Haroldson Lafayette Hunt was born in Fayette County, Illinois, on 17th February, 1889. After a brief formal education he went travelling. In 1912 he settled in Arkansas, where he ran a cotton plantation.
In 1921 Hunt moved to El Dorado where he became a lease broker. He eventually discovered oil and by 1925 was extremely wealthy. He suffered some business reverses but in 1930 he obtained his own pipeline, the Panola, to run oil from the East Texas field. Two years later Hunt Production Company had 900 wells in East Texas.
Hunt established the Placid Oil Company in 1935. The following year he acquired the Excelsior Refining Company in Rusk County and changed the name to Parade Refining Company. He also established his headquarters in Dallas, Texas. In 1948 a newspaper reported that Hunt was the richest man in the United States. It estimated the value of his oil properties at $263 million and the daily production of crude from his wells at 65,000 barrels.
Hunt developed extreme conservative political opinions. In 1951 he launched the Douglas MacArthur for President campaign. Along with two of his sons, Nelson Bunker Hunt and Lamar Hunt, he set-up a right-wing intelligence network, the International Committee for the Defence of Christian Culture.
Hunt also funded two right-wing radio shows, Facts Forum and Life Line. He used these radio stations to support the anti-communist campaign of Joseph McCarthy. He also helped to finance the political career of Lyndon B. Johnson. A member of the John Birch Society, Hunt was a close friend of Edwin Walker.
A strong opponent of Fidel Castro, Hunt helped to fund the Cuban Revolutionary Council, a group that worked with the Mafia and the Central Intelligence Agency in an effort to remove Castro from power.
President John F. Kennedy became concerned about people like Hunt who used tax exemptions to spread right-wing propaganda. According to Joachim Joesten Hunt had an annual income of $30,000,000 but paid little in income tax. In 1963 Kennedy talked about plans to submit to Congress a tax reform plan designed to produce about $185,000,000 in additional revenues by changes in the favourable tax treatment until then accorded the gas-oil industry.
Some conspiracy theorists believe that Hunt was involved in the death of President John F. Kennedy. It was claimed that the day before the assassination, Jim Brading visited Hunt in his office in Dallas. Brading had links to Carlos Marcello, another figure suspected of being involved in the killing. Brading was arrested in the Dal-Tex building in the Dealey Plaza soon after the assassination took place, but was released soon afterwards.
Madeleine Brown later gave an interview on the television show, A Current Affair where she claimed that on the 21st November, 1963, she was at the home of Clint Murchison. Others at the meeting included Hunt, J. Edgar Hoover, Clyde Tolson, John J. McCloy and Richard Nixon. At the end of the evening Lyndon B. Johnson arrived. Brown said in this interview: "Tension filled the room upon his arrival. The group immediately went behind closed doors. A short time later Lyndon, anxious and red-faced, reappeared. I knew how secretly Lyndon operated. Therefore I said nothing... not even that I was happy to see him. Squeezing my hand so hard, it felt crushed from the pressure, he spoke with a grating whisper, a quiet growl, into my ear, not a love message, but one I'll always remember: "After tomorrow those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me again - that's no threat - that's a promise."
Brown's account was supported by former CIA agent Robert D. Morrow who wrote in the book, First Hand Knowledge: How I participated in the CIA-Murder of President Kennedy, "On the eve of the assassination, Hoover and Nixon attended a meeting together at the Dallas home of oil baron Clint Murchison. Among the subjects discussed at this meeting were the political futures of Hoover and Nixon in the event President Kennedy was assassinated."
Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, who was married three times and fathered 14 children, died on November 29, 1974.