His father was a multi-millionaire miner named George Hearst. His mother was Phoebe Hearst, a school teacher from Missouri. At the age of ten Hearst and his mother toured Europe. Hearst was enrolled in St. Paul's Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire at the age of 16.
In 1903, Mr. Hearst married Millicent Willson in New York City. The couple had five sons together during their marriage: George, William Randolph Hearst Jr., John and twins Randolph and David.
He studied at Harvard (1882-85), 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 drama and inspiration.
In 1895, William Hearst purchased the New York Morning Journal and entered into a head-to-head circulation war with his former mentor, Joseph Pulitzer, owner of the New York World. To increase circulation both started to include articles about the Cuban Insurrection. Many stories in both newspaper greatly exaggerated their claims to make the stories more sensational. Both Hearst and Pulitzer published images of Spanish troops placing Cubans into concentration camps where they were 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 this style of sensationalized newspaper articles.
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 William McKinley. A member of the US House of Representatives (1903--7), he failed in attempts to become mayor (1905 and 1909) and the post of governor of New York (1906). 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. His national chain of newspapers and periodicals grew to include the Chicago Examiner, Boston American, Cosmopolitan, and Harper's Bazaar.
In the 1920s Hearst built a castle on a 240,000 acre ranch at San Simeon, California where he lived with actress Marion Davies. At his peak he owned 28 major newspapers and 18 magazines, along with several radio stations and movie companies. However, 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 [1863-1951]
- William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) at http://www.hearstcastle.org