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Walter Annenberg
Please vote to return to collections (Voting Results will appear on Right Sidebar).
    (March 13, 1908-October 1, 2002)
    Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Publisher, diplomat and philanthropist
    Published the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Seventeen and TV Guide
    US Ambassador to the United Kingdom (1969-74)
    Sold his magazines to Rupert Murdoch for $3 billion (1988)
    Founded the charitable Annenberg Foundation (1989)
    Named a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1976)
    Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1986)
    With his wife Leonore, received the National Medal of Arts (1993)
    He and his father were both charged with tax evasion (1939); his father agreed to plead guilty in return for charges being dropped against Walter.
    He used the Philadelphia Inquirer to attack Milton Shapp, the Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania.
    Shapp opposed the planned merger of the New York Central Railroad with the Pennsylvania Railroad (whose largest individual stockholder happened to be Walter Annenberg).
    At a press conference, an Inquirer reporter asked Shapp if he had ever been a patient in a mental hospital, to which Shapp simply said 'No.' The next day, the Inquirer ran the banner headline 'Shapp Denies Mental Institution Stay.'
    When the Philadelphia Warriors would not come to lease terms with the Annenberg-owned arena they played in, the Inquirer stopped covering the team -- not even listing them in the NBA standings -- causing attendance to plummet.
    The Columbia Journalism Review commented, 'Annenberg never really understood the mission, the obligations or the principles of ethical journalism.' (1970)
    He irritated the British establishment at his first official press conference as ambassador, which he used to denounce student protestors in the US while barely mentioning Anglo-American relations.
    He was named 'most likely to succeed' at his prep school.
    He was married to Leonore Cohn for 51 years.
    He eventually won over the British through hard work, his wife's talents as a gracious hostess, and donations to favorite royal causes.
    He gave record donations of $50 million to the United Negro College Fund (1990) and $60 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (1991).
    He made the single largest gift for public education, $500 million over five years to improve schools in urban areas (1993).
    He donated his collection of French Impressionist art, valued at $1 billion, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
    He quipped about his philanthropy, 'I have heard it said that no good deed goes unpunished, but I don't intend to let that discourage me.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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