Roger Ailes (born as Roger Eugene Ailes), was a man of whom one can say that he lived a fulfilled life.
Born in Warren, Ohio, on May 15, 1940, the seventy-year-old looked back on a life full of interests and accomplishments, including writing a self-help book, rising from assistant to executive producer of a television show, the position of CEO at Fox News, and serving as a political advisor to a number of U.S. presidents, including President Donald Trump.
He was a man who understood the dynamics of the power game, saying that he ignores nothing and that if someone gets in his way, he will get in the way.
Ailes died of a subdural hematoma three days after his seventieth birthday, on May 18, 2017.
Roger Ailes’ Bio
Roger was born as the second of three children of Robert and Donna Ailes. He was diagnosed with hemophilia at a young age and when he was eight years old he was hit by a car and hospitalized. He did not suffer any physical or social limitations as a result when he joined the Warren G. Harding High School drama club and dug trenches during his summer job with the state highway department.
He earned a degree in radio and television at the University of Ohio in Athens, where he also worked as a student station manager.
There he also met and married his first wife Majorie, also in 1960.
After graduating in 1962, Ailes worked as a production assistant on The Mike Douglas Show and eventually rose to the position of Executive Producer.
However, 1968 showed a sharp turn in his career when he was invited by Richard Nixon to join his campaign. In 1969 he started his own company, advising companies and politicians. Roger also diversified into the film, television, and theater productions, and in the mid-1970s, with the support of Obie Award-winning The Hot I Baltimore, he began to reap the fruits of this endeavor.
In 1984, he returned to presidential campaigning and trained Ronald Reagan for his debates with Walter Mondale from the Democratic camp.
In 1988, Roger Ailes was prominently involved in George H. W. Bush’s election campaign, but he returned to television in the early 1990s. He also wrote a book entitled “You Are the Message”: the secrets of the master communicators of the time.
Ailes joined NBC in 1993 to run the CNBC business news network and launched an early version of MSNBC. He resigned before the end of 1995 due to clashes with superiors and shortly thereafter became Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel in October 1996.
Fox News quickly established itself in the industry, largely because Ailes used his influence to attract top talent such as Neil Cavuto of CNBC, Brit Hume, White House correspondent for ABC, and Bill O’Reilly, host of Inside Edition.
On the business side, he understood the need to establish an identity in a dynamic media landscape while offering “a fair and balanced” version of the news. His willingness to take risks in conjunction with the identity created above enabled his network to create and reshape narratives.
After the resignation of Murdoch’s son Lachlan in 2005, he became chairman of Fox Television. Shortly after 2000, he bought a local newspaper in Garrison, New York, and re-established it as a conservative publication. Roger Ailes continued to actively promote his alma mater by providing scholarships for students at the Scripos College of Communication at the University of Ohio.
By 2016, Fox News had a daily audience of 2 million viewers, and Ailes was at the peak of his career. In July of the same year, Ailes’ career and good name were shattered by a scandal when former Fox News anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Several other women approached him with similar complaints in the following days and although he denied the charges, Ailes agreed to a settlement with Fox and announced his resignation on July 21.
Family – Wife, and Son
Roger Ailes was married three times; two of them ended in divorce.
He was married to Marjorie White from 1960 to 1977 when the marriage ended in a brutal divorce. In 1981 he married Norma Ferrer, a long-time admirer of his genius, but after their love story got hot, the marriage broke up and ended in divorce in 1995.
He went there a third time and married Elizabeth Tilson (born 1960) on February 14, 1998. Formerly a senior television executive, she owned and edited the local New York State newspapers, The Putnam County News & Recorder and The Putnam County Courier.
Ailes had a son, Zachary, with Elizabeth.
Roger Ailes’ Net Worth and House
Roger Ailes reportedly accumulated net assets of $100 million and earned a salary of about $20 million a year before he was abruptly dismissed by Fox in 2017 on sexual harassment charges.
The icon and his family lived in Garrison, New York, in 2000, on a plot of land on a hill in a house built of Adirondack River stone across the Hudson River from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Ailes also had residences in Cresskill, New Jersey, and Palm Beach, Florida.
Roger Ailes’ Death
Ailes died on May 18, 2017, in Palm Beach, Florida, after he fell in his house the week before and hit his head. His death was attributed by the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner, just 3 days after his 77th birthday, to a subdural hematoma exacerbated by hemophilia.
Birthday. Elizabeth announced his death in a statement to the Drudge Report and said she was deeply sad and inconsolable that her husband, Roger Ailes, had passed away.
A 2013 book excerpt from Roger Ailes, Off Camera, gave the impression that Ailes was alive and ready to die, saying, “Because of my hemophilia, I have been prepared to face death all my life. When it comes, I am fine, I am calm. But I will miss life. Especially my family”.