Gordon McLendon was a Texan radio pioneer, who perfected the “Top 40” in the 1950s-60s, and who developed offshore pirate broadcasting in Scandinavia and the British Isles. A brilliant student, who chose to study at Yale because both Harvard and Princeton had offered him a scholarship, and who became editor of the Yale Literary Magazine, he fought in WWII and served as a Naval Intelligence officer. After starting to attend Harvard Law School, he quit to buy an interest in a radio station.
McLendon and his father founded the radio station KLIF in 1947, which they sold for a record-price in 1971. By 1979 the family had sold all its empire, including 14 radio and 2 television stations, and Forbes Magazine estimated his net worth at $200 million in 1985. In 1959, McLendon had co-produced two cult classic sci-fi monster B-films, and was at one time the largest shareholder in Columbia Pictures. McLendon also wrote several books, including “Get Really Rich in the Coming Super Metals Boom” (1981).
His life was eclectic, first marrying the daughter of a Louisiana governor (1943) and then an actress (1973), being a friend of both Presidents Nixon and Hoover but also co-owner of the pirate station Radio Nord, a board member of the Dallas Highland Park Methodist Church and of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Christie’s sold his numismatic collection in New York, on 12 June 1993. Though he isn’t very well known by the public, McLendon was an important enough collector for Bruce McNall to comment – in a chapter about Bunker Hunt – that “some [coins] were being held for another big client, Gordon McLendon”.
- Ronald Garay, Gordon McLendon. The Maverick of Radio, Wesport CT 1992; Bruce McNall, Fun while it lasted, New York 2003.
- Hadrien Rambach, “Provenance glossary”, in Numismatica Ars Classica, Auction 91: the George W. La Borde collection of Roman aurei – part I, Zurich, 23 May 2016, pp. -.
- Hadrien Rambach, “Provenance glossary”, in Numismatica Ars Classica, Auction 99: the George W. La Borde collection of Roman aurei – part II, Zurich, 29 May 2017, pp. 47-63.
- Hadrien Rambach, “Provenance glossary”, in Numismatica Ars Classica, Auction 105: the George W. La Borde collection of Roman aurei – part III, Zurich, 9 May 2018, pp. 82-105.
This article was first published in a catalogue of auction house Numismatica Ars Classica.