Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
William Randolph Hearst
Hearst's father was a multi-millionaire miner and U.S. Senator from California named George Hearst. His mother was Phoebe Hearst, a school teacher from Missouri. At the age of ten Hearst toured Europe with his mother. He was enrolled in St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire at the age of 16.
William studied at Harvard University (1882–1885), but was expelled for sending faculty members chamber pots with the recipient's picture adorning the inside bottom. He then took over the San Francisco Examiner in 1887 (at age 23) which his father, George Hearst, accepted as payment for a gambling debt. He nicknamed the newspaper "The Monarch of the Dailies" and acquired the best equipment and the most talented writers possible. Hearst then went on to publish exposes of corruption and stories filled with drama and inspiration.
In 1895, William Hearst purchased the unsuccessful New York Morning Journal, hiring writers like Stephen Crane and Julian Hawthorne and entering into a head-to-head circulation war with his former mentor, Joseph Pulitzer, owner of the New York World, from whom he 'stole' Richard F. Outcault, the inventor of color comics. The New York Journal (later New York Journal-American) reduced its price to one cent and attained unprecedented levels of circulation through sensational and dishonest articles on subjects like crime and pseudoscience; the paper's bellicosity in foreign affairs was notorious — on the Cuban Insurrection, for example. Both Hearst and Pulitzer published images of Spanish troops placing Cubans into reconcentration camps where they suffered and died from disease and hunger. The term yellow journalism, which was derived from the name of "The Yellow Kid" comic strip in the Journal, was used to refer to the style of sensationalized newspaper articles that emerged from this competition.
By the mid-1920s Hearst had created or acquired newspapers in every part of the United States. His national chain of newspapers and periodicals included the Chicago Examiner , Boston American , Cosmopolitan, and Harper's Bazaar, in addition to his own news agency, The International News Service. He also published fiction and produced motion pictures.
In the 1920s Hearst built a spectacular castle on a 240,000 acre (970 km2) ranch at San Simeon, California, which he furnished with antiques and art objects purchased in Europe. There he lived with his mistress, the actress Marion Davies. (Millicent Willson, his wife, from whom he was long separated, lived in New York City, where she was one of society's grandest dames, an active philanthropist, and, in 1921, the founder of the Free Milk Fund for Babies .)
At the height of his fortune William Randolph Hearst owned some 28 major newspapers and 18 magazines, as well as news services, radio stations and movie companies. But the Great Depression weakened his financial position and by 1940 he had lost personal control of his vast communications empire.
Hearst was believed by many to have initiated the Spanish-American War of 1898 to encourage sales of his newspaper. His own political career suffered after the assassination of President William McKinley when a satirical poem by Ambrose Bierce he had published a few months earlier alluding to a possible McKinley assassination was unearthed.
In 1903, William married Millicent Veronica Willson (1882–1974), a beautiful 22-year-old chorus girl, in New York City. Nearly 20 years her senior, Hearst had been seeing her since she was 16. The couple had five sons: George Randolph Hearst (1904–1972), William Randolph Hearst Jr. (1908–1993), John Randolph Hearst (1910–1958), and twins Randolph Apperson Hearst (1915–2000) and David Whitmire Hearst (1915–1986). Though the couple stayed married until Hearst's death — they separated in 1926 — he was devoted to the popular movie actress and comedienne Marion Davies (née Marion Cecilia Douras, 1897–1961), his mistress for more than thirty years.
A member of the United States House of Representatives (1903–1907), he failed in attempts to obtain the mayorship of New York City (1905 and 1909) and the post of governor of New York (1906), being defeated for the governorship by Charles Evans Hughes. An opponent of the British Empire, Hearst opposed United States involvement in the First World War and attacked the formation of the League of Nations.
Hearst upset the left-wing in America by being a pro-Nazi in the 1930s (for example by entertaining, in 1933, Mussolini's mistress Margherita Sarfatti during her tour of the US) and a staunch anti-Communist in the 1940s. Hearst was far from the only non-German industrialist to find Nazism attractive. Eugene Schueller, the founder of French cosmetics giant L'Oréal, was also an open adherent during the same period as Ford. Charles Lindbergh, car maker Henry Ford, and head of the Du Pont trust Irénée Du Pont, were also admirers of Hitler. Recent evidence uncovered by author Louis Pizzitola seems to indicate that Hearst attended the Nuremberg rally.
He also, according to hemp-industry proponents, was instrumental in publicizing and orchestrating a 1937 oil-and-timber-industry-led media campaign      to discredit hemp (an inexpensive petroleum and paper substitute) and marijuana, which led within months to the drug and the plant being outlawed in the United States. Hearst himself reputedly profited due to his interests in the pulp-and-paper business.
The Hearst myth
The life of Hearst was depicted in a thinly disguised portrait in Orson Welles' epic film Citizen Kane. Hearst was aware of this film's production and he used all his resources and influence in his attempt to halt it and prevent its release at least partially because he felt it insulted Marion Davies, by fictionalising her as a talentless drunken singer. RKO 281 is a pseudo-historical film about this attempt. Welles and the studio producing the film, RKO, resisted the pressure, but the fight dampened the film's release, produced poor box office numbers and profoundly harmed Orson Welles' career. However, in the long run, Hearst's efforts were in vain considering that after his death, Citizen Kane's reputation rose to be considered one of the greatest films of all time, and his connection to it is now inseparable from Hearst's reputation.
On November 19, 1924, silent film producer Thomas Harper Ince ("The Father of the Western") died of a heart attack while on a weekend boat trip with Hearst, Davies, and several other prominent Hollywood personalities. Rumours that Hearst shot Ince and used his power to cover up the truth circulated. A 2001 film, The Cat's Meow , tells a tale based around these rumours. However, the general opinion seems to be that such a cover-up is highly unlikely.
In 1974 Hearst's granddaughter, Patty Hearst, became notorious after she was kidnapped by a left wing group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army. She subsequently joined the organization and became involved in criminal activities that eventually led to her arrest and conviction for bank robbery.
- William Randolph Hearst biography
- San Simeon, or the Hearst Castle
- American Corporate Support for Nazis
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