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William Randolph Hearst




William Randolph Hearst was born on April 29, 1863, in San Francisco, California, as the only child of George Hearst, a self-made multimillionaire miner and rancher, and Phoebe Apperson Hearst. In 1887, at 23 he became "Proprietor" of the San Francisco Examiner which his father, George Hearst, accepted as payment for a gambling debt... In 1903, Mr. Hearst married Millicent Willson in New York City. The couple had five sons together during their marriage: George, William Randolph Jr., John and twins Randolph and David. Hearst died in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Aug. 14, 1951, at age 88. He is interred at the Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, California.

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Hearst By Jeff Wierichs
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951)

Inspired by the journalism of Joseph Pulitzer, Hearst turned the newspaper into a combination of reformist investigative reporting and lurid sensationalism. He soon developed a reputation for employing the best journalists available. This included Ambrose Bierce, Stephen Crane, Mark Twain, Richard Harding Davis and Jack London. Hearst was a member of the United States House of Representatives (1903-07) In the 1920s Hearst built a castle on a 240,000 acre ranch at San Simeon, California. At his peak he owned 28 major newspapers and 18 magazines, along with several radio stations and movie companies. The Great Depression weakened his financial position and by 1940 he had lost personal control of his vast communications empire. Hearst upset the left-wing in America by being a pro-Nazi in the 1930s and a staunch anti-Communist in the 1940s. William Randolph Hearst @

He studied at Harvard, then took over the San Francisco Examiner in 1887 from his father. He acquired the New York Morning Journal (1895), and launched the Evening Journal in 1896. He sensationalized journalism by the introduction of banner headlines and lavish illustrations. Believed by many to have initiated the Spanish--American War of 1898 to encourage sales of his newspaper, he also advocated political assassination in an editorial just months before the assassination of President McKinley. His national chain of newspapers and periodicals grew to include the Chicago Examiner , Boston American , Cosmopolitan , and Harper's Bazaar . His life inspired the Orson Welles film Citizen Kane

"Yellow Journalism"

Though the term was originally coined to describe the journalistic practices of Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst proved himself worthy of the title. Today, it is his name that is synonymous with "yellow journalism." The Sensational Beginnings of Yellow Journalism

... where "yellow journalism" got its start. In a classic example of the power of ownership, Hearst responded to illustrator Frederic Remington's request to return from a Havana that was quiet, "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." --Spanish--American War of 1898

When an explosion sank the Maine and killed hundreds of sailors in the Havana Harbor on 15 February 1898, journalists, including those from the Journal, recommended caution in speculating the cause of the disaster. Hearst had other ideas. When he learned of the explosion, he called the Journal city desk and asked the editor on duty what other stories were to be played on the front page. When the editor replied “just the other big news,” Hearst exploded that there was no other big news and the sinking of the Maine meant war. Two days later the Journal was banging the war drum with such headlines as “War? Sure!” Coverage of the Spanish-American War, soon to become the Journal’s war, established a template for the next century of how journalists were to cover significant events. After thirty-five years of this type of journalism, newsmen and women at competing papers were amused when Hearst issued a bulletin in 1933 that established editorial guidelines for his newsrooms across the country: - Introduction, Red Ink, White Lies: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles Newspapers 1920-1962 by Rob Wagner, Robert Leicester Wagner [amazon]

Ernest L. Meyer wrote: "Mr. Hearst in his long and not laudable career has inflamed Americans against Spaniards, Americans against Japanese, Americans against Filipinos, Americans against Russians, and in the pursuit of his incendiary campaign he has printed downright lies, forged documents, faked atrocity stories, inflammatory editorials, sensational cartoons and photographs and other devices by which he abetted his jingoistic ends." --Chapter 17: Farewell: Lord of San Simeon, Lords of the Press, George Seldes


Marion Davies
History often remembers Marion only for her association with magnate William Randolph Hearst, their story is truly one of America's greatest love stories of all time. --The Marion Davies Home Page

Marion Davies, born Marion Cecilea Douras on January 3, 1897, ... When Marion moved to California, she had already met William Randolph Hearst. They lived together at San Simeon, a very elaborate mansion, nicknamed Hearst's Castle, which stands as a California landmark today. At San Simeon, they threw very elaborate formal parties and LOTS of costume parties. Guests included Carole Lombard, mary Pickford, Sonja Henie, Dolores Del Rio, basically all of Hollywood. Also other people like the Mayor of New York City and Charles Lindbergh. ... She went through alot, even getting polio in the 1940's. She got cancer of the jaw, which is what finally killed her. -- Biography for Marion Davies @imdb

The rumor mill ...

[Thomas] Ince died in November 1924, while celebrating his forty-third birthday aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht. The abruptness of his death and his stature in the industry generated a series of sensational rumors. The most enduring is that Hearst caught his mistress, Marion Davies, kissing Charlie Chaplin and shot at him, accidentally hitting and killing Ince. The small party on board--including Louella Parsons, who later made a deal with Hearst for a syndicated gossip column--was sworn to secrecy --Hollywood Haunted - excerpts / from Angel City Press

William Randolf Hearst hated minorities, and he used his chain of newspapers to aggravate racial tensions at every opportunity. Hearst especially hated Mexicans. Hearst papers portrayed Mexicans as lazy, degenerate, and violent, and as marijuana smokers a nd job stealers. The real motive behind this prejudice may well have been that Hearst had lost 800,000 acres of prime timberland to the rebel Pancho Villa, suggesting that Hearst's racism was fueled by Mexican threat to his empire. -- William Randolf Hearst and Lammont Dupont , HALL OF CONSPIRACY

The morning papers would headline "Movie producer shot on Hearst yacht!". The evening papers would not carry that headline and the rival Hearst paper would print the next day that Ince died of acute indigestion. The mysterious bullet, if there was one, in Ince may have been meant for Charles Chaplin, who was allegedly carrying on with Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies --Biography for Thomas H. Ince

Citizen Kane

It was a clash of the titans. William Randolph Hearst, the lord and ruler of San Simeon. And Orson Welles, the ambitious young man with a golden touch, who set out to dethrone him. It was a fight from which neither man ever fully recovered. Long before Orson Welles' Citizen Kane was released in 1941, there was a buzz about the movie and the "boy genius" who made it. At a preview screening, nearly everyone present realized that they had seen a work of brilliance--except Hedda Hopper, the leading gossip columnist of the day. She hated the movie, calling it "a vicious and irresponsible attack on a great man." Citizen Kane was a brutal portrait of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. When Hearst learned through Hopper of Welles' film, he set out to protect his reputation by shutting the film down. Hollywood executives, led by Louis B. Mayer, rallied around Hearst, attempting to buy Citizen Kane in order to burn the negative. At the same time, Hearst's defenders moved to intimidate exhibitors into refusing to show the movie. Threats of blackmail, smears in the newspapers, and FBI investigations were used in the effort. - The Battle over Citizen Kane []

Citizen Kane (1941) []- Considered by many as the best film ever made, this is the story of Charles Foster Kane. The film opens with a long shot of Xanadu - the private estate of one of the world's richest men. In the middle of the estate is a castle. We see, inside the castle, a dying man examining a winter scene within a crystal ball. As he drops it, it smashes, and one word is heard - "Rosebud"... What follows are pieces of newsreel like footage detailing how Kane amassed his fortune, and turning around full circle at the end.


  • The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst by David Nasaw, [Barnesandnoble & amazon]
  • The Times We Had : Life With William Randolph Hearst by Marion Davies [amazon]
Your readers may be interested in a new book by Louis Pizzitola called, Hearst Over Hollywood : Passion, Power, and Propaganda in the Movies (Columbia University Press 2002). [amazon] Hearst Over Hollywood, which the Pittsburgh Post Gazette calls one of the best nonfiction titles of 2002 and the SF Chronicle calls "groundbreaking," is the first book to explore Hearst's long and deep involvement in the film industry. Visit for reviews and more about the book. - Yellowfilm
Hearst Castle

La Cuesta Encantada - Hearst's 127 acre estate located on the California coast, North of Cambria. It took nearly 28 years to build it's 165 rooms. Today Hearst Castle is a State Historical Monument, run by the state Park Service

Working closely with Julia Morgan and an army of craftsmen and laborers, Hearst created a truly unique and impressive structure to serve as the social and architectural focus of the hilltop. Excavation for Casa Grande began in 1922 though the building was not ready for full-time occupancy until 1927. Additions to the main building continued until 1947. Eventually the 130-room building contained everything from underground storage vaults to elegant bedrooms located high in the bell towers. -- History

Hearst Castle Part 1: Introduction and Tours
San Simeon Hearst Castle Tour and Ticket Information

News is something somebody doesn't want printed; all else is advertising.
--William Randolph Hearst

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