William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst

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Publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) built his media empire after inheriting the San Francisco Examiner from his father. He challenged New York World publisher Joseph Pulitzer by buying the rival New York Journal, earning attention for his “yellow journalism.” Hearst entered politics at the turn of the century, winning two terms to the U.S. House of Representatives but failing in his bids to become U.S. president and mayor of New York City. He lost much of his holdings during the Great Depression and fell out of touch with his blue-collar audience, but still headed the largest news conglomerate in America at the time of his death.

George Hearst, a mining millionaire and U.S. senator from California, gave his only son the San Francisco Examiner in 1887 in hopes that he would settle down. The young man, who had been expelled from Harvard University for raucous behavior, had worked briefly for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. In the next decade Hearst spent more than $8 million of his family’s money making the San Francisco paper a success. He then challenged Pulitzer by buying the New York Journal. In their battle over Richard Outcault’s comic strip "The Yellow Kid" (the first to be printed in color), these publishers acquired the epithet "the yellow press," referring to their sensationalism.

Hearst’s papers catered to urban working people, many of whom were recent immigrants. His papers favored labor unions, progressive taxation, and municipal ownership of utilities. They featured abundant pictures, advice to the lovelorn columns, and sentimental stories. Favoring Irish and German readers in particular, the papers condemned British influence and spread fears about the ‘yellow peril’ of Asian immigration.

In 1898, Hearst championed the Cuban rebels and welcomed the U.S. declaration of war against Spain. At the height of the crisis more than a million copies of the Journal were sold each day. Hearst ordered a reporter to scuttle a ship in the Suez Canal to stop the Spanish fleet and waded ashore in Cuba to accept the surrender of a group of Spaniards. In Hearst’s mind, a publisher and a president had equal right to act for the nation.

He wanted personally to lead the Democratic party to the White House, but the radicalism of his papers was a liability. They had endorsed political assassination as a "mental exercise" and printed a poem by Ambrose Bierce that joked about the death of the president. When William McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist in 1901, Hearst was blamed. Nevertheless, he was twice elected to the House of Representatives from New York City and won 40 percent of the votes for the presidential nomination on one ballot at the Democratic National Convention in 1904. He lost contests to become mayor of New York and governor of the state by narrow margins.

Had Hearst died at about the age of 50, he would have been remembered as a man who transformed a fortune based on natural resources into an information and entertainment empire. He owned seven dailies, five magazines, two news services, and a film company. His obituary would have called him an important American on the left. In 1903 the trade unions of Los Angeles asked Hearst to begin a paper there so that workers would have a voice. He was praised by many socialists, including Upton Sinclair who compared him to Abraham Lincoln.

But Hearst ultimately failed both as an entrepreneur and as a leader. He had rarely been an innovator in publishing, and others now beat him at his own game with more pictures, livelier writing, and more appealing politics. He lost touch with his blue-collar readers, denouncing the New Deal and mounting quixotic assaults on communists. He had overexpanded in the 1920s and spent recklessly on art and real estate. By 1937 he had lost control of his holdings. He sold part of his art collection and stopped construction on his fabled San Simeon estate in California. Of the 42 papers he had bought or established, 17 remained by 1940.

At the end of his life, Hearst still headed the largest news conglomerate in America, but this was a measure of his capital, not of his business acumen or the quality of his journalism. The 1941 film "Citizen Kane" suggests that Hearst was the victim of psychological trauma, had suffered for his abuses of power, and had outlived his time. The historical record supports only the last observation.

The Reader’s Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Copyright © 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Hearst Communications

Hearst Communications, Inc., often referred to simply as Hearst, is an American multinational mass media and business information conglomerate based in the Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. [3]

Hearst owns newspapers, magazines, television channels, and television stations, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, Cosmopolitan and Esquire. It owns 50% of the A&E Networks cable network group and 20% of the sports cable network group ESPN, both in partnership with The Walt Disney Company. [4]

The conglomerate also owns several business-information companies, including Fitch Ratings and First Databank. [5]

The company was founded by William Randolph Hearst as an owner of newspapers, and the Hearst family remains involved in its ownership and management.

William Randolph Hearst

Elected twice to the U.S. House of Representatives from the city of New York, Hearst failed to win that state's governorship in 1906, running as a Democrat. Some Americans saw Hearst as a self-appointed wind-bag without much in the way of either scruples or substance (witness the cartoon by Art Young). Whatever the case, Hearst, by commanding the attention of a mass audience, was a force in the Democratic party. Initially he advocated the nomination of Champ Clark, which in a way was a move to block Wilson. Eventually, however, the newspaper magnate relented some reporters thought it was Bryan who eventually brought him and other Democratic publishers into the Wilson fold.

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Personal life

In 1903, the day before his fortieth birthday, he married twenty-one-year-old Millicent Willson, a showgirl, thus giving up Tessie Powers, a waitress he had supported since his Harvard days. The Hearsts had five boys, but in 1917 Hearst fell in love with another showgirl, twenty-year-old Marion Davies of the Ziegfeld Follies. He maintained a relationship with her that ended only at his death.

When Hearst's mother died, he came into his inheritance and took up permanent residence on his father's 168,000-acre ranch in southern California. There he spent $37 million on a private castle, put $50 million into New York City real estate, and put another $50 million into his art collection—the largest ever assembled by a single individual.

The notorious history of drunken Hollywood

By the early 1930s, Herman J. Mankiewicz was a screenwriting genius who had secretly helped construct classic films such as “Monkey Business” and “Duck Soup” by the Marx Brothers and “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Of All the Gin Joints:
Stumbling Through Hollywood History”
by Mark Bailey illustrated by Edward Hemingway
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)

He was also, according to a new book by author Mark Bailey, a raging drunk who picked fights everywhere he went and insulted everyone from studio execs to actors in his films.

Mankiewicz had once been friends with newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst and attended many a party at San Simeon, the publisher’s infamous mansion. The relationship ended, however, when Hearst banned Mankiewicz after the screenwriter kept trying to get Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies, drunk.

Mankiewicz sought revenge. He began writing a script about a newspaper mogul and used everything he knew about Hearst to humiliate him, including basing one character on Davies in a harshly negative portrait and even appropriating what he knew to be Hearst’s special nickname for Davies’ clitoris: Rosebud.

The script, of course, was “Citizen Kane,” which would become a cinematic landmark and win Mankiewicz an Oscar.

Hearst, though, got his own revenge several years later. After Mankiewicz crashed into another car while drunk — a non-story, since no one was hurt — it became front-page news in all of Hearst’s newspapers, destroying the writer’s reputation.

An alcohol siege

Throughout Hollywood’s history, booze has been as prevalent and influential as ego. “Of All the Gin Joints” gleefully dishes many of the wildest tales of excess, sharing stories of insane incidents and outsized drunken personalities.

Raymond Chandler was fired from his job as an oil industry executive at 44 due to his overenthusiastic alcohol consumption. From there, he became a top-notch fiction writer, which led to a contract with Paramount.

Chandler in 1943 Getty Images

But Chandler never lost his love for drink. Before writing “The Blue Dahlia” — which needed to be written, filmed and completed in just three months — Chandler assured producer John Houseman he was sober.

In the middle of production, though, he told Houseman he’d been felled by writer’s block and could only complete the script in a “continuous alcohol siege.”

He drank nonstop and ate no solid food for the next eight days, as Paramount “provided a doctor to inject glucose into his arm twice daily.” He finished the script on time and was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar. It was later revealed that the whole thing had been a ruse to fool Houseman. He had never stopped drinking and used the writer’s block story to gain leverage.

Bela and boilermakers

Hollywood’s massive alcohol consumption also led to violent behavior.

For his directorial debut, 1955’s “Not as a Stranger,” A-list producer Stanley Kramer made the mistake of casting “four of the most fearless drunks in the business” — Lon Chaney Jr., Broderick Crawford, Robert Mitchum and Frank Sinatra.

Stanley Kramer said filming 1955’s “Not as a Stranger” with, from left, Lon Chaney Jr., Robert Mitchum, Broderick Crawford and Frank Sinatra was “10 weeks of hell.” Getty Images

Kramer would later refer to the film as “10 weeks of hell.”

“They quickly proved uncontrollable,” Bailey writes. “Sets and trailers were demolished. Stars [tore] phones from walls. ‘It wasn’t a cast,’ Mitchum said, ‘so much as a brewery.’ ”

Perhaps the worst, and most surprising, turn of events came when Crawford, who had previously played the “mentally handicapped” Lenny in “Of Mice and Men” on Broadway, found Sinatra teasing him one too many times, as Ol’ Blue Eyes liked to mock him by calling him “Lenny.”

Crawford “held the singer down, tore off his toupeé, and proceeded to eat the damn thing.” Mitchum tried to separate the two but Crawford lashed out at him, and then they fought until Crawford, his throat filled with toupee hair, began to choke and “one of the film’s medical advisers had to rush over to help him puke it up.”

Bela Lugosi, here in the title role of the 1931 film “Dracula,” was a drunk and morphine addict. Getty Images

Bailey describes horror star Bela Lugosi as, toward the end of his life, a morphine addict and a terrible drunk. During one of their films together, director Ed Wood went to bring him his requested scotch and found him hiding behind a curtain.

When Lugosi emerged, there were “tears streaming down his face” and a gun in his hand, pointed straight at Wood.

“Eddie, I’m going to die tonight,” he said. “I want to take you with me.”

Wood — a fellow drunk — realized what it would take to appease the now-out-of-his-mind actor: Boilermakers, Lugosi’s favorite drink.

Lugosi put the gun down and drank himself to sleep.

‘The Tracy squad’

During the filming of “The Night of the Iguana,” Richard Burton — whose drinking biographer Robert Sellers called “one of the wonders of the 20th century” — would start with beer at 7 a.m., finish off a case, then switch to hard liquor. His wife, Elizabeth Taylor, would have begun drinking at 10 a.m., starting with vodka before shifting to tequila. Burton was so in need of constant booze, he forced the production to build a bar at both the top and the bottom of a staircase he needed to climb to get to the set.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in 1963 Getty Images

Once sloshed, the couple went at it like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” was a documentary.

“When Taylor paraded around set in ever-more-revealing bikinis, Burton would comment that she looked like a tart,” writes Bailey. Once, when Taylor was trying to help fix his hair, Burton grew so agitated that “he poured an entire beer over his head and asked, ‘How do I look now, by God?’ ”

Spencer Tracy, one of the most dashing leading men of Hollywood’s golden age, was also secretly “a self-flagellating, self-immolating, utterly filthy drunk,” writes Bailey, who says that Tracy would hole up at the Hotel St. George in Brooklyn Heights for weeks-long binges, during which he was “downing bottle after bottle of whiskey while sitting naked in a bathtub,” never rising “even to use the toilet.”

Spencer Tracy in 1931 Everest Collection

Tracy was perceived as such a possible danger that MGM, which had him under contract, assembled “the Tracy Squad: an ambulance driver, a doctor and four security guards dressed as paramedics” who were on call 24/7.

Every bar within 25 miles had been given a dedicated phone number, with instructions to call if Tracy ever entered. Once that happened, the squad rushed to the scene, where, sure enough, Tracy would have by then caused some sort of drunken trouble. He was then whisked to his home, under the guise of medical care, where the squad stood guard until he sobered up.

Liquorous ladies

The men of old Hollywood had no monopoly on drunken behavior, as young starlets of the time could make Lindsay Lohan seem like a rank amateur.

Clara Bow, a Brooklyn teenager whose “mother was insane” and whose father was “a lecherous hanger-on,” was the first to be christened an “It” girl after her most popular film, 1927’s “It.”

With her fame came license to shock the world, as Bow, who loved “drinking, gambling, swearing and screwing,” was “so licentious she could shock even jaded old-Hollywood types.”

B.P. Schulberg, the president of Paramount, held a fancy dinner and invited Judge Ben Lindsey, who had recently lost his judgeship after publicly advocating for premarital sex. The judge, in a new career, was there to interview Bow for Vanity Fair. But when she arrived, soused, she introduced herself to the judge “with a French kiss” — never mind that his wife was right beside him — and then “wrangled him into a dance,” during which “she deftly unbuttoned his shirt, then, arriving at his pants, she didn’t hesitate and began to unzip them, too.”

Natalie Wood only agreed to have a threesome with Dennis Hopper and Nick Adams if she could bathe in champagne first. Getty Images

The judge jumped back, and Schulberg quickly removed Bow. Later, she expressed confusion at all the fuss. “If he likes all that modern stuff,” she said, “how come he’s such an old stick-in-the-mud?”

Natalie Wood, writes Bailey, was a wild child who was already drinking wine with Sinatra at age 15.

A few years later, she found herself with her “Rebel Without a Cause” co-stars Dennis Hopper and Nick Adams. They decided to have a threesome, but Wood would only participate if she could “bathe in champagne first — like Jean Harlow.”

Hopper and Adams bought several cases of champagne and poured it all into the bathtub. Once full, Wood disrobed and submerged herself, ready for her new sexual adventure — until she began screaming.

“As soon as her most sensitive areas came in contact with the alcohol, she shrieked in pain,” Bailey writes. “Thus was the orgy extinguished.”


W. Joseph Campbell describes yellow press newspapers as having daily multi-column front-page headlines covering a variety of topics, such as sports and scandal, using bold layouts (with large illustrations and perhaps color), heavy reliance on unnamed sources, and unabashed self-promotion. The term was extensively used to describe certain major New York City newspapers around 1900 as they battled for circulation. [4] One aspect of yellow journalism was a surge in sensationalized crime reporting to boost sales and excite public opinion. [5]

Frank Luther Mott identifies yellow journalism based on five characteristics: [6]

  1. scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
  2. lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
  3. use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
  4. emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips
  5. dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.

Etymology and early usage

The term was coined in the mid-1890s to characterize the sensational journalism in the circulation war between Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal. The battle peaked from 1895 to about 1898, and historical usage often refers specifically to this period. Both papers were accused by critics of sensationalizing the news in order to drive up circulation, although the newspapers did serious reporting as well. An English magazine in 1898 noted, "All American journalism is not 'yellow', though all strictly 'up-to-date' yellow journalism is American!" [7]

The term was coined by Erwin Wardman, the editor of the New York Press. Wardman was the first to publish the term but there is evidence that expressions such as "yellow journalism" and "school of yellow kid journalism" were already used by newsmen of that time. Wardman never defined the term exactly. Possibly it was a mutation from earlier slander where Wardman twisted "new journalism" into "nude journalism". [8] Wardman had also used the expression "yellow kid journalism" [8] referring to the then-popular comic strip which was published by both Pulitzer and Hearst during a circulation war. [9] In 1898 the paper simply elaborated: "We called them Yellow because they are Yellow." [8]

Hearst in San Francisco, Pulitzer in New York

Joseph Pulitzer purchased the New York World in 1883 after making the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the dominant daily in that city. Pulitzer strove to make the New York World an entertaining read, and filled his paper with pictures, games and contests that drew in new readers. Crime stories filled many of the pages, with headlines like "Was He a Suicide?" and "Screaming for Mercy." [10] In addition, Pulitzer only charged readers two cents per issue but gave readers eight and sometimes 12 pages of information (the only other two-cent paper in the city never exceeded four pages). [11]

While there were many sensational stories in the New York World, they were by no means the only pieces, or even the dominant ones. Pulitzer believed that newspapers were public institutions with a duty to improve society, and he put the World in the service of social reform.

Just two years after Pulitzer took it over, the World became the highest-circulation newspaper in New York, aided in part by its strong ties to the Democratic Party. [12] Older publishers, envious of Pulitzer's success, began criticizing the World, harping on its crime stories and stunts while ignoring its more serious reporting — trends which influenced the popular perception of yellow journalism. Charles Dana, editor of the New York Sun, attacked The World and said Pulitzer was "deficient in judgment and in staying power." [13]

Pulitzer's approach made an impression on William Randolph Hearst, a mining heir who acquired the San Francisco Examiner from his father in 1887. Hearst read the World while studying at Harvard University and resolved to make the Examiner as bright as Pulitzer's paper. [14]

Under his leadership, the Examiner devoted 24 percent of its space to crime, presenting the stories as morality plays, and sprinkled adultery and "nudity" (by 19th-century standards) on the front page. [15] A month after Hearst took over the paper, the Examiner ran this headline about a hotel fire: HUNGRY, FRANTIC FLAMES. They Leap Madly Upon the Splendid Pleasure Palace by the Bay of Monterey, Encircling Del Monte in Their Ravenous Embrace From Pinnacle to Foundation. Leaping Higher, Higher, Higher, With Desperate Desire. Running Madly Riotous Through Cornice, Archway and Facade. Rushing in Upon the Trembling Guests with Savage Fury. Appalled and Panic-Stricken the Breathless Fugitives Gaze Upon the Scene of Terror. The Magnificent Hotel and Its Rich Adornments Now a Smoldering heap of Ashes. The Examiner Sends a Special Train to Monterey to Gather Full Details of the Terrible Disaster. Arrival of the Unfortunate Victims on the Morning's Train — A History of Hotel del Monte — The Plans for Rebuilding the Celebrated Hostelry — Particulars and Supposed Origin of the Fire. [16]

Hearst could be hyperbolic in his crime coverage one of his early pieces, regarding a "band of murderers," attacked the police for forcing Examiner reporters to do their work for them. But while indulging in these stunts, the Examiner also increased its space for international news, and sent reporters out to uncover municipal corruption and inefficiency.

In one well remembered story, Examiner reporter Winifred Black was admitted into a San Francisco hospital and discovered that indigent women were treated with "gross cruelty." The entire hospital staff was fired the morning the piece appeared. [17]

Competition in New York

With the success of the Examiner established by the early 1890s, Hearst began looking for a New York newspaper to purchase, and acquired the New York Journal in 1895, a penny paper which Pulitzer's brother Albert had sold to a Cincinnati publisher the year before.

Metropolitan newspapers started going after department store advertising in the 1890s, and discovered the larger the circulation base, the better. This drove Hearst following Pulitzer's earlier strategy, he kept the Journal's price at one cent (compared to The World's two-cent price) while providing as much information as rival newspapers. [11] The approach worked, and as the Journal's circulation jumped to 150,000, Pulitzer cut his price to a penny, hoping to drive his young competitor (who was subsidized by his family's fortune) into bankruptcy.

In a counterattack, Hearst raided the staff of the World in 1896. While most sources say that Hearst simply offered more money, Pulitzer — who had grown increasingly abusive to his employees — had become an extremely difficult man to work for, and many World employees were willing to jump for the sake of getting away from him. [18]

Although the competition between the World and the Journal was fierce, the papers were temperamentally alike. Both were Democratic, both were sympathetic to labor and immigrants (a sharp contrast to publishers like the New York Tribune's Whitelaw Reid, who blamed their poverty on moral defects [13] ), and both invested enormous resources in their Sunday publications, which functioned like weekly magazines, going beyond the normal scope of daily journalism. [19]

Their Sunday entertainment features included the first color comic strip pages, and some theorize that the term yellow journalism originated there, while as noted above, the New York Press left the term it invented undefined. Hogan's Alley, a comic strip revolving around a bald child in a yellow nightshirt (nicknamed The Yellow Kid), became exceptionally popular when cartoonist Richard F. Outcault began drawing it in the World in early 1896. When Hearst predictably hired Outcault away, Pulitzer asked artist George Luks to continue the strip with his characters, giving the city two Yellow Kids. [20] The use of "yellow journalism" as a synonym for over-the-top sensationalism in the U.S. apparently started with more serious newspapers commenting on the excesses of "the Yellow Kid papers."

In 1890, Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis published "The Right to Privacy", [21] considered the most influential of all law review articles, as a critical response to sensational forms of journalism, which they saw as an unprecedented threat to individual privacy. The article is widely considered to have led to the recognition of new common law privacy rights of action.

Pulitzer and Hearst are often adduced as a primary cause of the United States' entry into the Spanish–American War due to sensationalist stories or exaggerations of the terrible conditions in Cuba. [22] However, the majority of Americans did not live in New York City, and the decision-makers who did live there probably relied more on staid newspapers like the Times, The Sun, or the Post. James Creelman wrote an anecdote in his memoir that artist Frederic Remington telegrammed Hearst to tell him all was quiet in Cuba and "There will be no war." Creelman claimed Hearst responded "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." Hearst denied the veracity of the story, and no one has found any evidence of the telegrams existing. [23] [24] Historian Emily Erickson states:

Serious historians have dismissed the telegram story as unlikely. . The hubris contained in this supposed telegram, however, does reflect the spirit of unabashed self-promotion that was a hallmark of the yellow press and of Hearst in particular. [25]

Hearst became a war hawk after a rebellion broke out in Cuba in 1895. Stories of Cuban virtue and Spanish brutality soon dominated his front page. While the accounts were of dubious accuracy, the newspaper readers of the 19th century did not expect, or necessarily want, his stories to be pure nonfiction. Historian Michael Robertson has said that "Newspaper reporters and readers of the 1890s were much less concerned with distinguishing among fact-based reporting, opinion and literature." [26]

Pulitzer, though lacking Hearst's resources, kept the story on his front page. The yellow press covered the revolution extensively and often inaccurately, but conditions on Cuba were horrific enough. The island was in a terrible economic depression, and Spanish general Valeriano Weyler, sent to crush the rebellion, herded Cuban peasants into concentration camps, leading hundreds of Cubans to their deaths. Having clamored for a fight for two years, Hearst took credit for the conflict when it came: A week after the United States declared war on Spain, he ran "How do you like the Journal's war?" on his front page. [27] In fact, President William McKinley never read the Journal, nor newspapers like the Tribune and the New York Evening Post. Moreover, journalism historians have noted that yellow journalism was largely confined to New York City, and that newspapers in the rest of the country did not follow their lead. The Journal and the World were pitched to Democrats in New York City and were not among the top ten sources of news in regional papers their seldom made headlines outside New York City. Piero Gleijeses looked at 41 major newspapers and finds:

Eight of the papers in my sample advocated war or measures that would lead to war before the Maine blew up twelve joined the pro-war ranks in the wake of the explosion thirteen strongly opposed the war until hostilities began. The borders between the groups are fluid. For example, the Wall Street Journal and Dun’s Review opposed the war, but their opposition was muted. The New York Herald, the New York Commercial Advertiser and the Chicago Times-Herald came out in favour of war in March, but with such extreme reluctance that it is misleading to include them in the pro-war ranks. [28]

War came because public opinion was sickened by the bloodshed, and because leaders like McKinley realized that Spain had lost control of Cuba. [29] These factors weighed more on the president's mind than the melodramas in the New York Journal. [30] Nick Kapur says that McKinley's actions were based more on his values of arbitrationism, pacifism, humanitarianism, and manly self-restraint, than on external pressures. [31]

When the invasion began, Hearst sailed directly to Cuba as a war correspondent, providing sober and accurate accounts of the fighting. [32] Creelman later praised the work of the reporters for exposing the horrors of Spanish misrule, arguing, "no true history of the war . can be written without an acknowledgment that whatever of justice and freedom and progress was accomplished by the Spanish–American War was due to the enterprise and tenacity of yellow journalists, many of whom lie in unremembered graves." [33]

After the war

Hearst was a leading Democrat who promoted William Jennings Bryan for president in 1896 and 1900. He later ran for mayor and governor and even sought the presidential nomination, but lost much of his personal prestige when outrage exploded in 1901 after columnist Ambrose Bierce and editor Arthur Brisbane published separate columns months apart that suggested the assassination of William McKinley. When McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901, critics accused Hearst's Yellow Journalism of driving Leon Czolgosz to the deed. It was later presumed that Hearst did not know of Bierce's column, and he claimed to have pulled Brisbane's after it ran in a first edition, but the incident would haunt him for the rest of his life, and all but destroyed his presidential ambitions. [34]

When later asked about Hearst's reaction to the incident, Bierce reportedly said, “I have never mentioned the matter to him, and he never mentioned it to me.” [35]

Pulitzer, haunted by his "yellow sins," [36] returned the World to its crusading roots as the new century dawned. By the time of his death in 1911, the World was a widely respected publication, and would remain a leading progressive paper until its demise in 1931. Its name lived on in the Scripps-Howard New York World-Telegram, and then later the New York World-Telegram and Sun in 1950, and finally was last used by the New York World-Journal-Tribune from September 1966 to May 1967. At that point, only one broadsheet newspaper was left in New York City.

William Randolph Hearst - HISTORY

The Hearst Building History

Located at the corner of Third and Market Streets in San Francisco, the Hearst Building is part of the colorful California history that stretches back to the gold rush days. It witnessed developments by its ownership that changed the way newspapers were read and politicians of the day were viewed. Today it is a landmark building that has retained its unique and beautiful architectural features designed by famous architects of their time, but with modernized operating systems.

George Hearst, William Randolph Hearst’s father, made his fortune in mining. George had been a successful prospector, using his skills to identify favorable geologic quartz formations and investing in mines during the California and Nevada mining booms of the 1850s. In 1859, Hearst purchased a one-sixth interest in the Ophir silver mine, which later became known as the Comstock Lode. He made successful investments in several other mines including the Anaconda copper mine in Montana and the Homestake gold mine in South Dakota in 1877. In 1880, George Hearst acquired a small newspaper called the San Francisco Examiner.

In 1887, William Randolph Hearst left Harvard and persuaded his father to let him run the then financially unsuccessful San Francisco Examiner. At that time, the paper was operating in a small building located on Sacramento Street between Montgomery and Leidesdorf Streets. William Randolph Hearst acquired the lot on which the Hearst Building now resides in May of 1890. Mr. Hearst was crossing Van Ness Avenue on the north side of Market Street and had observed that the corner of Third and Market had a prominent visibility. At the time, the 5-story Nucleus Hotel was on the lot. Purportedly, this hotel was the largest brick structure on Market Street at the time.

The Nucleus Hotel, which by then was 25 years old and had become dated, was torn down and the 7-story Hearst Building constructed in 1898.

The new Hearst building was designed by the New York based architect A.C. Schweinfurth in a Mission Revival style. From this location, Hearst printed the San Francisco Examiner newspaper into the 1960s.

That building was destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent fire of 1906 and the decision was made to rebuild. Phoebe Apperson Hearst commissioned the New York architectural firm of Kirby, Petit & Green to design the new structure. The initial thought was to construct a grand 26 story building topped with a 1-story copper lantern balcony on a roof of copper tiles covered in gold flecke. Inside the lantern would be a chiming clock. The City decided to implement a coordinated height plan along the Market Street corridor in the aftermath of the near total destruction of the buildings and ruled that the Hearst Building could be no taller than 12 stories above the ground floor.

The Hearst Building During Construction

Plans were completed in November of 1909 and construction progressed into 1911. Meanwhile, Hearst’s Examiner newspaper was being printed in a temporary home. The new Hearst building was in a Spanish Revival style construction, with Tennessee Pink marble on the lower floors and a terra cotta façade reaching to the roof parapet. The elevators were among the fastest in San Francisco. On September 11, 1911 the San Francisco Examiner moved into its newly completed home… the 13 story Hearst Building you see today at the corner of Third & Market Streets. This intersection was to become the heart of San Francisco and became known as “newspaper angle” because of the odd shaped corner configuration and because buildings on the opposite corners of the intersection housed the Call and the Chronicle newspapers.

In 1938, famed architect Julia Morgan was retained by Hearst to complete a remodel of the Hearst Building’s exterior entry way, the lobby on the ground floor and the parapet roof structure. Her work included the installation of a field of 20 cast bronze medallions containing fanciful animals above the front door, the addition of patriotic red white & blue lighting around the medallions, a crest above the front entry, an elaborate and beautiful lobby interior and updated elevator interiors. Her work remains unchanged today and is visible to the passerby.

Today, the Hearst Building remains a landmark building of historical significance

In 1965, the San Francisco Examiner relocated to 5th and Mission Streets in a joint operating agreement with the San Francisco Chronicle, also at that location. Art Gensler Architects was hired to update the Hearst Building’s office layout and electrical systems. This was Mr. Gensler’s first major commission. After completing his work, the building was leased to commercial offices.

Today, the Hearst Building remains a landmark building of historical significance, reflecting the elegance of a time gone by but containing modern office systems and companies. It is home to a diversified roster of businesses. The Hearst Corporation continues to operate its Western Real Estate operations out of this location.

The Hearst Building

5 Third Street
San Francisco, CA

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Marion Davies

Marion Davies was the stage name of Marion Cecilia Douras, born in Brooklyn, New York on January 3, 1897. She was the youngest of five children born to Bernard and Rose Douras.

Watching her sister achieve success in show business turned Marion’s inclinations toward a career in drama early in her life. After leaving school she became a model for the famous painters of the day. She assumed the stage name of Marion Davies and quickly established herself as a talented actress.

By the time she first met William Randolph Hearst, she had already made a name for herself acting on Broadway. Between 1915 and 1917 she appeared in “Chin-Chin,” “Stop, Look and Listen,” “Ziegfeld Follies,” “Betty,” “Words and Music,” “Miss 1917,” and “Oh Boy.” Her first encounter with Hearst came while acting in the Ziegfeld Follies.

Her brother-in-law George Lederer directed her first film, “Runaway Romany,” supposedly written and scripted by Davies herself. In 1918, shortly after meeting Hearst for the first time, she starred in “Cecilia of the Pink Roses,” a film backed by Hearst. From this point on, as a gifted comedienne, she was the most advertised actress in the world. She also produced movies herself.

During the next ten years she would appear in 29 films. By the end of her career she had starred in a total of 46 films, including 16 talkies. In the early twenties, she and Hearst moved their company, Cosmopolitan Productions, to California and joined forces with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. All of her major films were produced by Cosmopolitan Productions and filmed at Paramount, MGM and Warner Brothers studios.

Shortly after meeting Hearst she became his constant companion and confidante. She was Hollywood’s foremost hostess, throwing lavish parties at both Hearst Castle and at a extraordinary mansion on the beach in Santa Monica. Dignitaries, Hollywood stars and famous athletes eagerly accepted invitations to her parties. She followed the recommendations of Hearst’s financial advisors, avoided debt, and invested wisely in real estate.

During the late thirties, hard times hit Hearst Corporation, and Marion gave Hearst a check for one million dollars to save the company from collapse. According to those who knew her, this selfless act was just one example of Marion’s character. She founded the Marion Davies Children’s Clinic, now part of the UCLA Medical Center. In 1947, Davies and Hearst left San Simeon for the last time and moved to her home in Beverly Hills where Hearst died four years later.

Davies died on September 22, 1961 from cancer and is interred in the Douras family crypt at Hollywood Memorial Park.

“Hearst Castle”, “Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument”, “La Cuesta Encantada”, and “The Enchanted Hill”
are registered trademarks of Hearst Castle®/California State Parks.

References & Further Reading

Adams, C. "Is Hemp the Answer to Our Environmental Problems?" The Straight Dope. Sun-Times Media, 31 Jan. 1997. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <>

Bonnie, R., Whitebread, C. "The Forbidden Fruit and the Tree of Knowledge: An Inquiry into the Legal History of American Marijuana Prohibition." Virginia Law Review. 1 Oct. 1970, Volume 56, Number 6.

Gieringer, D. "The Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in California." Contemporary Drug Problems. 1 Jul. 1999, Volume 26, Number 2.

Surgeon General. "State Laws Relating to the Control of Narcotic Drugs and the Treatment of Drug Addiction." Public Health Reports. 1 Jan. 1931, Supplement 91.

Swanberg, W. Citizen Hearst. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961. 581-582.

Wishnia, S. "Debunking the Hemp Conspiracy Theory." AlterNet. Independent Media Institute, 20 Feb. 2008. Web. 1 Feb. 2014. <>

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