Samual Epstein, a saloon owner. In 1899, Max and Moses operated their own grocery, Annenberg Bros., but this too was perhaps supplemented by liquor sales, as Max had previously been a bartender at his father’s grocery.[8]

Moses Annenberg married Sadie Cecelia Friedman on August 20, 1899.[9] The two were very different and likely had an arranged marriage.[10] Notably, Sadie was devoted to her Jewish faith.[11] Yet together they raised, in addition to son Walter, eight daughters: Diana, Esther, Pearl, Janet, Enid, Lita, Evelyn, and Harriet.[12]

Not long after the marriage, the Annenberg Bros. grocery proved unprofitable. Max, who had fared well in the publicity office of the 1893 Columbian Exposition and its Illustrated World’s Fair, returned to newspaper work with the Chicago Tribune as a canvasser in 1899. He sold subscriptions for William Randolph Hearst’s Chicago American and incorporated his struggling brother Moses into the newspaper circulation business. Competition between Chicago’s newspapers for customers was intense, underhanded, and violent. Moe Annenberg became a top salesman in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood by surrounding himself with an armed gang of would-be mobsters and defending his right to sell with a revolver and a baseball bat.[13]

Moe Annenberg received several promotions and endeared himself to Hearst, but friction with Max and a desire to raise his growing family in a more salubrious environment made him restless. First-born daughter Diana’s death from tubercular meningitis in 1905 caused Sadie to become anxious about the well-being of the three other children. Moses convinced Chicago newspaper publishers to consolidate distribution in Milwaukee under his direction, and the Annenberg family moved to that city in October 1906.[14]

The Annenbergs’ wealth grew, and they participated in the German-American culture that flourished in Milwaukee. Walter Hubert Annenberg, their sixth child, was born on March 13, 1908. In his youth, he confronted the challenges of being born with a deformed ear and partial deafness, and overcame a stutter that contributed to his introverted personality.[15] Walter attended the German-English Academy (now the University School of Milwaukee), where students studied German language and customs. At home, the family ate schnitzels and other German food, and Walter developed a lifelong appreciation for Usinger’s mortadella bologna. Perhaps due to the anti-German frenzy unleashed during World War I or because of the Annenbergs’ higher social status, the family ceased to eat traditional German fare upon moving to New York in 1920.[16] Nevertheless, eager for his children to understand their heritage, Moses took Walter and the rest of the family to Berlin, Salzberg, and Kalvishken in 1921.[17]

At age fifteen Walter enrolled in the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey. His father wanted Walter to accrue the social benefits of the family’s new position while maintaining his integrity. Increasingly wealthy, Moses had recently acquired the Daily Racing Form in New York, which he would transplant and localize to several other cities and establish his authority over the creation and distribution of horse racing information. Peddie, an historically Baptist institution, impressed Moses for its emphasis on discipline, for reducing the social distance between rich and poor pupils, and for not limiting Jewish students to a set quota.[18]

Walter spent much of his senior year trading stocks, making his initial investment with $10,000 that his father won in poker.[19] Upon graduating in 1927, Walter committed one of his first acts of philanthropy by donating $17,000 to Peddie for a new track—money he had earned trading stocks on the market.[20] He then matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance at his father’s insistence, but college proved no match to the stock market in keeping Walter’s attention. He left Wharton and committed his energies to trading in 1928 and 1929, accumulating a portfolio worth $3 million.[21] Walter bought on margin, and his father warned him to be careful in the current economic climate. Moses sold his stocks on October 25, 1929, but Walter held on. When the market crashed four days later, Moses’s brokerage firm had to sell his son’s shares. Walter was left with $350,000 in the red. Moses paid his son’s debt with the stipulation that Walter never trade on margin again.[22]

In 1929, Moses welcomed Walter into the Cecelia Investment Company, the holding company he had founded in 1923. Through Cecelia, Moses held majority shares in the Daily Racing Form, as well in publications such as Screen Guide and Radio Guide.  The highly profitable Nation-Wide News Service, also part of Cecelia, used telephone and telegraph wires to collect information from as many as twenty-nine racetracks that were linked to illegal gambling and bookie operations in thirty-nine states.[23]

Walter Annenberg’s duties at Cecelia were light: his chief responsibility consisted of signing checks. His father shielded him from the racing interests. The younger Annenberg, however, took advantage of Screen Guide to travel to Hollywood and circulate as a wealthy bachelor among starlets. When Walter was twenty-six years old, Moses invested in the Miami Tribune and made Walter its business manager. Yet he held that title in name only. Most of Walter’s work with the Tribune centered on writing the gossip column “Boy About Town.” In 1936, Moses purchased The Philadelphia Inquirer, the sober newspaper of Philadelphia’s Main Line Republicans, but even in that highly legitimate venture he continued to dominate Walter and limit his contributions.[24]

Regardless of his day-to-day duties, on paper Walter was a director of Cecelia. That became important when, in 1939, a federal grand jury indicted Moses for evading income taxes on $3,258,810 between 1932 and 1936. Penalties increased the sum to over $5.5 million.[25] Walter had no part in the tax preparations, but he and other Cecelia associates were indicted for “aiding and abetting” the tax evasion.[26] With the understanding that charges against Walter, in particular, would be dropped, Moses pled guilty to one count of tax evasion. He consented to pay a fine of $9.5 million over seven years.[27] After serving nearly two years of a three-year sentence, Moses Annenberg was released for medical reasons. Ill with a brain tumor, he died on July 20, 1942.[28]

Although altered to the benefit of his daughters before he died, Moses Annenberg’s will still greatly favored Walter. The estate consisted primarily of two hundred and forty shares of Triangle Publications, the name given to Cecelia in order to distance the business from scandal. Yet they were all but worthless. The family’s debt amounted to roughly $5.5 million and their assets totaled approximately $2.7 million.[29] It fell upon Walter, now the head of Triangle, to bring the family back into solvency and deliver roughly $5 million in payments on the tax liability. Part of the deal Moses Annenberg struck involved government liens on the family’s real estate, but buyers were scarce during the Depression. Walter could have sold The Philadelphia Inquirer, which was mortgaged at $4 million, but he did not.[30] Revenues from The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily Racing Form stood between the Annenbergs and bankruptcy. Retention of those publications allowed Walter to pay the government.[31]

At the same time, Walter was navigating fatherhood and attempting to enter Philadelphia society as both a man of Jewish heritage and the son of a convicted felon. He married socialite Bernice Veronica “Ronny” Dunkelman in Toronto on June 26, 1938. Their daughter Wallis Huberta was born on July 15, 1939. Son Roger arrived exactly one year later, just a week before his grandfather Moses entered federal prison.[32] In 1941, the family left Philadelphia for a mansion on a fourteen-acre estate called Inwood, located in Wynnewood on Philadelphia’s Protestant, old-money Main Line.[33]

Walter and Ronny divorced in 1950,[34] and Walter married Leonore “Lee” Rosenstiel. Born Leonore Cohn in New York City on February 20, 1918, Lee and her sister were raised in Los Angeles by their uncle Harry Cohn, a founder of Columbia Pictures. Lee had been married previously (to Belden Katleman; they had a daughter, Diana) and at the time she met Walter Annenberg at a party in Boca Raton was married to Lewis Rosenstiel, the founder of Schenley Industries (with another daughter, Elizabeth). After obtaining a divorce, Lee was wed to Walter at Sadie Annenberg’s Manhattan home on September 29, 1951. It was a happy, mutually fulfilling marriage. Lee helped to foster Walter’s interest in art and proved to be an outstanding partner in his philanthropic endeavors.[35]  

Business Development: Seventeen Magazine

Bringing honor to Moses Annenberg’s name and restoring the family’s fortune were the driving forces behind Walter’s business and philanthropic ventures. It did not take long for Walter to find financial success, but there was no end to his sense of obligation to his father. On his desk, Walter kept a plaque engraved with words from a prayer for the dying: “Cause my works on earth to reflect honor on my father’s memory.” A painting of himself with Moses Annenberg’s image shadowing him in the background hung in Walter’s office.[36]

As head of Triangle, Walter assumed the positions of editor and publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1942 and proved himself a far more capable and much tougher boss than expected. The newspaper received accolades for its coverage of World War II.[37] Notably, Walter softened the Inquirer’s partisan Republican tone in light of the family belief that Moses Annenberg’s using the Inquirer to antagonize New Deal Democrats led to his indictment.[38] The paper also served to redress Walter’s social slights; those who snubbed him found themselves omitted from the newspaper. Yet Walter also used the Inquirer to initiate reform, for instance leading the campaign to make the large, private art collection of the late Dr. Albert C. Barnes open to the public.[39]

Walter’s first major independent business venture, Seventeen magazine, was an overnight success. All 400,000 of its initial September 1944 run sold out. Seventeen resulted from Walter Annenberg’s decision to reallocate Triangle’s wartime paper allotments to a fashion magazine. He knew that businesses were not selling as much advertising as they could, because magazines such as Vogue had to reject over one hundred pages of ads for each issue due to paper limits. A new magazine could tap those marketing dollars, but Triangle publications had used its paper allowance. Yet it was not barred from ceasing publication of one magazine to put its paper towards another. Walter decided to end Stardom for the sake of creating a fashion publication.[40] Although extremely popular before the war, movie magazines had lost sales to periodicals aimed at women’s fashion and civic responsibility.[41] Annenberg also decided to cease publication of Click, a sensationalist fan and photo magazine that he found distasteful, in order to use its paper for advertisements in Seventeen.[42]

Debate exists as to whether Walter Annenberg or Helen Valentine, Seventeen’s first editor in chief, formulated the idea for the magazine and its focus on high school-aged girls. Annenberg biographer Christopher Ogden relates Walter Annenberg’s version of events. In April 1944, Walter and his sister Enid Haupt were walking down Fifth Avenue when—peering into a store window featuring clothes geared towards teenage girls—Haupt  noted that there was no magazine aimed at that demographic. Walter soon began looking into creating such a publication.[43]

That story is in keeping with accounts that all but credit Enid Haupt with being Seventeen’s sole or first editor and do not square with explanations from early Seventeen staff members or with Helen Valentine’s prior experience as promotion director for Mademoiselle. There, Valentine played a significant role in convincing marketers to focus on women aged eighteen to thirty-four, just as she and her staff at Seventeen later promoted the idea of a teenage girl market to advertisers and retailers. In Valentine’s version, Walter Annenberg approached her to be editor of Stardom with the expectation that she would transform it into a women’s fashion magazine. Uninterested, Valentine instead took the opportunity to pitch her idea for a fashion and service magazine for teenage girls. Seventeen’s early emphasis not just on clothes and style but also on the importance of character building, service, and citizenship reflected Valentine’s editorial point of view.[44]

Whoever’s idea it was, Seventeen built upon the notion of a teen market born just before World War II (although advertising intended for adolescents had existed as early as the 1920s). In the late 1930s a majority of seventeen-year-olds graduated from high school and, with the end of the Depression, these “bobby-soxers” filled their leisure time with movies and swing music. Marketers responded by creating teen shops that sold clothing sized and styled specifically for high school-aged girls. In 1941, Parents magazine created Calling All Girls, the first magazine to attract teenage readers.[45]

The war and rationing, however, put the brakes on the bobby-soxers’ joyriding, soda-shop culture.[46] During the five years that Helen Valentine served as editor, Estelle Ellis, a promotion director hired by Walter Annenberg, worked hard to convince advertisers and retailers that teens were little more than consumers.[47] Yet that was not the message conveyed to Seventeen readers. In the knowing voice of an “older sister,” Valentine encouraged teen girls to focus on careers, democracy, social justice, and, at times, anti-consumption for the sake of the war effort. Like other adults who worked to combat the perceived outbreak of juvenile delinquency during the war, Valentine respected teens and stressed to them the responsibilities of citizenship. Under Valentine, Seventeen was a platform for selling clothes and makeup just as much as it was a primer for teen girls preparing for the post-war world. [48]

Seventeen may not have been Walter Annenberg’s idea, but his decision to change the editorial direction of the magazine allowed Seventeen to maintain its profitability in the consumer-driven world of the post-war era. The teenage market that stalled during the war revived by the end of the 1940s. Likewise, other youth marketers emerged, putting more focus solely on teenagers as consumers. Without the economic constraints of wartime, shopping as a lesson in citizenship rang hollow.[49] After World War II, advertisers’ interests also shifted in ways that did not mesh with Valentine’s image of the teenage girl as citizen. Ads for sterling silver flatware in Seventeen reflected the national shift towards women’s—even young women’s—domesticity. Seventeen also inspired competing magazines, such as Deb and Junior Bazaar, which threatened to lure away Seventeen readers and advertisers. Even Calling All Girls renamed itself Senior Prom in 1949.[50]

On February 15, 1950, Helen Valentine resigned in response to recent changes in the magazine instrumented by Walter Annenberg.[51] Since 1948, Walter had been pushing Valentine to widen Seventeen’s focus to include “juniors”—girls and women in their early twenties. The change, he expected, would expand the potential for advertising profits because women in the older age group had more spending money. He also believed that teenage girls wanting to dress and shop like their older counterparts would continue to read Seventeen. With the change Seventeen’s circulation reached one million and the money it realized from ads increased to $3.4 million.[52]

Walter promoted his sister Enid Haupt to the position of publisher in 1954 and she became editor one year later. Haupt thus embodied the business and the creative sides of the magazine. She remained the magazine’s publisher until 1962, when she assumed the post of editor-in-chief. Under Haupt’s leadership the magazine thrived. In August 1969, for instance, Seventeen’s total circulation was 1,742,045, and it outsold Glamour (1,649,372) and Mademoiselle (934,593). Haupt left Seventeen in 1970.[53]

Advancing into Radio and TV

The Philadelphia Inquirer and the steady profits from the Daily Racing Form helped Walter to make payments on the family’s inherited tax debt, but Seventeen’s early success allowed him to pay the balance in full in 1946. Revenue from Seventeen also permitted him to enter into the realm of television. In 1945, Triangle purchased Philadelphia radio station WFIL from the Lit Brothers department store for $190,000.[54] Walter was particularly interested in WFIL’s possession of a permit to create a television affiliate. Staff members at both Triangle and the Inquirer did not think television a shrewd investment, but Walter believed that it would become a transformative medium. With the tiny initial outlay of a three-cent stamp, Walter mailed a television license application to the Federal Communications Commission and received approval in 1948.[55]

As Walter learned the television business, he relied on Roger Clipp, the manager of WFIL’s radio station, to help him acquire sixteen other radio and television stations, many in remote markets.[56] WFIL’s network, the American Broadcasting Company, did not provide afternoon programming for local affiliates, so Walter Annenberg took an active role in creating television shows. In order to air something more profitable than the poorly-watched movie reruns that had dominated WFIL’s schedule to date, WFIL transferred the radio show Bandstand to television in 1952. Soon 60 percent of afternoon viewers in Philadelphia were turning their dials to Bandstand.

Walter backed the wildly popular, cheap-to-produce, profitable program, which also furthered his goal to create “wholesome” programming.[57]American Bandstand, the national version of the show, cast a clean-cut gloss over the sexually stimulating, rebellious world of rock-and-roll music. Like Seventeen, AmericanBandstand showed young people how to dress and act in a decent and respectable—as well as stylish—manner. Wholesomeness was also one of Walter’s goals for Seventeen. He refused to include advertisements for beer, liquor, hair dye, or cigarette companies in its pages.[58]American Bandstand’s trusted host, Dick Clark, proved a double boon by reinforcing the program’s upright message in articles published in Seventeen.[59]

Mindful of his self-taught father’s lack of formal education, in 1950 Walter also directed Clipp to use WFIL airtime for educational television shows. On January 1, 1951, the station debuted Studio Schoolhouse and University of the Air. Aimed at children, Studio Schoolhouse grew out of a radio program that WFIL first broadcast in 1943. The more successful University of the Air brought college courses to viewers.[60] Running five days a week and led by professors from twenty universities and colleges, early University of the Air classes included “Nuclear Physics,” “The Chemistry of Living,” and “The Study of American Folklore, Literature, and Music.”[61]

Business Development: TV Guide

In the early 1950s, several independent publications focused on television program listings. In the larger markets they included TV Digest in Philadelphia, TV Guide in New York City, and TV Forecast in Chicago. Walter Annenberg thought to combine the best attributes of those magazines into one publication. In order to avoid copyright violations and competition, he bought them all. Triangle purchased TV Digest for $150,000, TV Guide for $1.5 million, and TV Forecast for $1 million.[62] Soon after that, Triangle acquired similar magazines in local markets and developed editions in new ones, including Los Angeles, in order to produce TV Guide for nation-wide consumption.[63]

Just like Moses Annenberg’s Daily Racing Form, TV Guide contained a section of copy of national interest that was then bound with a regionalized section. A block of content included in all issues of TV Guide was compiled at Triangle headquarters. This in-color portion contained articles on the television industry and pieces about television stars. Headquarters then shipped the “wraparound” portion to plants across the country to be combined with customized pages of local content consisting chiefly of plot summaries and program listings unique to each area.[64]

TV Guide also took cues from Radio Guide, another Moses Annenberg publication. Begun in 1931, Radio Guide circulated nationally every week. It included seventeen regional editions with local program listings. Stories about radio stars or the medium itself were suitable for the nationwide audience. Radio Guide continued until 1943 (by then called Movie and Radio Guide), when Walter Annenberg ceased publication in the face of war-time paper shortages.[65]

TV Guide was by far Walter Annenberg’s most successful television-related business venture. It debuted on April 3-9, 1953, with infant Desi Arnez IV, son of Lucille Ball, on the cover. That first issue sold 1.5 million copies. By 1960 TV Guide sold over seven million copies weekly. By 1970, it rested on top of television sets in twenty million homes. It also received more advertising revenue than any other magazine at that time and was the highest circulated magazine in the history of publishing.[66] It peaked in 1978 at twenty-one million copies purchased per week.[67]

There is no single explanation for the popularity of TV Guide. Newspapers provided local television listings, so readers did not buy it solely for the sake of learning the day’s programming. Unlike newspapers, TV Guide provided commentary not only on stars but also on the medium itself. The articles clearly interested readers enough for them to buy the magazine despite the availability of television listings elsewhere. TV Guide also was small enough to sit conveniently atop a television set, rendering it very user friendly.

Making it easy for supermarkets to sell the magazine also assured sales. The magazine’s size allowed grocers to keep it on a compact shelf near the checkout counter. It was also practically labor free for stores. There was no need to price it or stock it, as the cost was set on the cover and TV Guide sent associates to unpack cartons and fill shelves. TV Guide also billed headquarters rather than the grocery franchises themselves. There was simply little risk for supermarkets, who made a consistent weekly profit on an item that required next to no effort.[68]

With yet another strong, lucrative publication on his hands, Walter Annenberg purchased the fledgling Philadelphia Daily News in 1957. The acquisition not only put Walter in control of two of Philadelphia’s three daily papers but also allowed him to transform a Democratic-oriented tabloid that had criticized the Inquirer’s investigation of Democratic members of the state parole board. Walter remained convinced that Democrats had interfered with his father’s parole. The Daily News’ political orientation had been Republican until its chairman of the board, who was also the Democratic State Finance Committee chairman, switched it to an “Independent-Democratic” position in January 1955. Under Walter Annenberg, The Philadelphia Daily News became, like the Inquirer, a middle-of-the-road Republican newspaper. When Walter acquired it for $3 million, the Daily News was running at a loss.[69] Yet within two years Walter made it a profitable publication by cutting staff, reducing daily editions from six to two, ceasing the Sunday newspaper, and printing sensationalist stories about sex and crime. Circulation doubled within five years of Walter’s purchase.

The paper also succeeded by publishing popular stories that highlighted the work of law-and-order police officer Frank Rizzo and by appealing to white fears of urban crime in Philadelphia.[70] The publisher and the “Cisco Kid” were friends and confidantes. Walter appreciated Rizzo’s tough approach to policing and he certainly profited from white readers’ interest in unchecked stories in both the Daily News and the Inquirer that celebrated cops who used physical force to impose order on the city and black offenders. Walter encouraged Rizzo to run for mayor, but their friendship eventually fractured in 1978 when Rizzo told Philadelphians to “vote white.”[71]

The Philadelphia Daily News did not aim high, but TV Guide did. Walter Annenberg deliberately set out to make TV Guide not only popular and profitable, but also a publication that would improve viewers’ tastes in television and educate them on the medium’s entertainment and business aspects. In its earliest incarnation, when Americans were still buying their first televisions, TV Guide served as a booster. Editors provided content that celebrated rather than criticized television. That did not mean that all programs received praise; TV Guide noted the negative qualities of game shows and soap operas in particular. It encouraged readers to seek more demanding content and chastised viewers for being unsophisticated when programs of merit were cancelled for low ratings.[72]

Editor Merrill Panitt and Walter Annenberg fully understood that television had to appeal to a wide audience in order to be profitable, but they also pressured television networks to raise the quality of programming. For that matter, TV Guide encouraged networks to end the practice of single sponsorship for programs, because giving networks the final say over scripts might improve quality. In keeping with his right-leaning politics, Walter did not advocate censorship. Instead, he believed that a democratic process informed by discerning viewers—whose preferences were shaped by TV Guide—would prompt networks to create television programs of a higher standard in order to meet demand.[73]

Its mission to lift viewers’ tastes served TV Guide well with advertisers in the 1960s and 1970s. (In the 1950s TV Guide was not as forthright as it was in later years, largely because advertisers were unsure about television’s future.)[74] Yet as marketing revenues increased, TV Guide expanded its intellectual side and advertisers responded to TV Guide’s more highbrow reputation. TV Guide, according to Business Week, was one of the top-selling weeklies in the United States by 1961. That same year, TV Guide’s advertising profits increased by $6 million.[75] Both circulation and advertising revenues peaked in the 1970s. By 1975, TV Guide earned more than all its competitors, realizing over $127 million, and it continued to see growth for the next three years.[76]

Confident of the magazine’s profitability, Walter and Merrill Panitt began in 1960 to tweak TV Guide’s tone, making it much more thoughtful. Articles on television stars included psychological assessments of their lives and approached the business side of Hollywood with a critical eye.[77] Writers and public intellectuals such as Max Lerner, Betty Friedan, Gore Vidal, Margaret Mead, and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. contributed articles. Political figures including John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Nelson Rockefeller also wrote for TV Guide. Through the column “As We See It,” Walter and Merrill Panitt encouraged readers to tune into symphonies, ballets, and public broadcasting. In 1961, they used their platform to petition the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enforce the stipulation that stations air programs “in the public interest” in order to renew their licenses.[78]

By the 1970s, however, TV Guide editorial content indicated that it no longer espoused the notion that efforts to improve tastes would lead viewers to seek out higher-quality programming and, thus, encourage networks to create it.[79] Rivals also prompted the magazine to abandon its lofty aims. Competition from publications such as People Magazine and TV Cable Week, published by Time, Inc., forced TV Guide to become more like a fan magazine beginning in the late 1970s. In response to the presence of TV Cable Week, in 1983, TV Guide added the “Insider” section consisting of very short pieces on television stars. TV Cable Week ceased publication after six months, but TV Guide continued to publish the popular “Insider,” as well as to include increasingly brief content in keeping with magazines like People. TV Guide’s shift to fan magazine came into full fruition with Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of Triangle Publications in 1988.[80]

Mixing Business with Politics

Voices from both the right and the left appeared in TV Guide, but the publication became more partisan in the late 1960s and especially so during the Nixon administration. In 1962, Walter Annenberg refused to air the documentary “The Political Obituary of Richard Nixon” on his New Haven or Philadelphia ABC affiliates. The role of Alger Hiss in the program particularly dismayed Walter. He was offended that Hiss, an accused spy convicted of perjury, was allowed to denigrate Nixon, a recent gubernatorial candidate in California. (For that matter, Nixon had played a role in making the perjury charge against Hiss stick.) In the Inquirer, Annenberg laid out his reasoning for not airing the program. TV Guide’s coverage of the matter gave lip service to the idea that it was ABC’s prerogative to broadcast what it wished, but ultimately the magazine championed Walter’s position that local affiliates should be able to reject network mandates when they saw fit. The incident clearly showed that Walter used the magazine to further a partisan position. Yet not until the late 1960s did the publication consistently put its politics at the forefront.[81]

Through TV Guide, Walter Annenberg expressed disapproval with the amount of attention that television gave to liberals and to social upheaval—urban riots, violence in the cities, radicals, anti-war activists, and hippies—as opposed to Richard Nixon’s “Silent Majority.” TV Guide made the case that because the left engaged in a politics marked by spectacle it received undue coverage on television, a medium particularly suited for excesses of visual imagery. Intentional or not, that constituted a form of bias.[82]

Walter Annenberg’s role as publisher of TV Guide put him in a prime position to criticize how and how much television news aired liberal, radical, or violent footage. (As a matter of fact he had critiqued television in the magazine since its inception.) When he felt that television coverage was detrimental to the nation, he used his magazine to take a stand. Yet now he did so at the same time that the Nixon administration called news organizations to task for, in its view, unfairly and negatively shaping how the nation perceived the president and ignoring the viewpoints of most of the population.[83]

There is no definitive evidence of a link between TV Guide and the Nixon administration, but speculation points that way. Walter Annenberg was Richard Nixon’s appointee for ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, a position he held from 1969 to 1974. Members of the administration who published articles on television in TV Guide included Vice President Spiro Agnew and Nixon advisor Patrick Buchanan. In 1988, researcher Robert Ranftel claimed to have personally seen a White House document showing that Walter agreed to use TV Guide to further the administration’s aims. According to staff interviews conducted by Glenn C. Altschuler and David I. Grossvogel, TV Guide launched the highly partisan column “News Watch” in February 1974 at Walter’s directive. The idea for the new section arose during the televised Watergate hearings. Its raison d’être was to expose liberal bias in television news. Patrick Buchanan was its first contributor.[84]

Walter Annenberg denied that “News Watch” was his idea. Rather, he claimed, the editors wanted it. Critics, however, did not see it that way. As pointed out in the Los Angeles Times’ exploration of the Nixon administration’s campaign against media bias, Buchanan’s work with TV Guide began soon after one of Richard Nixon’s visits to Walter Annenberg’s home in Palm Springs. Buchanan, however, called that nothing more than a coincidence.[85]

Whatever the relationship between TV Guide and the Nixon administration, Walter Annenberg’s tenure as ambassador to the Court of St. James’s was not always easy. Trouble began even before his confirmation. An article published in the Washington Post that questioned whether the son of Moe Annenberg was suitable to become an ambassador soured Walter against Editor Katharine Graham. During the confirmation hearings, Senator J. William Fulbright cited the Post when bringing Moses Annenberg’s business practices and felony conviction to bear on Walter’s fitness for the job.[86]

Britons did not initially embrace Walter Annenberg either. A verbal gaffe before the Queen on April 29, 1969, might have mattered little had it not been shown on a BBC documentary watched by twenty-five million people. Annenberg’s deriding American student radicals in a speech before the Pilgrims Society also provoked British anti-Vietnam War sentiments.[87] Walter and Lee, furthermore, suffered socially when outgoing ambassador David Bruce and his wife stayed on in London and made the Annenbergs’ transition to British society very awkward.[88]

Walter found success in his position by applying his business experience. For instance, he assisted companies such as McDonald’s and Chase Manhattan as they tried to enter the British market. When British Petroleum faced the possibility that the Justice Department would use an antitrust suit to thwart a proposed merger with Standard Oil Company of Ohio, Walter intervened with the White House on BP’s behalf.[89]

Although his start was rocky, Walter Annenberg eventually endeared himself to Britons with his generosity and enthusiasm for British culture. Many of his gifts were anonymous, but he publicly gave $10,000 for the restoration of St. Paul’s Cathedral, $352,500 to the National Gallery for the purchase of Tropical Storm with Tiger by Henri Rousseau, as well as underwriting the publication of a coffee-table book about Westminster Abbey. Using $1.1 million of their own money, Walter and Lee Annenberg carefully refurnished and restored Winfield House, the residence of the ambassador.[90]

The Watergate scandal necessitated that Walter retain his diplomatic position longer than he had expected or desired. Yet for the rest of his life, he preferred to be addressed by the title Ambassador.[91] Not long after Nixon’s resignation, Walter summed up both his devotion to the president and his tenure in London: “This man has given me the greatest honor of my life.”[92]

Downsizing the Media Empire

Being the American representative at London did not mean that Walter Annenberg relinquished his business duties. From the top floor of Winfield House, outside of embassy hours, Walter continued to operate Triangle Publications. The State Department permitted him a private line to Philadelphia. Nevertheless, problems across the Atlantic led to his eventually selling The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.[93]

Managing the Inquirer from afar proved very difficult. Circulation and quality had dropped significantly in the 1960s; the newspaper needed new staff, including editors; and both the plant and the presses were out of date. In addition to those immediate issues, Milton Shapp had demanded that the FCC not renew WFIL’s license, claiming that Triangle had a monopoly on news in Philadelphia. In 1966, Walter had used the Inquirer to attack Shapp, a gubernatorial candidate, because he opposed the merger of the Penn Central and New York Central railroads. Shapp blamed Walter when he lost the election. Walter was not in a position to take on Shapp from London, but he took seriously the chance that the FCC would declare Triangle a monopoly.  Although the FCC eventually rejected Shapp’s claim, Walter decided to sell The Philadelphia Inquirer rather than lose the far more profitable WFIL. Walter sold both the Inquirer and the Daily News to Jack Knight for $55 million. The sale became final in January 1970.[94]

Soon Walter began the process of unloading more of Triangle for the sake of devoting his life and fortune to a new purpose. Annenberg biographer John Cooney finds that the ambassadorship changed Walter’s outlook on business and success. It gave him a new sense of self, one that was no longer content with the prospect of continuing to expand his media empire. Walter began selling Triangle in order to give away his money.[95]

In 1970, he agreed to sell nine television and radio stations in Fresno, New Haven, and Philadelphia to Capital Cities Broadcasting for $110 million in cash and notes.[96] In 1972, the FCC approved the sale of seven of Triangle’s broadcasting properties in Pennsylvania and New York to Gateway Communications, headed by former Triangle employee George Koehler, for $16 million.[97]

As Walter Annenberg reached his eightieth birthday in March 1988, journalists and business insiders openly wondered when he would make a move regarding the future of Triangle. Advertising revenues from Seventeen and TV Guide were the highest they had ever been, leading journalists to speculate that this would be a good time to sell. It seems no one expected him to pass on the company to someone within Triangle or to a member of the Annenberg family. Walter publicly said little on the matter and denied requests for interviews.[98] In 1987, however, he had acknowledged in Fortune that within the next few years he would decide on Triangle’s future. At that time, he expected to merge or sell, and he also indicated that he did not foresee his daughter or any of his five living sisters heading Triangle. Members of wealthy families, he explained, “do not necessarily have the lash of ambition on their back and become what I describe as well-fed house dogs.”[99] There is also nothing to indicate that a family member desired to take over the company.

Annenberg sold Triangle Publications to News Corp., Rupert Murdoch’s holding company, in 1988 for $3.2 billion—$2 billion more than its estimated value.[100] The sale, the largest ever in publishing, included Seventeen, TV Guide, the Daily Racing Form, and all of Triangle’s printing plants. Most likely a variety of factors contributed to Walter’s decision to sever his family’s ties to the publishing industry, including competition from similar magazines and changes in leisure interests,[101] lack of a suitable heir, and philanthropic pursuits.

Competition Looms Large

Soon after the deal with Murdoch, Annenberg commented that the Annenberg School, a granting foundation, would immediately benefit. It owned almost one-third of Triangle stock. The Annenberg School funded two schools of communication, one at the University of Pennsylvania and one at the University of Southern California, and stood to see its assets balloon from $200 million to $1 billion.[102] Arguably it was in the Annenberg School’s best interest for Walter to sell to someone with deep pockets when the company was at a high point.

But Walter had also seen possible struggles ahead. The Daily Racing Form appeared to be headed on a downward slide despite the fact that it still made a profit. The growth of cable sports and gambling casinos led Walter to believe that horseracing would lose fans.[103] Seventeen battled with magazines that arose in its image. They included Elle and In Fashion, owned by Rupert Murdoch, as well as John Fairfax Ltd.’s much hipper Sassy magazine, which spoke frankly to teenage girls about topics such as virginity, AIDS, and divorce. When Sassy debuted in March 1988, its publisher claimed that it aimed to appeal to the fourteen million American girls ages fourteen to nineteen, of whom less than one third read teen magazines. Sassy’s take on the genre attracted major clothing and cosmetics companies. For one page in Seventeen, an advertiser could buy five pages in Sassy.[104]

TV Guide also faced increasing competition, although for Rupert Murdoch, also the owner of the Fox television network, it was the major prize. TV Guide gave him access to computerized synopses of 150,000 television shows, as well as those of some 20,000 movies. It was still the top-selling weekly magazine in the United States and its advertising revenues remained strong.[105] Analyst J. Kendrick Noble, Jr. estimated its worth at $1 billion. However, other publications were actively trying to take a piece of the television pie. More newspapers were adding TV Guide-like magazines to their offerings. Cable television also nudged TV Guide towards change. The magazine had recently made public its intentions to offer a cable edition of TV Guide in New York City. The success of The Cable Guide served to cast doubt on TV Guide’s focus on broadcast television as Americans increasingly took advantage of expanded programming options.[106] TV Guide was still first over the finish line, but eighty-year-old Walter Annenberg could see its challengers gaining speed.

Philanthropic Endeavors

Walter Annenberg’s philanthropy was characterized by a drive to put the Annenberg name—specifically Moses Annenberg’s name—on projects that he initiated and in which he played a defining role. Just as he trusted his own judgment to take risks in business, Walter donated his money in bold and unexpected ways. For instance, he initiated the giving of money for communications study. He rarely sought publicity for his gifts and was often secretive about his contributions.[107]

Walter gave small personal gifts, e.g. to Triangle employees facing health crises or to the widow of the police officer killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, but he also donated to a range of causes by creating organizations through which to distribute his largesse.[108] In 1989, Walter established the Annenberg Foundation with $1 billion from the sale of Triangle.[109] Prior to that, he made donations as sole trustee of the Annenberg foundations. They consisted of eight charitable institutions primarily financed through profits accrued from Triangle stock repurchases. The eight included the Annenberg Fund, the M. L. Annenberg Foundation, and the charitable trusts of Walter’s six sisters. Walter centered his attention on the Annenberg Fund and the M. L. Annenberg Foundation (begun in 1944), as well as the Annenberg School, the granting body that operated out of Triangle’s Radnor, Pennsylvania headquarters.[110]

His mother Sadie Annenberg’s own commitment to giving also inspired Walter. In her name, Walter made gifts in the million-dollar range to medical and Jewish organizations during the 1940s and 1950s. They included the Mount Sinai Medical School in New York, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the United Jewish Agencies. In Sadie’s honor he also gave to the School of Music at the Williamsburg Settlement in Brooklyn, New York, which was renamed the Sadie Annenberg School of Music in 1956.[111] In the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War, Walter donated $1 million in Sadie’s memory to the Israel Emergency Fund of the Federation of Jewish Agencies.[112] Walter explained that his mother “always looked upon Israel as one of her causes.” He went on to give $30 million more to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pennsylvania, the agencies’ successor.[113] And although he did not practice Judaism himself, he also gave to Jewish and medical groups of his own accord. Donations for the furtherance of Jewish culture included $30 million to Dropsie College in Philadelphia for the creation of a center for Judaic and Near East studies. A founder, Walter also gave $11.3 million to the Eisenhower Medical Research Center in Rancho Mirage, California, near the Annenbergs’ 240-acre Sunnylands estate.[114] All told, Walter donated nearly $30 million to medical organizations.[115]

Another focus of his philanthropic endeavors were presidential libraries. Most notably, in 1994 the Annenberg Foundation gave $5 million to the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace.[116] Gifts ultimately totaled $8.5 million. He also contributed to the libraries of Republican presidents Gerald Ford ($350,000), George H. W. Bush ($2 million), Ronald Reagan ($3.5 million), and Democrat Jimmy Carter ($500,000).[117]

Yet more than any other philanthropist, Walter Annenberg backed the creation of institutions devoted to the study of media and communication.[118] Through the Annenberg Fund and a grant from the M. L. Annenberg Foundation, in 1958 Walter donated $3 million for the creation of the M. L. Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania for the purpose of graduate-level learning about publishing, radio, and television. In 1971, he helped to establish a similar school, also named for his father, at the University of Southern California. Earlier, in 1948, Walter had given money to Temple University for a school devoted to the study of radio.[119] Walter reinforced his commitments in June 1993 by donating $120 million to both Penn and the University of Southern California.[120] With the money, USC established the Annenberg Center for Communication. The two schools received $100 million in contributions in 2002.[121]

The $120 million dollar gifts to Penn and USC were part of a larger $365 million grant to private education in 1993. The sale of Triangle helped Walter to bolster his already impressive philanthropic efforts, especially in the field of education. He gave $25 million to Harvard University and $100 million to his alma mater, the Peddie School. The donation to Peddie raised its endowment to $117 million and permitted it to reserve significant funds for scholarships and financial aid. That was one of several contributions to Peddie. Notably, in 1967 Walter gave $2 million and another $12 million in 1983, in addition to—in cooperation with a fellow alumnus--$10 million in 1998.[122]

Walter Annenberg also left his mark on education more broadly. In 1993, for example, he pledged $500 million over five years to American public schools. The gift, announced at the White House on December 17, 1993, centered on school reform. Vartan Gregorian, a personal friend and the president of Brown University, helped to oversee the distribution of funds. Brown’s Coalition of Essential Schools, a network of seven hundred middle and high schools that advocated “active learning” (in which students take the lead with teachers assisting) and greater parental involvement in schools, received the most funds. Another beneficiary, the New American Schools Development Corporation, an idea from the Bush White House brought into being by business leaders in 1991, worked to disseminate ideas for school reform. A private organization, it helped the Clinton administration put its school reform legislation into operation. Funds from the gift also supported educational changes in rural and urban settings, arts education, and technological advancements in schools.[123]

Prior to those grants, in 1991 Annenberg gave $50 million to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) through the Annenberg Foundation.[124] The donation went to the UNCF’s “Campaign 2000: An Investment in America’s Future,” which sought to raise $540 million to be used at the forty-one colleges associated with the fund.[125] He had made earlier gifts to the UNCF as well, beginning with $100,000 in 1979, as well as $500,000 to Lincoln University, an historically black college in Pennsylvania, $2 million to Howard University, and $1 million to New Orleans’s Xavier University.[126] He made these contributions because he believed that black colleges and the UNCF could help bring young black Americans “into the mainstream of economic life.”[127]

Further educational bequests included the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Through the Annenberg School, in February 1981 Walter pledged $150 million, or $10 million per year distributed over fifteen years, to the CPB. Walter wished to see the creation of not-for-credit college courses for television, similar to the BBC’s Open University and the University of the Air programs. He hoped such a plan would serve to drive down the cost of higher education and, thus, help lower-income students receive a college education. The philanthropic act came just months after President Ronald Reagan announced his intention to end the CPB for the sake of reducing federal spending. The gift may have persuaded Reagan, Walter’s very good friend, not to proceed with the plan.[128] The CPB received another $60 million ten years later from the Annenberg Foundation. That grant supported the development of math and science programs aimed at students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.[129]

Annenberg’s endowments were not without controversy. Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania protested the naming of the proposed communications school for Moses Annenberg. They also took issue with what they perceived as Walter’s intentions to appoint faculty, and thus threaten the academic integrity of the institution.[130] In 1976, protests led Walter to rescind an offer to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Walter, a member of the board of trustees since 1974, proposed that the museum house a school or center that combined art with video technology for the sake of making great works of art and art history more accessible to the public. With enthusiastic support from P. F. Hoving, the director of the museum, Walter agreed to give the project $40 million in initial financial support. As the plan proceeded, however, opposition grew. Hoving’s intentions were called into question because he was still the museum’s director when he arranged to lead the new center when his tenure ended. Outcry from the New York Times and the city council became especially pointed with the announcement of plans to house the program on Central Park land. In the midst the controversy, Walter halted the funding and the entire initiative on March 16, 1976.[131]

Despite the 1976 controversy, in 1991 Walter Annenberg promised the Metropolitan Museum of Art a collection of art worth $1 billion to be bequeathed upon his death. The gift included more than fifty Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings by artists such as Degas, Monet, Matisse, Braque, Picasso, Cezanne, and Renoir.[132] Walter and Lee had given careful thought as to which museum should receive the paintings, leaving the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Gallery disappointed. Walter gave monies and sketchbooks by Cezanne totaling $15 million to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1987, as well as $5 million to the National Gallery in Washington in 1989. Yet the Annenberg couple believed that housing the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art gave it the best opportunity to be seen by as many people as possible.[133] Two years later Walter purchased Vincent van Gogh’s “Wheat Fields with Cypresses” for $57 million and donated it to the museum as well.[134]

All told, in addition to the over $1 billion Walter Annenberg bestowed in works of art, he gave away a total of more than $2 billion over the course of his life.[135]


Unlike Moses Annenberg, who made money from those who placed bets, Walter Annenberg found greater success by taking his own chances on underrated opportunities. By acting on the potential he saw in television, Walter strategically acquired early stations in diverse markets and created TV Guide. Recognizing the financial promise of post-war teenage consumer culture, Walter steered Seventeen towards that end. His philanthropic emphasis on communications reflected his embrace of risk as well.

At the age of ninety-four, Walter Annenberg died on October 1, 2002, in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. His wife Lee passed away at the couple’s Sunnylands estate on March 12, 2009. Walter’s daughter Wallis, assisted by three of her children, continues his philanthropic vision as chairman and president of the Annenberg Foundation in Los Angeles, California.[136]


[1] Andy Wallace and Rusty Pray, “Walter H. Annenberg: 1908-2002; Giant of Philanthropy Dies Here at 94,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 2002; “Mrs. Moses L. Annenberg Dies; Leader in Philanthropic Work,” New York Times, July 7, 1965; “Moe L. Annenberg, Publisher, Is Dead,” New York Times, July 21, 1942.

[2] Christopher Ogden, Legacy: A Biography of Moses and Walter Annenberg (Boston: Little, Brown, 1999) 9; Manifest of the Verona, December 1, 1882, (Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934,

[3] Ogden, Legacy, 11, 12, 27, 12; John Cooney, The Annenbergs: The Salvaging of a Tainted Dynasty (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982), 28.

[4] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 27; Ogden, Legacy, 9.

[5] Ogden, Legacy, 13-14.

[6] Ogden, Legacy, 16; Manifest of the Australia, August 8, 1885, (Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934,

[7] Ogden, Legacy, 27, 28; The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago (Chicago: The Chicago Directory Company, 1885), 140, (U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989,; The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago (Chicago: The Chicago Directory Company, 1887), 1845 (U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989,

[8] Ogden, Legacy, 32, 36; “Moe L. Annenberg, Publisher, Is Dead,” New York Times, July 21, 1942; The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago (Chicago: The Chicago Directory Company, 1896), 164 (U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989,; The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago (Chicago: The Chicago Directory Company, 1899), 164 (U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989,

[9] Sadie Friedman (Cook County, Illinois, Marriage Index, 1871-1920, Her father, Morris Friedman (1838? - November 8, 1937), was born in Poland to German-born parents and emigrated from Berlin in 1862. Her mother, Tina (or Fina), died when Sadie was ten. When Sadie was still a girl, the family, including three sons, moved from New York City to Chicago, where Morris became a second-hand goods dealer. Cf. “Mrs. Moses L. Annenberg Dies; Leader in Philanthropic Work,” New York Times, July 7, 1965; “Morris Friedman,” New York Times, November 9, 1937; Morris Friedman, November 8, 1937 (Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947,; Ogden, Legacy, 39; The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago (Chicago: The Chicago Directory Company, 1896), 701 (U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989,

[10] Ogden, Legacy, 39.

[11] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 30-31.

[12] Ogden, Legacy, 54-55, 273-277; Cooney, The Annenbergs, 41.

[13] Ogden, Legacy, 46-49

[14] Ogden, Legacy, 52-55.

[15] Ogden, Legacy, 65-66.

[16] Ogden, Legacy, 69-70, 77.

[17] Ogden, Legacy, 119-120.

[18] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 55-57.

[19] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 61-62. This sum is equivalent to roughly $134,000 in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[20] “Walter Annenberg, 94, Dies; Philanthropist and Publisher,” New York Times, October 2, 2002. This sum is equivalent to roughly $228,000 in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[21] This sum is equivalent to roughly $40.8 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[22] Ogden, Legacy, 125, 128-130. This sum is equivalent to roughly $4.7 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[23] Ogden, Legacy, 131; “Moe L. Annenberg, Publisher, Is Dead,” New York Times, July 21, 1942.

[24] Ogden, Legacy, 133-34, 136-37, 139-40, 185; “Inquirer Is Sold in Philadelphia,” New York Times, August 1, 1936.

[25] This sum is equivalent to roughly $92.2 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[26] Ogden, Legacy, 218, 220; “Indicts Annenberg As a Tax Evader,” New York Times, August 12, 1939.

[27] Ogden, Legacy, 223-224; “Moe L. Annenberg,” New York Times, July 21, 1942.

[28] “Moe L. Annenberg,” New York Times, July 21, 1942; “Walter Annenberg, 94, Dies,” New York Times, October 2, 2002.

[29] These sums are equivalent to roughly $78.6 million and $38.6 million respectively in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[30] Ogden, Legacy, 224, 246, 249.

[31] Ogden, Legacy, 249.

[32] The boy soon required several surgeries for a cleft lip and palate. Many years later, while a student at Harvard University, Roger began to exhibit eccentric behaviors. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and Walter moved him to a psychiatric facility in Pennsylvania. On August 7, 1962, at the age of twenty-two, Roger Annenberg committed suicide by drug overdose while under a physician’s care. Cf. Cooney, The Annenbergs, 270-274; “Roger Annenberg,” New York Times, August 15, 1962.

[33] “Publisher’s Son Weds,” New York Times, June 27, 1938; Bob Colacello, “Her Own Kind of Annenberg,” Vanity Fair, October 2009 (accessed June 20, 2014) ); Ogden, Legacy, 264, 266, 267-268, 269, 271.

[34] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 218.

[35] Karen Heller, “Leonore Annenberg – 1918-2009: A Gifted Life,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 13, 2009; Cooney, The Annenbergs, 224-225; “Mrs. Rosenstiel Bride,” New York Times, September 30, 1951.

[36] Waldemar A. Nielsen, Inside American Philanthropy: The Dramas of Donorship (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996), 63.

[37] “Walter Annenberg, 94, Dies,” New York Times, October 2, 2002.

[38] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 188; Ogden, Legacy, 219.

[39] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 186, 266-268; John Anderson, Art Held Hostage: The Battle Over the Barnes Collection (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2013 [2003]), 51-52, 91.

[40] Ogden, Legacy, 284-286.

[41] Kelley Massoni, A Cultural History of Seventeen Magazine (Left Coast Press: Walnut Creek, California, 2010), 37.

[42] Ogden, Legacy, 186-87, 286.

[43] Ogden, Legacy, 284.

[44] Grace Palladino, Teenagers: An American History (Basic Books: New York, 1996), xvi; Massoni, A Cultural History,7, 29, 37-38, 188-90.

[45] Palladino, Teenagers, 52-56.

[46] Palladino, Teenagers, 60.

[47] Massoni, A Cultural History,81, 85-87, 106.

[48] Massoni, A Cultural History,62, 67-68, 79; Palladino, Teenagers, 91.

[49] Palladino, Teenagers, 101-102.

[50] Massoni, A Cultural History,126, 142-144.

[51] Massoni, A Cultural History,177.

[52] Ogden, Legacy, 288. This sum is equivalent to roughly $32.9 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[53] “Promoted to Publishers of Seventeen Magazine,” New York Times, January 21, 1954; Enid Nemy, “Enid A. Haupt, Philanthropist, Dies at 99,” New York Times, October 27, 2005; Ogden, Legacy, 289-90; “Which magazine really reaches,” New York Times, April 13, 1970 (advertisement).

[54] This sum is equivalent to roughly $2.4 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[55] “Publisher, Philanthropist Walter Annenberg Dies,” Washington Post, October 2, 2002; Ogden, Legacy, 322-33.

[56] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 205-06.

[57] Ogden, Legacy, 334-35.

[58] Massoni, A Cultural History,87.

[59] Palladino, Teenagers, 133-34.

[60] Ogden, Legacy, 332-33; Gerry Wilkinson, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia (accessed June 20, 2014).

[61] Val Adams, “Educational Television: An Opinion,” New York Times, June 10, 1951; “Well-known Professor to Retire,” New York Times, April 16, 1983.

[62] These sums are equivalent to roughly $1.3 million, $13.1 million, and $8.7 million respectively in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[63] Ogden, Legacy, 323-24.

[64] Glenn C. Altschuler and David I. Grossvogel, Changing Channels: America in TV Guide (Urbana and Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1992) 4-6.

[65] Elena Rozlogova, The Listener’s Voice: Early Radio and the American Public (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 58; Anthony Slide, Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine: A History of Star Makers, Fabricators, and Gossip Mongers (Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2010), 170.

[66] Ogden, Legacy, 326; Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 3.

[67] Ogden, Legacy, 326.

[68] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 6-7.

[69] This sum is equivalent to roughly $24.8 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[70] Ogden, Legacy, 371; Cooney, The Annenbergs, 255-256; “Paper Changes Policy,” New York Times, January 3, 1955; Andy Wallace and Rusty Pray, “Walter H. Annenberg: 1998-2002,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 2002.

[71] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 255-257, 345, 395.

[72] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 14-15, 19-20, 22, 29.

[73] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 15, 24-25, 27.

[74] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 59-60.

[75] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 31, 59-60. This sum is equivalent to roughly $46.7 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[76] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 64-65. This sum is equivalent to roughly $550 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[77] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 32, 33-34, 42.

[78] Ogden, Legacy, 330-331; Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 59.

[79] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 54-55.

[80] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 67-68, 79-80.

[81] “Walter Annenberg, 94, Dies,” New York Times, October 2, 2002; Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (New York: Scribner, 2008), 29-32; Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 166-67.

[82] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 166, 173, 179, 181; Perlstein, Nixonland, 434-435.

[83] Perlstein, Nixonland, 438-439; Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 179-183.

[84] Altschuler and Grossvogel, Changing Channels, 179, 182, 183-84.

[85] James Cameron, “Walter H. Annenberg, 1969-74,” in The Embassy in Grosvenor Square: American Ambassadors to the United Kingdom, 1938-2008, eds. Alison R. Holmes and J. Simon Rofe (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 183-184; “Administration Sees Bias, Seeks Balance,” Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1974.

[86] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 324-26, 329-30.

[87] Cameron, 180-81.

[88] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 434.

[89] Cameron, 179; Cooney, The Annenbergs, 350-51.

[90] Ogden, Legacy, 450-451, 456-457.

[91] “Walter Annenberg, 94, Dies,” New York Times, October 2, 2002; Ogden, Legacy, 466.

[92] Myrna Oliver, “Media Tycoon Gave Fortunes to Others,” Los Angeles Times, October 2, 2002.

[93] Ogden, Legacy, 438, 440-441.

[94] Ogden, Legacy, 383-85, 440-41, 443; Andy Wallace and Rusty Pray, “Walter H. Annenberg: 1998-2002,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 2002. This sum is equivalent to roughly $330 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[95] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 370.

[96] Ogden, Legacy, 443; “Sale Prepared of TV Station in New Haven,” The Hartford Courant, February 14, 1970; “Annenberg Interests Selling 9 Radio, TV Stations to Bring $110 Million,”The Washington Post, Times Herald, February 15, 1970. This sum is equivalent to roughly $660 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[97] Alexander R. Hammer, “Pasco Will Also Obtain Ex-Sinclair Stations for $160-Million,” New York Times, September 23, 1972; Cooney, The Annenbergs, 370. This sum is equivalent to roughly $89.1 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[98] “Triangle Rumors Growing with Annenberg’s Age,” Chicago Tribune, April 10, 1988; “Annenberg Still Reigns,” USA Today, March 11, 1988; Terry Bivens, “Annenberg’s 80th Birthday Fuels Speculation on Future,” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28, 1988.

[99] Brian Dumaine, “The Media Magnates; Why Huge Fortunes Roll of the Presses,” Fortune, October 12, 1987.

[100] This sum is equivalent to roughly $6.3 billion in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[101] Johnnie L. Roberts, “Murdoch’s News Corp. Will Buy Triangle Publications for $3 Billion --- TV Guide, Other Properties Involved in Transactions; End of Annenberg Era,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 1988; Ogden, Legacy, 519-20.

[102] Richard Koenig, “Annenberg-Funded Philanthropy to Get Big Cash Infusion from Sale of Triangle,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 1988.

[103] Ogden, Legacy, 517.

[104] Roberts, “Murdoch’s News Corp.”; Orange County Register, June 21, 1991; Suzanne Daley, “Sassy: Like, You Know, for Kids,” New York Times, April 11, 1988.

[105] Ogden, Legacy, 519.

[106] Roberts, “Murdoch’s News Corp.”; Beth D’Addono, “After Annenberg,” Focus: Metropolitan Philadelphia’s Business Newsmagazine, October 5, 1988.

[107] Nielsen, Inside American Philanthropy, 67, 69.

[108] Ibid, 64-65, 67, 69.

[109] This sum is equivalent to roughly $1.8 billion in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[110] Ogden, Legacy, 530; Peter Binzen, “The Role of Family Foundations Following Founders’ Ideas,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 16, 1985; “School of Communications Established by Annenberg Fund,” The Almanac (bulletin), University of Pennsylvania, Vol. 5. No. 4, (January 1959) 4 (accessed June 20, 2014).

[111] Ogden, Legacy, 380; Nielsen, Inside American Philanthropy, 65; “Mrs. Annenberg Hailed,” New York Times, May 21, 1956.

[112] This sum is equivalent to roughly $6.9 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[113] Joshua Runyan, “Farewell to a Businessman and Philanthropist,” Jewish Exponent (Philadelphia), October 3, 2002; quoted in Cooney, The Annenbergs, 307.

[114] Ogden, Legacy, 395, 481, 546; “Walter Annenberg, 94, Dies,” New York Times, October 2, 2002.

[115] Ogden, Legacy, 555.

[116] “Nixon Library Receiving Gift of $5 Million,” New York Times, January 20, 1994. This sum is equivalent to roughly $7.8 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[117] Ogden, Legacy, 546.

[118] Nielsen, Inside American Philanthropy, 66.

[119] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 282; Andy Wallace and Rusty Pray, “Walter H. Annenberg: 1998-2002,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 2002; “Walter Annenberg, 94, Dies,” New York Times, October 2, 2002.

[120] This sum is equivalent to roughly $193 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[121] “Publisher Gives $365 Million to 4 Schools; Walter Annenberg Sets Philanthropic Record,” New York Times, June 20, 1993; Andy Wallace and Rusty Pray, “Walter H. Annenberg: 1998-2002,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 2002.

[122] “Publisher Gives $365 Million,” New York Times, June 20, 1993; “$2-Million for Peddie School,” New York Times, November 7, 1967; “School Will Get Annenberg Gift of $12 Million,” New York Times, October 31, 1983; “Prep School Gets $10 Million from 2 Alumni,” New York Times, February 14, 1998.

[123] “Annenberg is Expected to Announce Education Gift at White House Event,” Wall Street Journal, December 16, 1993; “Annenberg to Give Education $500 Million Over Five Years,” New York Times, December 17, 1993; “Annenberg Pledges Grant for Education Reform,” Wall Street Journal, December 20, 1993; “Man with Millions is Seeking Schools Worth Spending It On,” Wall Street Journal, July 26, 1994.

[124] This sum is equivalent to roughly $85.5 million in 2013, see MeasuringWorth (accessed June 13, 2014).

[125] “Annenberg to Give $50 Million to United Negro College Fund,” New York Times, March 3, 1990.

[126] Ogden, Legacy, 533.

[127] Quoted in Ogden, Legacy, 534.

[128] Ogden, Legacy, 513; “Publisher Agrees to Donate $150 Million to Public TV,” Washington Post, February 27, 1981; “Annenberg Grants TV $150 Million for Courses,” New York Times, February 27, 1981; Cooney, The Annenbergs, 383-383.

[129] Brent Mitchell, George Larner, Jr., and Barbara Vobejda, “Technology and Teaching,” Washington Post, June 20, 1991.

[130] Cooney, The Annenbergs, 282.

[131] “Walter Annenberg, 94, Dies,” New York Times, October 2, 2002; Cooney, The Annenbergs, 387-391.

[132] “Annenberg Picks Met for $1 Billion Gift,” New York Times, March 12, 1991.

[133] “Portrait of a Collector: Walter Annenberg,” New York Times, April 25, 1990; Ogden, Legacy, 524-528.

[134] “Walter Annenberg, 94, Dies,” New York Times, October 2, 2002.

[135] Ibid.

[136] Andy Wallace and Rusty Pray, “Walter H. Annenberg: 1998-2002,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 2002; Heller, “Leonore Annenberg”; Colacello, “Her Own Kind of Annenberg.”


Cite this Entry

APA Style

"Walter Annenberg." (2018) In Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Retrieved February 25, 2018, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship:

Chicago Style

Burns, Catherine M. "Walter Annenberg." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 5, edited by R. Daniel Wadhwani. German Historical Institute. Last modified January 07, 2015.

MLA Style

"Walter Annenberg," Immigrant Entrepreneurship, 2018, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 25 Feb 2018 <>

Walter Hubert Annenberg, ca. 1960s

  • Peddie School class of 1927, students and faculty, on the steps of Wilson Hall
  • Walter Annenberg interviewed after announcing his donation to the Peddie School, 1993
  • Walter Annenberg in academic regalia and a Peddie School student using the computer the day of a ceremony on campus honoring Ambassador Annenberg, ca. 1993
  • President Reagan talking to Leonore Annenberg and Walter Annenberg at the President's birthday party in the East Room, February 6, 1981

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