Gloria Somborn Daly, daughter of actress Gloria Swanson and for years the operator of the landmark hat-shaped Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles, died of brain cancer Dec. 11 in Carmel. She was 80.
Daly was the child of Swanson and the second of Swanson’s six husbands, movie producer turned restaurateur Herbert Somborn.
Her blonde good looks, which often brought comparisons to her mother, led to offers from Hollywood, but she chose to follow her father into the restaurant business after inheriting most of his estate.
Her father was said to have created the restaurant on a bet with screenwriter Wilson Mizner, who told him, “If you know anything about food, you can sell it out of a hat.”
The distinctive hat-shaped eatery flourished for decades as a popular destination for celebrities and tourists alike until its Wilshire Boulevard location lost its luster in the 1970s.
Daly closed the restaurant in 1980, planning to have the building razed. When local preservationists protested, she donated it to them instead.
Daly lived for many years in New York City, then moved to Pebble Beach, where she volunteered at the Hospice of Carmel and the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula.
She is survived by her husband of 32 years, Wilfrid; three children; two grandchildren; and a sister.
Memorial donations may be made to All Saints Episcopal Day School, 8000 Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel, CA 93923.