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William Randolph Hearst

(1863—1951) American newspaper publisher and tycoon


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(1863–1951)

US newspaper tycoon and politician.

The son of a mine-owner and rancher, Hearst was expelled from Harvard University for a prank. In 1887 he took charge of the San Francisco Examiner, owned by his father, and he substantially increased its circulation with journalistic techniques modelled on those of Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. In 1895 Hearst bought the New York Journal and embarked on a fierce struggle for circulation with the rival World, using dramatic headlines and exaggerated stories to boost sales. From the early 1900s, Hearst began his acquisition of newspapers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and elsewhere; by 1927 he owned twenty-five dailies with a combined circulation of over five million. He also owned magazines, such as Cosmopolitan and Harper's Bazaar, news agencies, a film newsreel, and the Cosmopolitan Movie Company, which made several features starring Marion Davies (1897–1961), a former Ziegfeld Follies dancer and lifelong companion to Hearst.

Hearst's political career was less successful. Elected congressman for New York (1903–07), he narrowly missed the Democratic presidential nomination in 1904, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New York in 1905, and the following year lost his fight to become governor of New York. He was again defeated in the 1909 elections for mayor.

Immensely wealthy, Hearst spent lavishly, notably on the construction of a castle at San Simeon, California, and a vast collection of art treasures. The Depression hit Hearst's empire and forced the sale of his collections but Hearst survived to become one of the archetypal figures of US society, embodied in Orson Welles's film Citizen Kane (1941).

Subjects: Marketing — Arts and Humanities.


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