Harry Morton, the founder of the Pink Taco restaurants, was the son of the man who founded the Hard Rock Cafe chain. His grandfather was a famous Chicago restaurateur who was tied to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy enterprise.
Harry’s mother was a model and socialite. His brother found his body, and his half-sister was a high-profile bounty hunter who died of a drug overdose.
It’s a colorful family tree for the 38-year-old Morton, who was found dead at a home he owned in the Los Angeles area on November 24, 2019. The cause of death is not yet clear. The Beverly Hills Police Department said that foul play is not suspected, according to Fox News.
The Richest estimates his net worth was around $300 million. He poured some of that wealth into the Pink Taco restaurant chain that he founded in Los Angeles.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Harry Morton’s Grandfather Ran Playboy Clubs & Founded a Famous Chicago Restaurant Chain
The family’s restaurant roots started in Chicago with Harry’s grandfather. According to the Richest, Harry’s grandfather was the famous Chicago restaurateur Arnie Morton. He founded Morton’s Restaurant Group.
Celebrity Net Worth reports that Arnie Morton, from Chicago, was tied to Hugh Hefner, developed Playboy Clubs, and then founded the Morton Steakhouse Chain, which he sold in 1987 for $13 million.
Arnie Morton died in 2005. His Associated Press obituary reported that he “helped launch the first Playboy Club and the annual Taste of Chicago food festival.”
“He’s a restaurant legend,” said Grant DePorter, president of Harry Caray’s Restaurant in Chicago, to the AP. “A lot of restaurateurs in the Chicago area started with Arnie.”
2. Harry Morton’s Father, Peter Morton, Built a Fortune With the Hard Rock Cafe Chain
Morton’s family owns The Ivy and Morton’s, which are two of LA’s most prestigious restaurants. According to the Guardian, Harry’s dad Peter Morton got his start in London with a hotel and catering degree from the University of Denver. The year was 1971.
Peter Morton has a net worth of around $800 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
"I was passing through London, and I noticed there wasn't any American food," Peter told the Guardian. He decided to start the first Hard Rock Cafe in Piccadilly. "This was before McDonald's or Burger King had arrived," Morton told Guardian. "Market vacuum. It's the same with any business. Cement. Anything." His family had been in the restaurant industry for 80 years with roots in Chicago, the publication reports.
Guardian described one Oscars' bash at Morton's by reporting that "every major movie star, director, and producer will be there, with a sprinkling of icons from the worlds of music, sport and politics. It is the only party where Robert De Niro has a drink with Rupert Murdoch, where Bono can gets the chance to toast Spielberg, and Julia Roberts comes within air-kissing distance of Bill Clinton."
Harry followed in his father's footsteps, starting the Pink Taco chain when he was only 18 years old. According to Entertainment Tonight, Pink Taco has locations in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Las Vegas.
Harry told Haute Living of his dad, “My dad always said that value is the most important thing. If you deliver based on what you’re charging, it’s worth it. To be part of something that’s really successful, every last piece has to be checked and managed and massaged and thought out. Success is going above and beyond and to constantly keep evolving.”
“We are saddened by the passing of Harry Morton, the founder and former owner of Pink Taco,” the Pink Taco chain said in a statement, according to CBS Los Angeles. “Harry was a visionary and restaurateur ahead of his time, and his contributions, both professionally to our brand and personally to those he worked with, were numerous. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Harry Morton used to own one of Los Angeles’s most infamous establishments: the famous Viper Room nightclub where River Phoenix died. He told Haute Living of that purchase, “When I acquired the Viper Room, it was a neglected child that needed some polishing. Now we’re focusing on getting it back to what it was in its heyday. Our focus now is sexy rock. We went back and focused on what the authentic Viper Room was, and that’s paid off.”
3. Harry Morton’s Mother, Paulene Stone, Was a Model & Socialite
According to TMZ, Harry Morton’s mother was Paulene Stone. His parents are divorced. The Guardian calls Stone a “socialite and Sixties model.” The New York Times described Paulene Stone as a “Vogue Model.”
Paulene was described by Publishing Business as a “fashion model and three-time Vogue cover girl, she rose to fame during the 1960s, rubbing shoulders with many glittering names of the day and creating some of the decade’s most enduring images.”
Her mother was a dressmaker, and her father was a commercial artist. She was also married to the actor Laurence Harvey. She’s been married four times, according to Publishing Business, which reports that she also has a daughter Sophie from a first marriage to the founder of the Take 6 fashion-chain, Tony Norris.
4. Harry’s Half Sister Domino Died of a Drug Overdose & a Movie Was Made of Her Life
Harry’s half-sister, described by TMZ as “model/bounty hunter” Domino Harvey, died of a drug overdose in 2005. Domino Harvey was the daughter of Paulene Stone and the actor Laurence Harvey, who died only 11 months after her parents married in 1972, Publishing Business reports.
Domino’s life was featured in a movie starring Keira Knightley. According to IMDB, Domino Harvey “was found unresponsive in a bathtub in her Los Angeles home, June 27, 2005,” accidentally overdosing on Fentanyl. She was accused by federal authorities of a methamphetamine dealing conspiracy.
Heidi Gibbs, Peter Morton’s sister, told the New York Times of Harvey’s bounty hunter career: “She loved finding people no one else could find. She didn’t have any fears or any boundaries or any fear of authority. She was missing that thing that stops most people in the world from doing things. And she loved her guns.”
5. Harry’s Brother Matthew Reportedly Found His Body
Entertainment Tonight is reporting, through sources, that Morton was discovered by his younger brother, Matthew. Matthew Morton is one of two children that Peter Morton had with his ex-wife Tarlton, who died in 2017 after a series of legal battles and drug addiction.
According to TMZ, he was found unresponsive in his Beverly Hills home.
CBS Los Angeles reported that Morton was pronounced dead at 5:28 p.m. Saturday, and a coroner’s spokesperson said of the cause of death: “The autopsy and report are incomplete at this time, and will probably be completed in a couple of days.”
Morton dated Lindsay Lohan around 2005 for a couple of months, ending up in tabloid headlines. “Best friends. Best life,” Lohan captioned an Instagram tribute to Morton that showed him with her. TMZ reports that they dated for only about three months, however.
He also dated Paris Hilton and Britney Spears through the years, according to ET. TMZ reports that Morton never married. He also dated Demi Moore, Jennifer Aniston and Hayden Panettiere.