Edward Gaylord, billionaire Oklahoma publishing mogul who brought “Hee Haw” and other shows to TV and whose company owns the Grand Ole Opry, died April 26 [?] in Oklahoma City after a battle with cancer. He was 83.
Editor and publisher of the Daily Oklahoman since 1974, he created a multimedia conglomerate steeped in country music. His company’s holdings included country music’s Grand Ole Opry as well as Gaylord Hotels and The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Gaylord Production Co. turned out syndicated programs such as the “Glen Campbell Show” and “Laugh-In”-countrified “Hee Haw.”
In 1983, he purchased Opryland in Nashville, Tenn., for $240 million. Included in the deal were cable TV channels The Nashville Network (TNN), Country Music Television (CMT), the Opryland Hotel, the Opryland Theme Park and the showboat General Jackson. Gaylord Entertainment later sold TNN and CMT for more than $1 billion to CBS Corp.
In 1999, the Columbia Journalism Review called the Daily Oklahoman “The Worst Newspaper in America,” faulting the paper for among other things, bending over backwards to print news favorable to Gaylord’s business ventures, writing stories that supported political causes backed by Gaylord, hiring few minorities and offering prayers on the front page.
But Gaylord was a generous local benefactor, giving $75 million to renovate and expand the U. of Oklahoma’s football stadium and was credited with helping save the state fair from fiscal collapse.
Oklahoma City native attended Stanford University as an undergrad and received a master’s degree from Harvard.
He is survived by four children and their spouses plus a sister.
He was preceded in death by his wife, parents, sister and a grandson.