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William Randolph Hearst (April 29, 1863 – August 14, 1951) was an Americanmarker newspaper magnate and leading newspaper publisher.

Hearst was born in San Franciscomarker, Californiamarker, to millionaire mining engineer George Hearst and Phoebe Apperson Hearst. Following preparation at St. Paul's Schoolmarker in Concordmarker, New Hampshiremarker, he enrolled in the Harvard Collegemarker class of 1885, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Alpha chapter), the A.D. Club (a prestigious Harvard Final club), and of the Harvard Lampoonmarker prior to his expulsion from Harvard for presenting several of his professors expensive chamber pots with their names elaborately painted on the inside.

Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887 after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father. Moving to New York Citymarker, he acquired The New York Journal and engaged in a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer's New York World which led to the creation of yellow journalism — sensationalized stories of dubious veracity. Acquiring more newspapers, Hearst created a chain that numbered nearly 30 papers in major American cities at its peak. He later expanded to magazines, creating the largest newspaper and magazine business in the world.

He was twice elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives, but ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909, for Governor of New York in 1906, and for Lieutenant Governor of New York in 1910. Nonetheless, through his newspapers and magazines, he exercised enormous political influence, and is sometimes credited with pushing public opinion in the United States into a war with Spain in 1898. He was also a prominent leader of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party from 1896 to 1935, although he became more conservative later in life.

His life story was a source of inspiration for the lead character in Orson Welles' classic film Citizen Kane. His palatial estate, Hearst Castlemarker, near San Simeonmarker, Californiamarker, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Oceanmarker, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, was donated by the Hearst Corporation to the state of Californiamarker in 1957, and is now a State Historical Monument and a National Historic Landmark, open for public tours. Hearst formally named the estate La Cuesta Encantada ('The Enchanted Slope'), but he usually just called it 'the ranch'.

Publishing business

An ad asking automakers to place ads in Hearst chain, noting their circulation.
for an occupation, in 1887 he took over management of a newspaper which his father had purchased in 1880, the San Francisco Examiner. Giving his paper a grand motto, "Monarch of the Dailies", he acquired the best equipment and the most talented writers of the time, including Mark Twain and Jack London. A self-proclaimed populist, Hearst went on to publish stories of municipal and financial corruption, often attacking companies in which his own family held an interest. Within a few years, his paper dominated the San Francisco market.

New York Morning Journal

In 1896, with the financial support of his mother, he bought the failing New York Morning Journal, hiring writers like Stephen Crane and Julian Hawthorne and entering into a head-to-head circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer, owner and publisher of the New York World, from whom he 'stole' Richard F. Outcault, the inventor of color comics, and all of Pulitzer's Sunday staff as well. His was the only major newspaper in the East to support William Jennings Bryan and Bimetallism in 1896. Subsequently, the price of the Journal (later New York Journal-American) was reduced to one cent; this, coupled with the newspaper's eye-catching headlines and sensational stories on subjects like crime and pseudoscience (a style pejoratively referred to as yellow journalism—see below) allowed the newspaper to attain unprecedented levels of circulation.

Expansion

In part to aid in his political ambitions, Hearst opened newspapers in some other cities, among them Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. The creation of his Chicago paper was requested by the Democratic National Committee and Hearst used this as an excuse for Phoebe Hearst to transfer him the necessary start-up funds. By the mid-1920s he had a nation-wide string of 28 newspapers, among them the Los Angeles Examiner, the Boston American, the Atlanta Georgian, the Chicago Examiner, the Detroit Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Washington Times, the Washington Herald, and his flagship the San Francisco Examiner.

Hearst also diversified his publishing interests into book publishing and magazines; several of the latter still appear, including such periodicals as Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Town and Country and Harper's Bazaar.


In 1924 he opened the New York Daily Mirror, a racy tabloid frankly imitating the New York Daily News. Among his other holdings were the magazines Cosmopolitan, and Harper's Bazaar; two news services, Universal News and International News Service (along with INS companion radio station WINSmarker in New York); King Features Syndicate; a film company, Cosmopolitan Productions; extensive New York City real estate; and thousands of acres of land in California and Mexico, along with timber and mining interests.

Hearst promoted writers and cartoonists despite the lack of any apparent demand for them by his readers. The press critic A. J. Liebling reminds us how many Hearst stars would not be deemed employable elsewhere. One Hearst favorite, George Herriman, was the inventor of the dizzy comic strip Krazy Kat; not especially popular with either readers or editors, it is now considered by many to be a classic, a belief once held only by Hearst himself.

Two months before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, he became one of the sponsors of the first round-the-world voyage in an airship, the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin. His sponsorship was conditional on the trip starting at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, NJmarker, so the ship's captain, Dr. Hugo Eckener, first flew the Graf across the Atlantic from Germany to pick up Hearst's photographer and at least three Hearst correspondents. One of them, Grace Marguerite Hay Drummond-Hay, by that flight became the first woman to travel around the world by air.

The Hearst news empire reached a circulation and revenue peak about 1928, but the economic collapse of the Great Depression and the vast over-extension of his empire cost him control of his holdings. It is unlikely that the newspapers ever paid their own way; mining, ranching and forestry provided whatever dividends the Hearst Corporation paid out. When the collapse came, all Hearst properties were hit hard, but none more so than the papers; adding to the burden were the Chief's now-conservative politics, increasingly at odds with those of his readers. Having been refused the right to sell another round of bonds to unsuspecting investors, the shaky empire tottered. Unable to service its existing debts, Hearst Corporation faced a court-mandated reorganization in 1937. From this point, Hearst was just another employee, subject to the directives of an outside manager. Newspapers and other properties were liquidated, the film company shut down; there was even a well-publicized sale of art and antiquities. While World War II restored circulation and advertising revenues, his great days were over. Hearst died of a heart attack in 1951, aged eighty-eight, in Beverly Hillsmarker, Californiamarker, and is buried at Cypress Lawn Memorial Parkmarker in Colmamarker, Californiamarker.

The Hearst Corporation continues to this day as a large, privately held media conglomerate based in New York City.

Involvement in politics

A Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives (1903–1907), he narrowly failed in attempts to become mayor of New York City (1905 and 1909) and governor of New York (1906), nominally remaining a Democrat while also creating the Independence Party. He was defeated for the governorship by Charles Evans Hughes.

His defeat in the New York City mayoral election, in which he ran under a short-lived third party of his own creation (the Municipal Ownership League) is widely attributed to Tammany Hall. Tammany, the dominant Democratic organization in New York City at the time (and a widely corrupt one), was said to have used every dirty trick in the book to derail Hearst's campaign. He also sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1904, but found that his support for William Jennings Bryan in previous years was not reciprocated. The conservative wing of the party was ascendant and nominated Judge Alton B. Parker instead. An opponent of the British Empire, Hearst opposed American involvement in the First World War and attacked the formation of the League of Nations. Hearst's last bid for office came in 1922 when he was backed by Tammany Hall leaders for the U.S. Senate nomination in New York. Al Smith vetoed this, earning the lasting enmity of Hearst. Although Hearst shared Smith's opposition to Prohibition he swung his papers behind Herbert Hoover in the 1928 presidential election. Hearst's support for Franklin D. Roosevelt at the 1932 Democratic National Convention, via his allies William Gibbs McAdoo and John Nance Garner, can also be seen as part of his vendetta against Smith, who was an opponent of Roosevelt's at that convention.

Hearst's reputation triumphed in the 1930s as his political views changed. In 1932, he was a major supporter of Roosevelt. His newspapers energetically supported the New Deal throughout 1933 and 1934. Hearst broke with FDR in spring 1935 when the President vetoed the Patman Bonus Bill. Hearst papers carried the old publisher's rambling, vitriolic, all-capital-letters editorials, but he no longer employed the energetic reporters, editorialists and columnists who might have made a serious attack. His newspaper audience was the same working class that Roosevelt swept by three-to-one margins in the 1936 election. In 1934 after checking with Jewish leaders to make sure the visit would prove of benefit to Jews, Hearst visited Berlin to interview Adolf Hitler. Hitler asked why he was so misunderstood by the American press. "Because Americans believe in democracy," Hearst answered bluntly, "and are averse to dictatorship."

His vision on the Holocaust

Hearst described Kristallnacht as “making the flag of National Socialism a symbol of national savagery” and advocated the creation of a "homeland for dispossessed or persecuted Jews.” When news of the Holocaust began to seep out of occupied Europe, Hearst covered it as important news, in contrast to other newspapers which downplayed the mass murders.

Personal life

Millicent Hearst
In 1903, William married Millicent Veronica Willson (1882–1974), a 21-year-old chorus girl, in New York Citymarker. Evidence in Louis Pizzitola's book Hearst Over Hollywood indicates that Millicent's mother Hannah Willson ran a Tammany-connected and -protected brothel quite near the headquarters of political power in New York City at the turn of the last century. Millicent bore him twin sons, David and Randolph, on December 2, 1915.

Marion Davies

Marion Davies
Conceding an end to his political hopes, Hearst became involved in an affair with popular film actress and comedienne Marion Davies (1897–1961), and from about 1919, he lived openly with her in California. The affair dominated Davies' life. Millicent separated from her husband in the mid-1920s after tiring of his longtime affair with Davies, but the couple remained legally married until Hearst's death. Millicent built an independent life for herself in New York City as a leading philanthropist, was active in society, and created the Free Milk Fund for the poor in 1921. After the death of Patricia Lake, Davies' supposed niece, it was speculated that Lake was in fact Hearst's daughter by Davies.

California property

Beginning in 1919, Hearst began to build the never-completed Hearst Castlemarker, on a 240,000-acre (97,000 ha) ranch at San Simeonmarker, Californiamarker, which he furnished with art, antiques and entire rooms brought from the great houses of Europe.

Hearst later paid $120,000 for an H-shaped Beverly Hills mansion in 1947, now perhaps the "most expensive" private home in the U.S., valued at $165 million (£81.4 million). It has 29 bedrooms, three swimming pools, tennis courts, its own cinema and a nightclub. Lawyer and investor Leonard Ross has owned it since 1976. The Beverly House, as it has come to be known, has some interesting cinematic connections. According to Hearst Over Hollywood, Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy stayed at the house for part of their honeymoon, watching their first film together as a married couple in the mansion's theater (a Hearst-produced film from the 1920s). Later, long after Hearst's death, the house was the setting for a gruesome scene in the film The Godfather, depicting a horse's severed head in the bed of a film-producer, Jack Woltz, head of a film company called International, the name of Hearst's early film company. San Simeon was also used in Spartacus as the estate of Marcus Licinius Crassus (played by Laurence Olivier).

Hearst's mother also owned the Hacienda del Pozo de Verona at Pleasanton, California, now demolished. He also had a property on the McCloud River in Siskiyou Countymarker, in far northern California, called Wyntoon. Wyntoon was designed by famed architect Julia Morgan who also designed Hearst Castlemarker.

Art collection

St. Donat's Castle

After seeing photographs of St. Donat's Castlemarker in Country Life magazine, the Welsh Vale of Glamorganmarker property was bought and revitalized by Hearst in 1925 as a love gift to Davies. The Castle was restored by Hearst who spent a fortune buying entire rooms from castles and palaces in Europe. The Great Hall was bought from the Bradenstoke Priory in Wiltshiremarker and reconstructed brick by brick in its current site at St. Donat's Castle. From the Bradenstoke Priory he also bought and removed the guest house, Prior's lodging, and great tithe barn; of these, some of the materials became the St. Donat's banqueting hall, complete with a sixteenth century French chimneypiece and windows; also used were a fireplace dated to c. 1514 and a fourteenth century roof, which became part of the Bradenstoke Hall, despite this use being questioned in Parliament. Hearst built 34 green and white marble bathrooms for the many guest suites in the castle, and completed a series of terraced gardens which survive intact today. Hearst and Davies spent much of their time entertaining, holding lavish parties, the guests at which included Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Winston Churchill and a young John F. Kennedy. Upon visiting St. Donat's, George Bernard Shaw was quoted as saying: "This is what God would have built if he had had the money." When Hearst died, the castle was bought and is still owned and used by Atlantic Collegemarker, an international boarding school.

The Family Club

Through the rise of Hearst's yellow journalism, he was blamed by many for the Spanish-American War. His dubious stories were what many believed to be the spark of the fighting. Once a decorated member of the Bohemian Club, Hearst branched off to form his own private club, The Family. The Family keeps a clubhouse in San Francisco and a rural retreat in Woodsidemarker, Californiamarker.

Praise and criticism

Yellow journalism

As Martin Lee and Norman Solomon noted in their 1990 book Unreliable Sources, Hearst "routinely invented sensational stories, faked interviews, ran phony pictures and distorted real events." This approach came to be known as yellow journalism, named after the Yellow Kid, a character in the New York Journal's color comic strip Hogan's Alley.

Hearst's use of yellow journalism techniques in his New York Journal to whip up popular support for U.S. military adventurism in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in 1898 was also criticized in Upton Sinclair's 1919 book, The Brass Check: A Study of American Journalism. According to Sinclair, Hearst's newspaper employees were "willing by deliberate and shameful lies, made out of whole cloth, to stir nations to enmity and drive them to murderous war." Sinclair also asserted that in the early 20th century Hearst's newspapers lied "remorselessly about radicals," excluded "the word Socialist from their columns" and obeyed "a standing order in all Hearst offices that American Socialism shall never be mentioned favorably." In addition, Sinclair charged that Hearst's "Universal News Bureau" re-wrote the news of the London morning papers in the Hearst office in New York and then fraudulently sent it out to American afternoon newspapers under the by-lines of imaginary names of non-existent "Hearst correspondents" in London, Paris, Venice, Rome, Berlin, etc.

War on marijuana

Hearst sympathized with Harry J. Anslinger in his war against marijuana. Between 1936 and 1937, Hearst associated marijuana with hemp in his newspapers and published many of the stories that Anslinger fabricated. Hearst played a major part in aiding the anti-marijuana movement, leading to its prohibition in the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, a law which also effectively outlawed hemp.

Jack Herer and others argue that Hearst's paper empire (he owned hundreds of acres of timber forests and a vast number of paper mills designed to manufacture paper from wood pulp) in the early 1930s was threatened by hemp, which: 1) like wood pulp, could also be used to manufacture paper and 2) also had an advantage over wood pulp, because it could be regrown yearly as well.

Other commentators have subsequently pointed out that the Hearst chain was one of the biggest buyers of newsprint in the U.S. As buyers of newsprint, the Hearst chain had a strong interest in a low price for newsprint. If anyone could produce large amounts of cheap newsprint from a new crop it would lower Hearst's purchasing cost for newsprint. These commentators conclude that Hearst had no relevant financial interest in a ban on hemp cultivation.

Land misuse

Hearst was criticized in John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath because he did not use his vast, fertile land for farming.

In fiction

Citizen Kane

One of the most influential films of all time was Orson Welles' 1941 film Citizen Kane, which was loosely based on Hearst's life (Welles and co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz added bits and pieces from the lives of other rich men of the time, among them Harold McCormick, Samuel Insull and Howard Hughes, into Kane). Hearst used all his resources and influence in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the film's release. Welles and the studio, RKO, resisted the pressure, but Hearst and his Hollywood friends succeeded in getting theater chains to limit bookings of Kane, resulting in mediocre box-office numbers and harming Welles' career.

Nearly sixty years later, HBO offered a fictionalized version of Hearst's efforts in its picture RKO 281.

Citizen Kane was twice ranked #1 on the list of the American Film Institute's 100 greatest films of all time (1998 & 2007)—Hearst's own image has largely been shaped by the film. The film paints a dark portrait of Hearst.

Other works



  • In Gabriel Over the White House (1933), the U.S. president in the movie is "loosely based on" Hearst. Hearst himself was one of the producers of the movie and he wrote some of the speeches made by the character of the president.
  • In the Family Guy episode "420", Brian explains Hearst's campaign to criminalize marijuana in order to prevent hemp from replacing paper as a alternative for producing newspapers.


See also



References

  1. The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Thirteenth edition, Advanced Placement Edition, copyright 2006
  2. The Battle Over Citizen Kane, PBS
  3. The King Is Dead - TIME
  4. Time magazine: Los Angeles to Lakehurst, 1929-09-09
  5. American's End - TIME
  6. Jerusalem Post, April 22, 2009, Rafael Medoff, Hearst and the Holocaust
  7. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6290160.stm BBC News, "Most expensive" U.S. home on sale
  8. [1]
  9. Marijuana Timeline
  10. Reefer Madness!: William Randolf Hearst Essay
  11. Debunking the Hemp Conspiracy Theory


Further reading

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External links




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