Manly Palmer Hall; Founded Philosophical Research Society


Manly Palmer Hall, an eclectic philosopher and founder of the Philosophical Research Society, has died at 89, the society reported Sunday.

The peripatetic philosopher, who authored more than 200 books and gave more than 8,000 lectures--many of them from a throne-like chair at the society’s Los Angeles headquarters--died in his sleep Wednesday of natural causes, a spokesman said. The death had been kept private for 72 hours at the request of his wife, Marie Hall.

“His wife said the silence had to do with his religious beliefs,” said Daniel Fritz, a trustee of the nonprofit educational society founded in 1934.


“Mr. Hall spent nearly a century watching humanity destroy itself, and it was profound for him to help humanity find its way out of this mess,” Fitz said.

Hall’s biweekly Sunday lectures regularly attracted 200 to 300 people--his most recent delivered just last Sunday--to the society’s cluster of pale pink buildings on a hill overlooking the junction of Los Feliz and Griffith Park boulevards. There, Hall, a 33rd degree Mason, kept one of the nation’s most unusual collections of books and artifacts. Among the 50,000 items on display or secured in a huge vault are a Japanese Buddhist Sutra, written in blood; Babylonian cones and tablets; Chinese oracle bones more than 3,000 years old; an Egyptian papyrus of “The Book of the Dead,” written about 600 BC, and his own “Secret Teachings of All Ages,” which has been in continuous publication since 1928, Fritz said.

The collection reflects the tall, soft-spoken man’s wide-ranging interest in comparative religion, as well as a lifetime of travels to exotic places throughout the world.

But Hall always steered clear of influencing people along a particular line of religious thought.

“It is my contention that the more we know, the better reasons we have for our faith,” he once told a reporter.

“Our purpose, I suppose you might say, is to bring peace on the religious level by broadening the bases of all religions, and thus to advance the cause of world peace, for it seems that religious peace and political peace are akin.”


Fritz said Hall, who was born in Canada and settled in Los Angeles in 1919, spent the last three years of his life laying the groundwork for “home-study university.”

Arrangements are under way for a memorial service at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, Fritz said. Hall is survived by his wife.