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The Bingham Family

The Louisville Historical League lists the local and regional influence of the Bingham family and their companies as one of the Top Ten historical events in Louisville in the 20th Century.

Robert Worth Bingham was a Louisville judge, businessman and politician. He bought controlling interest in The Courier-Journal and The Louisville Times in 1918. This single act launched a family media empire that lasted nearly seven decades.

Robert Worth Bingham was a stalwart supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The President later made him the U.S. Ambassador to Britain, at which time his son, Barry Bingham, Sr., stepped in to manage the companies.

When Robert Worth Bingham died in 1937, Barry Bingham, Sr. took sole ownership of the family enterprise. He became editor, publisher and president.

Like his father, Barry was also active in the political arena. He served a year as chief of the Marshall Plan in France and was an advocate for 1956 Presidential campaign of Adlai Stevenson.

In addition to leading the family newspapers, Barry, Sr. founded WHAS-TV in 1950 and the long-running WHAS Crusade for Children telethon. The Bingham companies also included WHAS radio and a printing company Standard Gravure.

When Barry Sr. stepped back from daily operations in 1971, his surviving son, Barry, Jr., took the reigns. Barry Jr. was the last Bingham to control the communications conglomerate.

In 1986, after several years of family infighting, Barry Sr. sold all of the Bingham companies. Gannett Corporation obtained the newspapers, and Clear Channel Communications got the radio stations. This marked the end of nearly 70 years of media ownership.

However, the Binghams have remained a recognizable force in the Louisville community.

Their name graces many public spaces in Louisville (such as The Bingham Theatre at Actors Theatre) and they have been staunch advocates for the arts, as well as many civic and charitable organizations.


  • Robert Worth Bingham received a law degree from the University of Louisville and had his own practice in the city. In 1911, He became known as “Judge Bingham” – when he took an appointment to the Jefferson Circuit Court. He was referred to as “Judge Bingham” for the remainder of his life.
  • Robert Worth Bingham also served as Mayor of Louisville from June to November 1907. He took over for Paul C. Barth, who was removed from office by the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
  • Robert Worth Bingham belonged to the Sons of the American Revolution.
  • In addition to The Courier-Journal and The Louisville Times, Judge Bingham bought 40 acres estate and a Georgian mansion in Glenview, Kentucky. It remains the family estate.
  • Barry Bingham, Sr. (1906-1988) and his wife, Mary (1904-1995), were married for 57 years and had five children: Robert Worth Bingham III (1932-1966), George Barry Bingham, Jr. (1933 - 2006), Sarah "Sallie" Montague Bingham (1937-), Jonathan Worth Bingham (1942-64), and Eleanor Miller Bingham (1946-).
  • According to Wikipedia, Barry Bingham, Sr. was twice awarded the bronze star for his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Bingham was also given the rank of Commandeur, legion d'Honneur, by the French government and he was a Fulbright lecuturere at Oxford University in 1955.
  • According to the New York Times, Barry Bingham, Jr. once worked as a broadcast researcher in the news divisions of CBS and NBC.
  • The Binghams continue to be involved in media and communications. Sallie Bingham, Barry Sr.'s oldest daughter, is a novelist and playwright; his youngest daughter, Eleanor, produces movies and is president of Cumberland Gap Productions, which provides funding and creative assistance to media projects. Barry Jr.'s daughter Molly is a photojournalist (she was the official photographer on Al Gore's 2000 campaign) and filmmaker; his daughter Emily is an independent scholar and author.
  • Many books have been written about The Binghams, who have sometimes been referred to as the "Kennedys of the South".
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"Louisville Life" meets Sullivan University's Olympic veterans, radio personality Kelly K and EDGE Outreach, a group of good Samaritans participating in the recovery effort in Haiti. (#417)