From the Archives: W. R. Hearst, 88, Dies in Beverly Hills


William Randolph Hearst, 88, founder of a publishing empire and for more than half a century one of the dominant figures in the newspaper field, died yesterday.

Death came at 9:50 a.m. at Mr. Hearst’s Beverly Hills home at 1007 N. Beverly Drive.

At the bedside were the publisher’s five sons, William Randolph Hearst Jr., publisher of the New York Journal-American; David Hearst, publisher of the Los Angeles Evening Herald & Express; Randolph Hearst, publisher of the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, and George and John Hearst.


Also present were Martin F. Huberth, chairman of the board of the Hearst Corp., Richard E. Berlin, president of the corporation, and Dr. Myron Prinzmetal, the publisher’s physician.

Ill for Several Years

Mr. Hearst had been ill several years. Frequent reports of the serious condition of his health had caused concern throughout the Hearst domain. But the Chief, as he was known to the 27,000 workers of the various Hearst enterprises, rallied repeatedly to resume his active role as editorial head of his national chain of newspapers.

Yesterday, however, he lapsed into a coma from which he did not awaken. Death came peacefully.

Two hours after Mr. Hearst’s death Dr. Prinzmetal issued a statement as to the cause of death. It said:

“Mr. William Randolph Hearst Sr. enjoyed robust health until approximately four years ago, when he became subject to the ailments of advanced age. Recently he suffered several cerebral vascular accidents from which he never fully recovered. He passed away quietly at 9:50 a.m.”


Widow in New York

Mr. Hearst’s widow learned of her husband’s death at her home at Southampton, N.Y., where she was spending the summer. She said through a spokesman that she would leave for California last night for his funeral.

Mr. Hearst’s body was taken to the Pierce Bros. Beverly Hills Mortuary and later removed and flown to his native San Francisco. There, it is understood, he is to be buried in Cypress Lawn Cemetery where his father, Sen. George Hearst, and his mother, Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst, are buried. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the City Council adjourned yesterday out of respect to the memory of Mr. Hearst.

On orders of Mayor Bowron, the City Hall Flag was lowered to half staff.

Mayor Bowron issued a statement in which he said:

“The people of our city have suffered a great loss. To hundreds of thousands of people in every walk of life, William Randolph Hearst was a great and true friend. He was my friend. He was a great influence for good in our everyday affairs. He stood for good government, honest government. He was for a greater Southwest, a greater California, a greater Los Angeles. He was a constant and vigilant foe of corruption and deceit. We have lost a great crusader, a man who loved his country, a man who loved our city and its people.”

Other tributes were expressed by Councilman Ed J. Davenport, Harold Henry, president of the Council; Louis B. Mayer, motion-picture executive; Joseph M. Schenck, production head of 20th Century-Fox; Harry M. Warner, president of Warner Bros.; Cecil B. DeMille, producer; Atty. Joseph Scott, L. M. Giannini, president of the Bank of America and many others.

Many Condolences

From all parts of the nation, messages of condolence were sent to members of the family.

The White House said that President Truman has been informed of Mr. Hearst’s death. “His immediate reaction was to express sympathy for the family of Mr. Hearst,” the White House said.

In New York, Cardinal Francis Spellman said:

“I mourn the death of a great American patriot, William Randolph Hearst, who fought battles on many fronts for all that America signifies and who leaves to posterity traditions to continue the fight for freedom and justice that will encourage and inspire Americans for many generations.”

Mayor Vincent R. Impellitteri of New York said he was “shocked and grieved to hear of the passing of William Randolph Hearst, great American and distinguished journalist.”

From UP President

From La Jolla, Hugh Baillie, president of the United Press Associations, sent the following telegram to William Randolph Hearst Jr.:

“With the passing of your father, one of the great figures of journalism has gone from among us. But the newspaper empire he created lives as a memorial to his genius. William Randolph Hearst originated many of the forms of daily publishing which now are familiar to all, and introduced an era of intense competition which ever since has had a stimulating effect on the enterprise and ingenuity of newspapering. His life and career are a conspicuous part of the history of our times.”


Hearst Will Filed for Probate in L.A. Court

Los Angeles Times

William Randolph Hearst’s will was filed for probate in Superior Court late yesterday but a few hours after his death, disposing of an estate generally believed to be worth about $200,000,000.

The will, dated May 20, 1947, and containing 57 typewritten pages, was supplemented by nine codicils, each of which made change in the will and effected alterations in preceding codicils.

The will and codicils combined totaled 125 typewritten pages.

No Community Property

The documents combined to inform the probate magistrate who will ultimately pass on their validity that Mr. Hearst and his wife, Mrs. Millicent V. Hearst, from whom he had lived apart for many years, have no community property but that in the event she does establish the existence of holdings of this kind, she must elect whether she will take her share in this manner abide by the terms of the will and codicils.

Dated Aug. 15, 1947, the first codicil bequeathed Mr. Hearst’s home, 1007 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, to his friend and confidante of many years, Miss Marion Davies, former screen actress.

Bequest Revoked

“I hereby give,” Mr. Hearst provided in leaving the property to the actress, “devise and bequeath to may loyal friend, Miss Marion Douras (Miss Davies’ legal name), who came to my aid during the great depression with a million dollars of her own money, thereby doing much to save myself and my institutions from financial disaster at that time, the following property: My present home . . . together with all furniture, furnishings, fixtures, silverware, chinaware, rugs, works of art and antiques and other contents of said home.”

But a codicil dated Sept. 8, 1948, revoked this bequest without explanation.

There was no further mention of Miss Davies in the will or codicils.

Under the combined terms of the will and codicils most of the estate was ordered set up into two trust funds, one to be known as the family trust and the other a the residuary, or charitable, trust. Mrs. Hearst was left $1,500,00 in cash outright, on codicil explaining that this bequest was made for the purpose of facilitating her payment of taxes.

The facility trust was started with the bequest of preferred stock of the Hearst Corp. with a value of $6,000,000, the income to be paid Mrs. Hearst during her lifetime.

No obligations to Wife

“I now have no obligations of any kind to my wife, Millicent V. Hearst,” one of the codicils read, “Other than support and maintenance, which obligation I am currently discharging, and I do not anticipate that she will make any claim against me or my estate (other than for a reasonable family allowance).”

This same codicil directed that, if in the judgment of the trustees Mrs. Hearst succeeded in establishing validity of any other claims not justified, they are empowered to deduct the value of these claims from the share of the estate willed to her.

Bequests for Sons

The documents then direct that enough preferred stock to provide a yearly income of $150,000 be added to 100 shares of common stock in the Hearst Corp. for the benefit of the publisher’s five sons.

They were identified as William Randolph Hearst Jr., New York City; John Randolph Hearst, Roslyn, Long Island; Randolph Apperson Hearst, Burlingame, Cal.; David Whitmire Hearst, 2111 Coldwater Canyon Road, Beverly Hills, and George Hearst, 1007 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills.

All the residue of the estate was ordered into another trust fund to provide an income for the benefit of literary, religious, educational, charitable and public institutions, the will and codicils directing that these include the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art, and the University of California.

Bequeaths Art Objects

Provision also was made for California Charities Foundation, 1232 Rowan Building, which was bequeathed objects of art, antiques, and other valuables which Mr. Hearst collected from all parts of the world at great expense.

The will itself also expressed the hope that some of the antiques and objects of art be made the nucleus of a collection for a public museum in a building erected for this purpose and named in memory of “My beloved mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst.”

Further, the will made the following requests concerning the preservation of the publishing empire:

“I request my executors and trustees, without, however, attempting to restrict their discretion and authority hereunder, not to part with ownership or control of any newspaper, magazine, feature service, news service, photographic service, or periodical, either directly or by sale or by exchange of the capital stock . . . unless it shall, in their opinion, be necessary or prudent to do so.”

Disinheritance Clauses

The original will also contained the following disinheritance clauses for anyone making claims against the huge estate:

“I hereby declare that the only children I have ever had are my sons in this will named . . . If any person or persons other than my said sons shall assert and finally establish in a court of competent jurisdiction that he or she is a child of mine or is issue of a child of mine, other than by my said sons in this will names, then I give and bequeathe to each such person the sum of $1. I hereby declare that any such asserted claim of heirship or kinship to me is and would be utterly false and wholly fraudulent.”

Will and codicils provide that upon the death of the last surviving grandson both trusts are to be dissolved. The family trust goes then to the heirs of the grandchildren. The residuary trust, it is provided, is to be divided among the organizations which have enjoyed the income, at the discretion of the trustees.

Trustees Named

Trustees names were the five sons and eight business associates, Martin F. Huberth, Richard E. Berlin, William M. Baskervill, Harold G. Kern, Richard A. Carrington Jr., Henry S. MacKay Jr., William A. Curley and Walter Howey.

Under the original will, later altered by a codicil, the family trust was to have been made up of 53,335 shares of the preferred stock and 100 shares of the common stock of the Hearst Corp. The income was to have gone two-sevenths to the widow and five-sevenths equally to the five sons.

Hearing Set Aug. 27

Hearing on the petition for probate of the will and codicils was set for Aug. 27 before Superior Judge Newcomb Condee.

Shortly after the documents were filed the judge signed an order permitting the executors to apply for special letters of administration within five days. The jurist was informed that this step was taken and the will was filed in such haste because it is necessary to place someone in immediate control of the publishing empire.

The probate petitions were prepared by Attys. William R. Flint and Henry S. MacKay Jr., who is also one of the trustees.