William R. Wilkerson

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William Wilkerson
Born September 29, 1890
Nashville, Tennessee
Died September 2, 1962 (aged 71)
Los Angeles, California
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California
Occupation Publisher, businessman
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Helen Durkin
Edith Gwynn Goldenhorn
Rita Ann Seward
Estelle Jackson Brown
Vivian DuBois
Beatrice Ruby Noble

William Richard "Billy" Wilkerson (September 29, 1890 – September 2, 1962) was the founder of the Hollywood Reporter,[1] the Flamingo Hotel[2] and owner of such nightclubs as Ciro's. He was also responsible for discovering actress Lana Turner across the street from Hollywood High School.[3] In 1946 he began a series of columns in the Hollywood Reporter, listing suspected Communist sympathizers; "Billy's List" provided the foundation for what became the Hollywood blacklist. [4]

Personal life[edit]

Wilkerson was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 29, 1890. He began to study medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but when his father died leaving extensive gambling debts, Wilkerson quit school to support himself and his mother. He became a compulsive gambler himself, but quit when his son was born in October 1951.

Wilkerson had been in relatively poor health throughout the latter half of the 1950s due to decades of excessive smoking. He continued to head The Hollywood Reporter and write his daily Tradeviews column until his death. Wilkerson died of a heart attack on September 2, 1962, at his Bel-Air home, one day before the Hollywood Reporter′s 32nd anniversary. He is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

Wilkerson was married six times. His wives were:


When a friend won a Fort Lee, New Jersey movie theater in a bet, Wilkerson agreed to manage it in exchange for half the profits. Expanding his work in the movie industry, he became district manager at Universal Pictures under Carl Laemmle.

The Hollywood Reporter[edit]

Wilkerson published the first issue of the Hollywood Reporter on September 3, 1930.[5] He began each issue with a self-penned editorial entitled "Tradeviews", which proved highly influential. It was in these columns that he helped to initiate the "red scare" that led to the Hollywood blacklist.

Los Angeles and Las Vegas[edit]

Partial payment to Margret Folsom for the Flamingo land signed by William R Wilkerson, March 5, 1945

Wilkerson opened a series of social nightspots on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip. Seeing opportunities in Las Vegas, he made key investments there as well.

Restaurants, nightclubs and hotels that Wilkerson started:


  1. ^ "Hollywood Reporter". [dead link]
  2. ^ "Vegas". [dead link]
  3. ^ Biographical Information
  4. ^ Baum, Gary; Miller, Daniel (November 30, 2012). "Blacklist: THR Addresses Role After 65 Years". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Paper". [dead link]

Further reading[edit]

  • The Man Who Invented Las Vegas by W.R. Wilkerson III (Ciro's Books Publishing, 2000 ISBN 0-9676643-0-6)

External links[edit]