Raising More Than Kane: Steve Hearst great grandson of William Randolph Hearst will screen for citizens at The Hearst Castle

By Nancy Chuda founder and Editor-in-Chief of LuxEcoLiving and co-founder of Healthy Child Healthy World. Reporting from San Simeon California.


“San Simeon was the place God would have built–if he had the money.”

In 1941, the lights  dimmed at La Questa Encantada when the movie  Citizen Kane,  Orson Welles homage to newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst  was first released. Welles was only twenty-four when he took aim at one of the most powerful men in history.

“Hearst and Welles were proud, gifted, and destructive–geniuses each in his way. The fight that ruined them both was thoroughly in character with how they’d lived their lives.”

Hearst was king of a newspaper empire who  had more insider umpires to detract offensive rumors then the NFL has players. But one very smart “boy genius” made an historic tackle that lives in infamy.

At the time, one of Hearst umpires was Hedda Hopper, the leading gossip columnist of the day. She hated the movie, calling it “a vicious and irresponsible attack on a great man.”

Hedda Hopper comes to the rescue of William Randolph Hearst after the release of Citizen Kane

Soon the titans clashed armor.  Vast wealth against tinsel’s town. The stuff of Hollywood when it makes or breaks legends or twists fate by revealing unrequited love affairs which disrupts the  sanctity of  the high moral ground; the place where personal ruination results. But religious ideologies did not hold Hearst harmless from rumor.  Facts detonated, weakened and almost defamed Hearst and his empire. He literally became imprisoned  in his own castle when the world viewed him as Charles Foster Kane and equated his power and wealth to be evil and his action immoral.

Citizen Kane was  brutal as it defamed Hearst against his own ego. Self-conscious and righteous about his privilege for privacy  when Hearst learned through Hopper of Welles’ film, he set out to protect his reputation by shutting the film down.

Back then the good old boys network got its roots. Hollywood executive  Louis B. Mayer came to Hearst’s rescue. Money had an impact on the talkies. Forget about the artist, Welles,  went bonkers when he learned that Mayer was attempting to buy Citizen Kane in order to burn the negative.

William Randolph Hearst

Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane








At the same time, Hearst’s umpires, (more moguls were getting paid under the table then starlets getting laid on casting couches)  moved to intimidate exhibitors into refusing to show the movie. There wasn’t enough  ink to print the smears in the newspapers or trace the handwritten threats of blackmail. Things got so wacky that the FBI pulled forces and guys like  Jack Webb were used to investigate the crime.


FBI agents like Jack Webb conduct investigations

Call it a revolting development for Hollywood and Welles. It was no life and a no go for Riley. With the added temperament of  Jackie Gleason, Hearst’s rage coupled with his savvy political lobbying skills debunked the debacle of his somewhat true to  life story and it would be nearly a quarter-century before Citizen Kane was revived and even more time before Welles would gain popular recognition for having created one of cinema’s great masterpieces.

It has been an ensuing battle ever since. There’s a great story and line from Hearst himself. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., remembers his father asking Hearst why he preferred concentrating on newspapers, with their limited, regional appeal, rather than spending more energy on motion pictures and their worldwide audience. Fairbanks recalls Hearst’s reply: “I thought of it, but I decided against it. Because you can crush a man with journalism, and you can’t with motion pictures.”

Hearst was a 76-year-old newspaper magnate whose  daring and single-mindedness had made him a publishing legend. The son of a wealthy mine owner, he too had been raised to believe he could have everything. He built his empire selling newspapers filled with entertaining stories that were often scandalous and, occasionally, pure fiction.

But Hollywood could turn tales into film which would magnetize audiences beyond the written word. This became Hearst’s nemesis. But Welles would have found retaliation having discovered an insider’s take on a crime story published by an editor at the Herald-Examiner, a Hearst publication.

“We had a crime story that was going to be featured in a 96-point headline on page one,” remembers Vern Whaley. “When I found the address that was in the story, that address was a vacant lot. So I hollered over at the rewrite desk, I said, ‘You got the wrong address in this story. This is a vacant lot.’ The copy chief that night was a guy named Vic Barnes. And he says, ‘Sit down, Vern.’ He says, ‘The whole story’s a fake.”

Fast forward to San Simeon and the historic screening of Citizen Kane which will be shown for the very first time to press and the public at Hearst’s San Simeon Castle.

The Hearst Castle

Steven Hearst, William Randolph Hearst’s great-grandson and a Vice-President of the Hearst Corporation–gave his hearty endorsement to this showing circumventing what San Luis Obismo film festival organizers thought he might be resistant to; since the film is after all a scathing indictment of Hearst’s life as a press lord. But beyond the hidden architectural wonders of Julia Morgan’s masterpiece a haunting memory remains.

Both William Randolph Hearst’s companion Marion Davies and his son William Randolph Hearst, Jr. stated that Hearst himself never saw Citizen Kane. Nearly everyone else saw it, however. And seventy years after its 1941 debut, many people still form their opinions of Hearst, Davies, and La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill, Hearst’s formal name for his beloved San Simeon).

William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies

Steve Hearst feels it is time to give Citizen Kane an informed viewing at San Simeon, and place it in its proper context as a sketch of Hearst’s life drawn with considerable artistic license.

Citizen Kane is a classic American film but is in no way a historically accurate depiction of William Randolph Hearst or his favorite place in the world, his ranch,” said Steve Hearst.

But what would the “boy genius” Orson Welles have said about his historic marker. He hardly had a castle and  lived modestly  in the Hollywood Hills.

“Everybody told me from the moment I could hear that I was absolutely marvelous,” Welles recounts.

But who was Rosebud? Was it the name of William Randolph Hearst’s fondest memory of a sled he enjoyed in his youth? Or was it the irresistible charm of the girl in the  green hat?

A sketch of Marion Davies wearing a green hat circa 1920

Long live Kane’s snow flaked crystal and words “Rosebud,”  knowing some  memories  have a shelf life beyond the grave.







Editor’s Notes: Follow Nancy Chuda’s coverage of the special screening of  Citizen Kane for The Huffington Post, Facebook and Twitter.



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Article by Nancy Chuda

Nancy Chuda is a seasoned broadcast journalist, television writer/producer, talk show host and author. Her career spans over three decades having appeared on both national and cable television. In 1971 she authored one of America’s first low-calorie cookbooks, How To Gorge George Without Fattening Fanny, published by Hawthorn Books. Appearing as a regular guest on Dinah’s Place, Dinah Shore’s ABC daytime talk show. And later on The Johnny Carson Show, The Today Show with Barbara Walters, Merv Griffin, Phil Donahue, and David Frost. In 1972, Nancy and ABC’s Good Morning America co-produced Michael Krause produced a cable program, The Low- Calorie Gallery, based on her best selling cook book. In 1975, hired by Warner-Amex as part of a creative team, she was responsible for hosting and producing content for Columbus Then and Now, a program, the invention of QUBE, an interactive television system which played a pivotal role in the history of American cable television. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QUBE In 1978 she developed a series for ABC’s Good Morning America based on an article which appeared in Mother Earth News magazine. The Integral Urban House, a case study project and model for a sound urban habitat sponsored by the Farallones Institute in Berkley California was the first example of green architecture ever to be televised. In 1979, Nancy co-produced and hosted Sunnyside a Los Angeles based public affairs program viewed on the CBS affiliate station KNXT, From 1980-1984, she appeared on KABC’s Eyewitness News as entertainment reporter and film critic. Her environmental advocacy began when her daughter was diagnosed with cancer. In 1990 she co-produced an Emmy nominated ABC Variety Special, An Evening With Friends For The Environment to benefit Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet one of the first national children’s environmental health advocacy groups in which she served as a volunteer. Currently, she is the co-founder and President Emeritus of Healthy Child Healthy World, a non-profit organization established to honor the Chuda’s only child, Colette, who died in 1991 at the age of 5 from Wilm’s tumor a nonhereditary childhood cancer. She is also the co-founder of The Colette Chuda Environmental Fund, a donor-advised fund which supports major epidemiological research on children’s health. Nancy has won numerous awards for her advocacy. In 1996, the California League of Conservation Voters Environmental Leadership Award, The Healthy Schools Heroes Award, presented to both her and her husband James Chuda by California Governor Gray Davis for their legislative efforts in securing The Healthy Schools Act which was signed into law in September, 2000. In 2003, Parent’s Magazine published an article Mom’s On A Mission and awarded Nancy for her environmental leadership for children’s environmental health. She serves as an associate of the Director’s Council of Public Representatives of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was appointed by President Clinton’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Donna Shalala, to serve as a member of the National Advisory Council for the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) a position she held for four years. In 2010, along with her husband James she founded LuxEcoLiving. Nancy Chuda tagged this post with: , , , , , , , Read 265 articles by

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