Walton Still Tops Forbes List of 400 Richest Americans

Associated Press

There are Du Ponts and Rockefellers, and even a Perdue. But the annual Forbes magazine list of the wealthiest people in America is topped by an Arkansas retailer who is proof that the rich often do get richer.

Sam Moore Walton, 68, founder of the Wal-Mart discount stores, has more money than any other American, according to the annual "Forbes 400." His $4.5 billion is impressive. Last year, when he also topped the list, he had a paltry $2.8 billion.

He's not alone. There were 25 other billionaires, up from 14 last year.

The list, which will appear in the Oct. 27 issue of Forbes, also includes some famous newcomers including a former talk show host, an ageless rock 'n' roll cheerleader, a clothing designer and a chicken king.

Two men tied as the second-richest individuals in America. Both John Kluge of Charlottesville, Va., and H. Ross Perot of Dallas are worth $2.5 billion, according to the magazine. Kluge sold his Metromedia assets to jump from 10th place, while Perot, who sold his holdings in Electronic Data Systems to General Motors in 1984, was runner-up last year.

It took at least $180 million to make this year's list, up from $150 million last year.

Television producer and former talk show host Merv Griffin was listed at $235 million. Dick Clark, also a television producer and host of "American Bandstand," is worth $180 million. Ralph Lauren was listed at $300 million. And Frank Perdue's chicken empire brought him $200 million.

"What was most surprising or exciting was the fact that we had four or five new Hollywood people," said Peter Newcomb, the research supervisor for the Forbes 400 list.

Besides Griffin and Clark, they included television producers Aaron Spelling at $235 million and Mark Goodson at $300 million. Motown Records' Berry Gordy, the second black to make the list, is worth $180 million.

John Harold Johnson, a Chicago publisher, was the first black included in the Forbes 400. He has an estimated net worth of $185 million.

Malcolm Forbes was rich enough to make his fifth annual list, but once again he declined to say how much he's worth. Other publications estimated his worth from $200 million to more than $1 billion. Forbes himself said he is unsure of his own wealth and lets others estimate it because "people would assume that any figure I put down was accurate."

Among the new billionaires on the list are Barbara Cox Anthony and Anne Cox Chambers, whose empire includes the Cox Enterprises group of newspapers and broadcast stations and even extends to the TV program "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."

Media giants accounted for 23 of the Forbes 400, up from 17 last year, but it wasn't the only hot industry. Finance was a big money maker, as was manufacturing, real estate and petroleum.

So were inheritances: 168 inherited substantial parts of their fortunes. There were 174 self-made millionaires, who acquired their wealth without financial help from ancestors.

Over 5% of the list represents Du Pont money, and another 5% is held by the names Mellon and Rockefeller.

There were 56 newcomers to the list, and a like number of dropouts. Among those who didn't make it were cowboy star and California Angels owner Gene Autry, National Enquirer publisher Generoso Pope and Amway Corp. founders Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel.

83 in New York

The average age of the richest rich is 62.3 years. Seventy-seven are women. And there is still a chance to marry great wealth: The list includes 39 unmarried women and 53 unmarried men.

New York is home to 83 of the super rich, while 51 prefer California. Forty-two live in Texas, 22 in Florida, 21 in Illinois, 15 in Pennsylvania and 13 in Delaware.

The oldest is 94-year-old Dorothy Stimson Bullit of Seattle, worth $300 million from broadcasting. The youngest is 25-year-old Michael Currier of New York City, worth an inherited $200 million.

At the top of the list is Walton of Bentonville, Ark., whose fortune grew 60% from last year's estimate of $2.8 billion thanks primarily to the increased value of his stock holdings in Wal-Mart, the magazine said. He opened his first Wal-Mart discount store in 1962 and today has more than 950 stores, mostly in small towns.

"There was a lot more business in those towns than people ever thought," he says.

Liquidating Holdings

Kluge, 72, took control of Metropolitan Broadcasting in 1959. He took the company private in 1984 in a bold $1.2-billion buyout and has been liquidating ever since.

Perot, 56, founded his own company in 1962 and sold it to GM in 1984 for $1.2 billion. He is currently a GM director.

David Packard, the 74-year-old chairman of Hewlett-Packard, was fourth with $2 billion. Warren Edward Buffett, 56, of Omaha, head of Berkshire Hathaway, a diversified holding company, was fifth with about $1.4 billion.

Leslie Herbert Wexner, 49, of Columbus, Ohio, also has a net worth of $1.4 billion, primarily from the Limited clothing stores. And a giant candy empire brought a $4-billion fortune to Forrest Edward Mars Sr. and his two sons.

While the 26 billionaires was a record, Forbes magazine said there would have been more if it wasn't for the 120-point tumble in the Dow Jones average in mid-September. The drop came just before the magazine priced all publicly held stocks to determine the net worth of the 400.

List of Forbes 400, Page 2.

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