William Randolph Hearst Sr (William Randolph Hearst)

William Randolph Hearst Sr

William Randolph Hearst Sr

American journalist, patron of the arts and media magnate, best known as the founder of the Hearst Corporation and builder of Hearst Castle, at San Simeon, California.  William Randolph Hearst was born on April 29, 1863 in San Francisco, California, the only child of George and Phoebe Hearst.  His father’s vast fortune was built in some of the greatest gold and silver mines in United States history, so young William had the opportunity to see and experience the world as few do.  At the age of ten Hearst and his mother toured Europe, gathering ideas and inspiration from the grandeur and scale of castles, art and history. This experience laid the foundation for Hearst’s lifelong appreciation of the arts and fueled his aspiration to recreate this majesty for his own enjoyment. Back in the United States, Hearst completed his primary schooling and then enrolled in St. Paul’s Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire at the age of 16. He continued his education at Harvard where he excelled in journalism, acted as the business manager of the “Harvard Lampoon” and even served as an apprentice under Joseph Pulitzer while there. His election to the “Hasty Pudding” theatrical group at Harvard revealed his talent and interest in drama.  Hearst’s journalistic career got an unplanned boost when his father took ownership of a local newspaper, the “San Francisco Examiner” to settle a gambling debt.  Still at Harvard, William wrote his father, demanding to be given a chance to run the paper. On March 7, 1887, young Hearst became the owner of the Examiner and set out to make the paper a popular one. He publicly nicknamed the small paper “The Monarch of the Dailies”, and went about obtaining some of the best equipment and staff available, modeling his newspaper after the Pulitzer style of sensationalism. The Examiner was immediately successful under Hearst’s leadership, so much so that in 1895, Hearst was able to purchase “The New York Morning Journal,” becoming a direct competitor to his former mentor, Joseph Pulitzer.  The Journal would become the second in a long list of newspaper holdings that Hearst acquired in the next decade of his life. At his peak he owned over two dozen newspapers nationwide; in fact, at one time nearly one in four Americans got their news from a Hearst paper. The story that fired the imagination of Hearst the most was the Cuban Revolution of 1895. He saw this as a key opportunity to promote his papers, and he spent a large amount of effort supporting Cuba Librè, the Cuban insurgent forces. After the mysterious explosion of the U.S.S. Maine, in Havana Harbor, Hearst’s actions are thought by many to have seriously influenced events leading to the war with Spain. In 1903, Mr. Hearst married Millicent Wilson in New York City. Their honeymoon drive across the European continent inspired Mr. Hearst to launch his first magazine, “Motor,” which became the foundation for another publishing endeavor that is currently known as Hearst Magazines. The couple had five sons together during their marriage: George, William Randolph Jr., John and twins Randolph and David. Hearst’s interest in politics got him elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Congressman from New York in 1902. After reelection in 1904, he unsuccessfully pursued the New York Governorship in 1906. Following his short political career, Hearst continued his endeavors in publishing and communications. In the 1920’s he started one of the first print-media companies to enter radio broadcasting and in the 1940’s he was an early pioneer of television. Mr. Hearst was a major producer of movie newsreels with his company Hearst Metrotone News, and is widely credited with creating the comic strip syndication business. His King Features Syndicate today is the largest distributor of comics and text features in the world. In his career, William Hearst produced over 100 films including, “The Perils of Pauline,” “The Exploits of Elaine” and “The Mysteries of Myra.” In addition to his successful business endeavors, Mr. Hearst amassed a vast and impressive art collection that included classical paintings, tapestries, religious textiles, oriental rugs, antiquities, sculptures, silver, furniture and antique ceilings. Much of this collection found its home at Hearst Castle and Hearst’s various other properties, while the remainder filled warehouses on both the East and West Coasts. Throughout his life, Hearst dreamed of building a dwelling similar to those he had seen on his European tour as a boy. Hearst Castle was to become the realization of this dream as he and architect Julia Morgan collaborated for 28 years to construct a castle worthy of those he saw in Europe. During construction Hearst used the Castle as his primary residence and it was here that he continually entertained the elite of Hollywood, politics and sports. Hearst left his San Simeon estate in 1947 to seek medical care unavailable in the remote location. While the Castle was never completely finished, it stands as the remarkable achievement of one man’s dream. William Randolph Hearst died on August 14, 1951, in Beverly Hills, California at the age of 88. He was interred in the Hearst family mausoleum at the Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, California. All of his sons followed their father into the media business and his namesake, William Randolph, Jr., became a Pulitzer Prize-winning Hearst newspaper reporter. Today Mr. Hearst’s grandson, George R. Hearst, Jr., is chairman of the board of The Hearst Corporation.  (bio by: Edward Parsons)  Family links:  Parents:  George Hearst (1820 – 1891)  Phoebe Elizabeth Apperson Hearst (1842 – 1919)  Spouse:  Millicent Veronica Willson Hearst (1882 – 1974)  Children:  George Randolph Hearst (1904 – 1972)*  William Randolph Hearst (1907 – 1993)*  John Randolph Hearst (1909 – 1958)*  Randolph Apperson Hearst (1915 – 2000)*  David Whitmire Hearst (1915 – 1986)* *Calculated relationship

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  • April, 29, 1863
  • San Francisco, California


  • August, 08, 1951

Cause of Death

  • Heart attack


  • Cypress Lawn Memorial Park
  • Beverly Hills, California

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