Walter H. Annenberg

Kathleen Hall Jamieson

in Communication

ISBN: 9780199756841
Published online April 2012 | | DOI:
Walter H. Annenberg


When he was nominated by President Richard Nixon to serve as US ambassador to the Court of St. James’s in 1969, a post he held until 1974, Walter H. Annenberg had won the 1951 Alfred I. Dupont Award for pioneering education through television, founded a graduate school dedicated to the study of communication, assembled an Impressionist and Postimpressionist art collection considered among the finer in the world, and made a fortune from media holdings, including Seventeen, TV Guide, the Daily Racing Form, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and sixteen radio and television stations in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and California, including WFIL in Philadelphia. Throughout his time as a magazine, newspaper, radio, television, and cable owner, Annenberg’s media shaped teen culture through Seventeen magazine and the televised after-school dance show American Bandstand. His TV Guide shaped the public’s understanding of the emerging medium of television, and on the editorial pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News Annenberg boosted the fortunes of mayoral and presidential candidates he favored while blasting those he opposed. In 1969 Annenberg sold the two Philadelphia papers to Knight Newspapers; in the following years he parted with his television and radio stations. Capital Cities Communications used that acquisition to help build what is now the ABC television network. For $3 billion in 1988 Annenberg sold TV Guide, Seventeen, and the Daily Racing Form to Rupert Murdoch’s News America Corporation. Using some of the proceeds to fund the Annenberg Foundation, the former ambassador to Great Britain devoted the rest of his life to making major gifts to culture and arts organizations, to colleges and universities, to the prep school from which he had graduated, and to projects designed to improve public schools. At the time of his death, the Annenberg Foundation had given away over a billion dollars. After Annenberg’s death, his widow, Leonore, assumed the reins of the Annenberg Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, a 501(c)3 fund they established just after the turn of the 21st century to support programming tied to their California estate, a modernist home that passed into the trust at her death in 2009. Across the Annenbergs’ lifetimes the Annenberg Foundation dispensed over $4.2 billion.

Article.  5276 words. 

Subjects: Communication Studies

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