Saturday, May 04, 2013

Oddball Giant of the Original Oilmen: H.L. Hunt

During a bit of curiosity-driven research into an individual I'd never heard of, one H.L. Hunt, I slid down one of those internet rabbit-holes which await the unwary seeker.

To start at the beginning.....after watching TCM's showing of the remastered classic 1950s movie Giant, I casually looked for old reviews, noticed one written in 1996 by a favourite writer of mine, Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove etc.) Men Swaggered, Women Warred, Oil Flowed. McMurtry is a Texan, so would definitely be on the Giant wavelength. His review is very good - from such a writer how could it be otherwise? These snips from several paragraphs set me searching further:
What was perhaps not recognized in 1956 was that "Giant" was an elegy not merely for the cattlemen but for the wildcatters too - for the wildcatters were but an exit or two behind the cattlemen on the road to disappearance.......... by the end of the 50's, the more prominent wildcatters - H. L. Hunt, Sid Richardson, Glenn McCarthy, Clint Murchison Jr., Michel T. Halbouty, John W. Mecom - were citizens of a world on the wane. They were still making millions, and in Hunt's case, even billions - but a different and a duller day was about to dawn in the oil patch: the Day of the Accountant...........THE GREAT STORY FROM the wildcatting era, a story yet to be touched by novelist or film maker, is the story of Hunt..... Hunt was from Smollett, Gogol, Dickens - a brilliant, untutored, full-fledged American crank, with three families, an exact replica of Mount Vernon to live in and a conviction that crawling was the best possible exercise. Yet before he was through, he probably made as much sheer spendable money as any American ever had. At least that's what his rival Getty thought.....When I think of the Hunts, or of the wildcatters in general, or of the big ranchers either, I'm reminded of the historian Richard Southern's wonderful book, "The Making of the Middle Ages", in which he writes, "from having too much to hold on to, they slowly lost what they had." Prof. Southern was speaking of the Germanic emperors of the 11th and 12th centuries, but he might have been speaking of the oilmen and cattlemen of our own.
Several sources indicate that H.L. Hunt and his family provided inspiration for the TV series Dallas. I decided that H.L. Hunt (in full: Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, Jr.) could be an intriguing subject for a post, maybe with a touch of astrology thrown in - nobody else seems to have touched that, nearest I came to any mention of astrology was this from a piece by Peder Zane in the New York Times in 1994
"If people knew how many people, especially the very rich and powerful ones, went to psychics, their jaws would drop through the floor," said Rosanna Rogers, a psychic from Cleveland who claims to have 4,000 names in her Rolodex. "But we know Nancy Reagan, she had an astrologer, and John Lennon and H. L. Hunt and J. P. Morgan used psychics. Morgan, you know, he said, 'Millionaires don't use psychics, billionaires do.' "
The life story of H.L. Hunt follows a fairly recognisable trend - I've seen it before when scribbling posts about some of the USA's best-known business tycoons of past decades, men such as Erle Halliburton, Sam Walton, Ray Kroc. From humble beginnings many decades ago their enterprises have, by now, exploded into monsters: Halliburton, Walmart and McDonalds in the case of the before-named individuals. H.L. Hunt didn't come from an exactly poverty-stricken background, his father was a prosperous farmer, but in his wildest teen-dreams I doubt that H.L. ever envisioned becoming the richest man in America.

The story goes that he began his career running a cotton plantation in Arkansas. It failed after a flood. He was a gambler - bit of a card counter it seems - after his plantation failed he made a lot of money playing poker in New Orleans, allegedly turning $100 into $100,000. He went on from there to dabble in the oil lease business. He pulled off a veritable coup when a drunken companion signed away his interest in his Rusk County E.Texas oil field to HL for a reported $1,000,000, said to be worth billions. After that there was to be no stopping him. He founded Hunt Oil Company, eventually became the largest independent oil producer and gas supplier in the country. He expanded his boundaries, using innovative business ideas, invested in producing canned goods, health products, and cosmetics. He became one of the world's richest men. Below: Hunt's former house (now sold by his heirs) on a 10-acre Dallas estate. The house is an elaborate replica of George Washington’s plantation house, Mount Vernon.

His personal life was something of a jigsaw puzzle. He married Lyda Bunkerin Arkansas in 1914. They had six children. On Armistice Day 1925 a Franklin Hunt married Frania Tye in Florida. They had four children. On November 11, 1975, after H. L. Hunt had died, Mrs. Frania Tye Lee filed a civil complaint against Hunt in which she revealed the history of their relationship. They had married in 1925 and lived together in Shreveport until 1930, when they moved to Dallas. In May 1934 "Franny" had discovered Hunt's other marriage (to Lyda). Hunt apparently shipped her off to New York and in 1941 provided trusts for each of the four children. A friend of his, John Lee, married her and gave his name to the children. Lyda Bunker Hunt died in 1955. In November 1957 Hunt married Ruth Ray and adopted her four children, who had been born between 1943 and 1950. Ruth Hunt admitted in an interview that H. L. Hunt had, in fact, been their real father. H. L. and Ruth Hunt became Baptists. (See Texas State Historical Association site HERE)

None of the above had a particularly rabbit-hole flavour, but wait....Hunt's life circled around controversies, and secret dealings - and not only in his love life. Though not directly involved in politics, he provided wads of financial assistance to those he supported, and was an outspoken opponent of John F. Kennedy. In three of four places online, where H.L. Hunt was being discussed, I noticed mention of the JFK assassination. After all, it did happen in Dallas, so perhaps this wasn't surprising? Wandering deeper into the rabbit-hole I found discussion on the topic and some conspiracy-type theories holding that JFK's assassination involved, among others, a cabal of Texas oilmen including H.L.Hunt, intelligence operatives & anti-Castro Cuban exiles (in other words a cast of thousands!) I don't know how much truth there could be in the theory, and am sure it has been discussed practically non-stop since that November day in 1963, with no clear conclusion ever being reached.

H.L. Hunt's politics were hard right-wing, for sure. He was avidly anti-communist and pro-segregation. According to John Curington, Hunt's right-hand-man during the 1960s, Hunt had a direct line to J. Edgar Hoover's office. Hoover supplied information about Martin Luther King to Hunt who broadcast it in his nationally aired "Lifeline" radio programmes. He portrayed Dr. King as a communist. When the 1964 Civil Rights Act went into effect, it's said that Hunt opened up a "Whites Only" lemonade counter in his downtown building, just to defy the law.

A quick look at Hunt's natal chart, along with a few quotes about his personality - to see how far they match up.

"Hunt was an eccentric. He drove a 1956 Oldsmobile until he died in 1974. He took his lunch to work in a paper bag. He was heavy into right-wing politics."

Eccentricity, in astrology, is always connected to Aquarius and/or Uranus - here we have Sun and Mercury in Aquarius in harmonious trine to Uranus in Libra. That fits like a glove. The ordinariness of driving an old car and taking lunch to work in a paper bag would usually indicate a humble unpretentious nature, but in Hunt it conflicts strongly with the ostentation of his home - so perhaps here we see his rather strait-laced and careful Virgo Moon coming into play against his more eccentric opulent side.

Right-wing politics, anti-communism, pro-segregation reflect the Saturn side of Aquarius. Aquarius has two rulers, Saturn traditionally and Uranus in modern astrology. It's often the case that people with prominent Aquarius fall into two distinct camps politically - far left or far right, reflections of that dual rulership.

The New York Times described HL as an "unconventional renegade who possessed the money to pursue his whims", and the in-fighting of the Hunt family as "entertaining as any soap opera".

More reflection of his Aquarius/Uranus trine.

Hunt established the reputation of treating the people who worked for him well, keeping his word and being loyal to those who had befriended him. I guess we could add "as long as they were not black, not Democrats or socialists and didn't answer back"! Not sure where to pin that attribute astrologically - for I suspect strongly it would have had those provisos attached to it! But to give credit where it's due, Aquarius, and Leo where his Sun's co-ruler Saturn is found, are both Fixed signs. The Fixed signs are thought to be the most loyal of the zodiac (also the most stubborn!) Then again, in his love life Hunt was anything but loyal - he was actually a bigamist! That tends to go against both Aquarius Sun and Virgo Moon. He has no planets in Water signs and there's another close trine aspect between Saturn in Leo and Venus in Aries. Don't know! He's a puzzle, an enigma!

His Aquarius Sun and Mercury would have reflection in a naturally sharp intelligence - not necessarily academic but a kind of intelligence which seems to be built in to the bones. That would have alerted him to opportunities as they appeared - and given insight in how to grasp them. Oilfields were a new enterprise back then, Aquarius/Uranus love to be at the cutting edge of anything new, and seem to have vision enough to understand how to get to that edge.
I didn't go to high school, and I didn't go to grade school either. Education, I think, is for refinement and is probably a liability. (H.L.Hunt)
Sources include:


Education Forum - Nixon/Hunt

Phorum - H. L. Hunt


Chomp said...

Interesting link about a highly problematic issue: (Obama explains the FEMA Camps)

Twilight said...

Chomp ~~~ Well, Rachel has redeemed herself a little with that one, Chomp. She actually dared to point out something detrimental about the President's actions.....not her usual mode of operations.

I'd just spent far too long reading a long string of comment about surveillance and storage of all phone calls and internet communications in the US (and elsewhere). Hmmmm. This plus what's discussed in the link you left makes it seem more and more as though 1984 is here - but 30 years later than expected.