Archive:John Hay Whitney (1905-1982)

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John Hay Whitney (1905-1982)

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, Tuesday, 9 Feb 1982, p. 10-A


Jock Whitney, 77, diplomat, sportsman

By John J. Goldman

Los Angeles Times Service

NEW YORK ---- John Hay Whitney, 77---diplomat, philanthropist, sportsman, key financial backer of the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower, symbol of the Eastern Establishment and the last publisher of the New York Herald Tribune---died Monday after a long illness.

Urbane, wealthy, concerned, strong enough to survive two serious heart attacks, Jock Whitney pursued a variety of careers with style and success.

As a motion picture pioneer, he founded Pioneer Pictures, which produced the first Technicolor three-reeler. He was chairman of the board of Selznick International Pictures and as a venture capitalist was in large measure responsible for bringing Gone With the Wind and Rebecca to the screen.

As ambassador to Britain's Court of St. James's during the Eisenhower administration, Mr. Whitney was a major force in Anglo-American relations.

As publisher of the Herald Tribune, which he bought against the advice of some of his financial counselors, he was a voice of moderate Republicanism.

And in his early years as a playboy, Mr. Whitney, who had been pudgy and had stuttered as a child, was also successful. He was often seen escorting such actresses as Tallulah Bankhead, Paulette Goddard and Joan Crawford.

He had a marvelous time, said his good friend, Richard Wald, senior Vice president of ABC News. He was a healthy, happy rich kid in a period when America liked rich people. He lived a marvelous life. ...

A descendant of John Whitney, who left England and settled in Massachusetts in 1635, Mr. Whitney was so secure that he never allowed his name to be listed in the Social Register, which he called a travesty of democracy with absurd notions of who is and who isn't socially acceptable.

His major interest throughout his life was, how do you organize society, what sort of people are we, what sort of place should society be, Wald said. He used to argue himself out at night and go to sleep a Democrat and wake up a Republican. He was concerned about people but he wanted to do it in a fiscally responsible way.

Mr. Whitney's interest in theater caused him to back a number of hit plays. One triumph: Life With Father.

He inherited a large fortune --- in an era of low estate taxes --- partly from his paternal grandfather, who consolidated street and railway lines in New York City, and from his uncle, Oliver Payne, an early associate of the first John D. Rockefeller.

He also inherited is family's interest in horses, which he shared with his sister, the late Mrs. Charles Shipman Payson who for a time was an owner of the New York Mets baseball team. Their mother had been owner of the famous Greentree Stables and breeding farm in Kentucky which her son and daughter ran.

In 1928, Mr. Whitney, then in his early twenties, was the youngest member ever to be elected to the Jockey Club.

Mr. Whitney founded J. H. Whitney & Co., a highly successful postwar investment banking firm.

Mr. Whitney, who attended Yale and Oxford, was a force in the Republican Party when Gen. Eisenhower was president.

In 1946, Mr. Whitney established the John Hay Whitney Foundation for educational projects, including fellowships for the racially and culturally deprived.

Other recipients of his philanthropy included the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Washington's National Gallery of Art and various hospitals in the New York metropolitan area.

His ancestry: John Hay11 (Payne10, William Collins9, James Scolly8, Stephen7, Josiah6, Josiah5, Richard4, Richard3, Richard2, John1),

Copyright © 1999, 2006, The Whitney Research Group

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