BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Ben Procter, who was William Randolph Hearst?
PROFESSOR BEN PROCTER, AUTHOR, "WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST: THE EARLY YEARS, 1863-1910" He was a towering figure in late 19th and early 20th century. He was an individual that shaped both American domestic and foreign policies, at least--from the late 1890s to the early 19 teens, at least. He was an individual who, he thought, was responsible for the Spanish-American War. If he wasn't responsible, he helped mold public opinion in that way, in that direction, for the United States to intervene in behalf of justice and freedom for the Cubans.
He was an individual who was a true progressive and would advocate many, many reforms that would come about in the early 1900s. But I think as much as anything, he was the foremost communicator of his day, in this book that I have written that goes to 1910. He has eight newspapers in the five largest cities in this country, three million readers. And since there was no radio, since there was no television--radio in 1920 and I think television first in 1939, but really after World War II--his effect upon the American policies and the American way of life were tremendous.
LAMB: What was his relationship to the term `yellow journalism'?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, it came in view from the fact that in October, 1898, he would produce a cartoon that Richard Outcault called the Yellow Kid. It was a color cartoon--the first time that you had color cartoons and you would have a bright yellow. Here was a--the Yellow Kid was a street urchin--this comic strip character--in Hogan's Alley, which was a slum in New York. How that would come about to be yellow journalism is that in his nationwide war or his New York war for supremacy of journalism with Joseph Pulitzer, his exciting way of presenting news, of entertainment, of bold headlines, of salacious comments about individuals-- all of that would be termed--Hearst wanted to call it ‘new journalism’, but it was termed --with Pulitzer ‘yellow journalism’, just because of the name the Yellow Kid. If the cartoon had been called the `Purple Kid,' it'd probably been called ‘purple journalism’ instead.
LAMB: When did you first get interested in William Randolph Hearst?
PROF. PROCTER: I formulated a course at TCU in the 1960s.
LAMB: That's Texas Community--Christian Community...
PROF. PROCTER: Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth. And it was advanced junior-senior, graduate-level course. This course, sometimes called the Progressive period, but it'd 1865 to 1917. And I began to realize the effect that Hearst would have upon individuals: Spanish-American War, yellow journalism. Also, I began to read somewhat on San Simeon, where the Hearst Castle was. And it made me realize I wanted to know more about him, especially after reading in The American Historical Journal where--they would send out to me. And I'm a life member. And every six months to a year, I would see, in the mid-1960s, where it would say, `New papers coming in to the Hearst Collection at The Bancroft Library at University of California at Berkeley.
I would see that yearly, and finally I said--I thought, with new materials coming in, diaries, letters, with new works coming about by other historians that would--well, you know, other biographies, like Hearst was involved with William Jennings Bryan, and there are three biographies on him after the 1960s; that's the last biography. I began to realize that there must be something here, an untold story as yet.
LAMB: So what's new in here?
PROF. PROCTER: I realized the type of journalism that Hearst had. It may have been yellow journalism, but I didn't realize how much he fabricated in the Spanish-American War, how he would make up things. As long as it was interesting, as long as it gained results, as long as it was entertaining, then that was a--he would accept that. We call it tabloid journalism today, I would say. I think he's one of the forerunners of tabloid journalism.
He would be a man who would want to shape domestic and foreign policy. As I say, whether he began the Spanish-American War or not, he thought he did. He called it `the journal's war' in the newspapers. Even though he called it the ‘journal's war’, he helped mold or shape public opinion. Keep in mind that this was when the United States was approximately 60 percent still rural, and Hearst and Pulitzer had the AP wire. And, therefore, they would go out--what they would say would go out to all parts of the country in rural America.
Now some of these papers--if you've seen some of these small-town newspapers, they didn't have much news in them, so they might have, `Mr. Leary's cow got into Mrs. So and So's cabbage,' something like that. You know, just mundane type of things. They would now be able to use these stories that were put out by Pulitzer and Hearst.
LAMB: In his lifetime, how many different political offices did he run for, and what did he win?
PROF. PROCTER: He ran the first time in 1902. He ran in 1902 for Congress. He ran two terms. He served in the 58th and 59th Congresses. He then decided he would run for president, and in 1904, he came in second--he was a Democrat, and he came in second in the Democratic process for nomination for president. Alton B. Parker of New York defeated him. He then decided that he wanted to be--he really wanted to be president of the United States. Hearst was a type of individual that never wanted to be second in anything. He wanted to excel. And he decided, therefore, that he really wanted to be governor.
He tried to manipulate, in certain ways, to get somebody else to run for mayor of New York, but then he decided to run for mayor in 1905; was defeated. Then in 1906, he did run for governor against Charles Evans Hughes and was defeated. And...
PROF. PROCTER: No. By 57,000 votes by Hughes. And in 1905 for mayor, it was--well, it was called the stolen election. He fought against Tammany Hall, the great Democratic organization in New York--boss organization in New York. And the action--it was called a stolen election. He was defeated by some 3,400 votes out of over 1/2 million cast. And they later would try to check on--or have a recount, but there were 101 boxes where there were more ballots cast than there were voters registered, and so the courts finally said, `We can't have all this recounted.'
But he gained tremendous fame from being the uncrowned mayor of New York in '05. Then he ran for governor in '06; defeated, 57,000. He would then run again in 1909 for mayor and then--against a man by the name of Gaynor, and he came in third. And that was his last real election where he headed a ticket. He would run again in 1910, one time for lieutenant governor. But he didn't --that's the only time he did not campaign, and he was defeated there.
LAMB: How many times did he run for president?
PROF. PROCTER: He ran for president once, in 1904.
LAMB: On the cover of your book, you say that this is "The Early Years, 1863-1910." Is there another book?
PROF. PROCTER: Another book's in the works.
LAMB: Why did you stop at 1910?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, it was a--seemed to be a stopping point. The man lived for 88 years; he died in 1951on August the 13th, 1951. This is the first 47 years of his life. In turn, these are the productive years as far as journalism is concerned. And also, this is the end of his political career. Although he wants to run for president again, he never has that chance and he's never a candidate.
LAMB: Patty Hearst, a name that we all know...
PROF. PROCTER: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...in the last 20 years. What's the relationship of Patty Hearst to William Randolph Hearst?
PROF. PROCTER: Granddaughter. Granddaughter. She was married--she was married--her father was one of the five sons and the only one that's alive today, as a matter of fact, one of the twins born in 1915. And...
LAMB: And his name?
PROF. PROCTER: It's Randolph.
LAMB: Was it a William Randolph Hearst Jr.?
PROF. PROCTER: No. There's a-- there's George--William Randolph "Bill" Jr. that died a little over a year ago, then there's John and then the two twins.
LAMB: What today has the name Hearst on it in American journalism?
PROF. PROCTER: There are still some newspapers.
LAMB: Like The San Francisco Examiner.
PROF. PROCTER: San Fran--Examiner, the Houston Chronicle. There is the Hearst Corporation. There's a Hearst Corporation that is a multimillion-dollar corporation.
PROF. PROCTER: Magazines, things of this sort. But not of the stature and it's not known as it was at this time because everything that Hearst—every one of his newspapers, it would be known as the Hearst newspaper. It was the Hearst New York American or the Hearst New York Journal, Hearst Chicago American or the Hearst Chicago Examiner or the San Francisco Examiner, Hearst's paper. Everything seemed to have his stamp on it in this period of time, of the late 1890s and up through the 1940s.
LAMB: Now whenever you describe him in the book, you always mention that he lisped.
PROF. PROCTER: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: How could somebody be this prominent and be a public figure and not have that get in the way somehow, back in those days?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, at first he didn't want to speak. He wanted just to be behind the scenes. He wasn't going to get into politics; didn't want to be. I mean, he liked politics, but he wanted to be a mover and a shaker; in other words, a king-maker. He had this high, thin voice, as Ambrose Bierce called it in his invective way. He said, `It was like crushed violets turned audible.' It was high tenor, and he had a slight lisp, as you mentioned.
LAMB: Can you hear the voice anywhere? Is it on tape anywhere?
PROF. PROCTER: The one time I realized what he sounded like is at the San Simeon Archives. There is a wire recording of one speech he made in 1940.
LAMB: Where is San Simeon?
PROF. PROCTER: San Simeon, San Simeon Bay--about 130 miles, 140 miles north of--on the Pacific Coast. About 130 miles north of Los Angeles, about 150 or so, 160, south of San Francisco.
LAMB: And what is it?
PROF. PROCTER: The San Simeon is the Hearst Castle on Enchanted--as he called it, on Enchanted Hill. And they have an archives there of people who visited there at the time--or in the 1920s and '30s and '40s, reminiscing about what he was like, what they did at San Simeon when he would invite these actors and actresses there, hosted by Marion Davies and by him.
LAMB: Who was Marion Davies?
PROF. PROCTER: Hearst met her in 1915--she was in "Ziegfeld Follies"--and fell in love with her. He wanted to divorce his wife; she would not give him a divorce--Millicent--Millicent would not, therefore, she lived in New York. She was literally the mistress at San Simeon. And they would host the Hollywood crowd there, you know, for the next 30 years. And he would build up his collections there and build this huge castle with all of these artifacts, this antique furniture, beautiful paintings of the old masters and things of this sort.
LAMB: And so when people go up and down that coast out in California and they stop at the Hearst Castle, they're seeing a place where he lived. And what do they see--you know, how big a deal is it there?
PROF. PROCTER: They see one of the grand--not homes, one of the grand castles, the grand structures in the United States. It was donated to the University --state of California in the 1960s, and they run tours there three times a day to the three different castles. He has one on the Spanish--with Spanish backgrounds; another one with French; another one with Italian and--with all the different furniture--antique furniture, with the sculpts. It's a fantastic place.
LAMB: You say early in your book that there have been seven biographers of William Randolph Hearst.
PROF. PROCTER: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: Are they biographers that he chose or that somebody else--they chose themselves?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, five of 'em are favorable. Three of them worked for him: Mrs. Fremont Older, and her husband--her husband was an editor; John Winkler worked with him and was an editor, had two books. You had--but there were five of them in all. Swanberg--Bill Swanberg did it on his own but had support from the Hearst family. And then there are two negative biographies--one by Lundberg, one not well written or edit--but it was a negative one. And another one by Carlson and Bates. They were better, but they were still maybe negative. And were both in the 1930s.
LAMB: Go back to--we were talking about earlier--this book here is different because of what new information that you got?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, first, about how he fashioned his career in journalism, how he fashioned his papers.
LAMB: Where'd you get that information?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, I went through daily the newspapers. Any number of people had said that the papers reflected the character and the vision of Hearst, the personality of Hearst. Have...
LAMB: What newspapers did you read?
PROF. PROCTER: I read the New York--beginning of the New--when he began the New York Journal beginning of November. That--well, I really began it in October, 1890--1895 and went all the way through 1910 daily.
LAMB: You read every day.
PROF. PROCTER: Charted it. Charted it. Yes.
LAMB: Where did you do this?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, partly at the Library of Congress, and then there would also be at Texas Christian University. In their library alone, they would give me--they would have this information for me.
LAMB: Is it on microfiche?
PROF. PROCTER: Oh, yes. Microfilm, yes. And go eight hours a day reading that microfilm, it can be brutal, but you find out a great deal about the man and about his papers.
LAMB: What other newspaper did you read?
PROF. PROCTER: I read the San Francisco Examiner from 1880 to 1895, when he would leave for New York.
LAMB: Fifteen years' worth?
PROF. PROCTER: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: Every day.
PROF. PROCTER: Every day, and charted it, outlined it so I would know what was happening. Found out what the man was like in term--if it reflects his newspapers, which reflects his personality, which I think it did.
LAMB: How long did it take you to do these two newspapers?
PROF. PROCTER: Oh, well, I would go at them piecemeal, meaning I would take so many years and then I would write a chapter. I would have the other background on the primary sources already, manuscript materials and secondary. Then I would go through and read so many years in the newspapers. But it--I would also read--I read briefly the San Francisco Chronicle at different places. I read...
LAMB: He didn't own that.
PROF. PROCTER: No, he didn't. I also wanted to make sure I read all of The New York Times from 1895 to 1910. And I read the World for about four years in there daily.
LAMB: Who owned The World?
PROF. PROCTER: That was Joseph Pulitzer.
LAMB: Now there's a--one reference in your book where you say that Mr. Hearst referred to Joseph Pulitzer as `that Jew Pulitzer.'
PROF. PROCTER: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: Was that a pejorative term when he used it?
PROF. PROCTER: It was when he was--his first year that he was at the--one of the few times he would ever use any type of profanity or any negative aspects on anyone. It was his first year, and he was--he didn't realize how strenuous the job--being at 23, how strenuous the job was gonna be for a young editor.
LAMB: And what was his title at age 23?
PROF. PROCTER: He was editor of the San Francisco Examiner. His father --and used it as a political rag. It was just--really, just to advance his cause as a Democrat.
LAMB: What was his father's highest office that he held?
PROF. PROCTER: He became a United States senator from California, a Democratic senator; died in 1891.
LAMB: How old was he when he was a senator?
PROF. PROCTER: He was born in 1820, so that made him 56--no, 66. He was 66, and he died when he was 71.
LAMB: Here he is at age 40.
PROF. PROCTER: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: How did he make his money to get the Examiner?
PROF. PROCTER: He was the type of individual who had very little education, but he was a tremendous miner. When he was in Missouri, he was a--when he first was in Missouri, in his early years, he was a lead miner. And the Indians would say that he was `boy that Earth talked to.' He--and any number of his colleagues would say that in the--he could see--a rock formation that he had seen 30 years before, yet he could still see it in detail again exactly as it was.
He was surely successful. He obtained 1/6th in the four greatest mines in this country. He obtained portions or all of them. The Comstock at Virginia City in Nevada, he had 1/6th in that. After he would run through that money in '70--'72, where he was broke or almost bankrupt; in '70--he only had $600 again--he then invested in the Ontario Mine. It was one of the great silver mines in Utah. Then, in '77, for $70,000, he obtained a controlling interest of the Homestake Mine, which is in South Dakota. It's the greatest gold mine in this country. And then in 1881, for a 7/16th amount, Richard Daley asked him if--in Butte, Montana, would he invest in what was known as Anaconda. And, therefore, price of copper went up within two years, he made millions on that. He would never have to worry again about finances--ever again.
LAMB: George Hearst was United States senator, but in those days, the state legislature chose them.
PROF. PROCTER: Absolutely.
LAMB: How did he get chosen, and how important was it that he owned this paper that he got to be senator?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, he used that to promote the Democratic policies and himself. He had a Democratic governor, Stoneman, who would appoint him when the former senator--US senator died. And then you have indirect election of senators, and the California Legislature would elect him to that office. It's interesting that soon thereafter, William Randolph Hearst would come out for a direct election of senators as a reform, but not while his father was there.
LAMB: And why did he make his son, at age 23, the publisher of the San Francisco Examiner?
PROF. PROCTER: He tried in every way he could to persuade him not to. His mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, wanted him to be a diplomat. His father tried to adhere to her advice and her wishes. His father owned--also was tremendous as far as understanding about land--the land, so he offered him to be the manager of the Babicora Ranch, a million-acre ranch in Chihuahua. He said no.
PROF. PROCTER: In Mexico, yes, in Chihuahua, just south of Texas and New Mexico. And Hearst never wanted to do something anyone else could do. He wanted to do something that no one else had done, is what I'm trying to say. When he was 11 years old--and I'll get back to that--when he was 11 years old, he was in Italy, and they showed him the eternal flame. He wanted to try to put it out because he wanted to do something no one else had done.
So when it came to Babicora Ranch, a million-acre ranch, and he was offered that at age 23, he said, `I don't want that. Anybody could do that.' They then offered him to be manager of San Simeon, a 275,000-acre ranch. He said no. They then offered him the piece de resistance, which would be the Homestake, the gold mine, be manager. He said, `I don't want to do that. I want to be manager of the Examiner.'
George Hearst looked at his accountant, said, `How much would it cost me a year?' And Hearst--the accountant said, `It would cost you $100,000.' And he said, `Hell, that ain't no money.' And so he--on March the 4th, 1887, he became the head of the Examiner at age 23.
LAMB: Now go back to your newspaper reading days. How many years did it take you to get the information to finish this book?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, I--as far as manuscript collections, I began in 1881.
PROF. PROCTER: 1981, yes. Did I say 18?
LAMB: Yeah. You're living back in those years.
PROF. PROCTER: I'm living--I lived with him. No, in 1981. I collected much of that information within a year or two at Huntington Library...
PROF. PROCTER: ...at California; Bancroft, which has a tremendous amount. I later on collected a little bit at Harvard or Harvard Archives or at Yale, Columbia a great deal--Columbia Archives. But as far as newspapers, I really began looking at newspapers in the '90s and then began in earnest to write about this in '95. In the last two and a half years, I would read the newspapers, with the manuscript materials and with the secondary sources, and there I would have the story.
LAMB: How often do you think anyone else has ever done what you've done?
PROF. PROCTER: I haven't found anybody that has, as far as on Hearst.
LAMB: That have read those two newspapers...
PROF. PROCTER: Well, I--I...
LAMB: ...Examiner and the World.
PROF. PROCTER: No. I haven't found many--Richard Lowitt of University of Oklahoma, emeritus now--he wrote a three-volume work on George Norris. He was kind of my idol as far as me trying to use the same type of techniques or the same type of diligence in research.
LAMB: Now did--you mentioned the Library of Congress here. Where did you spend the most time in this process?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, the Madison Building. They have a manuscript collection there, and I surely went through all the manuscript collections that had to do with anything with Hearst. There were several people there that would direct me, several friends, that'd say, `Here's where you might find papers,' and I'd look through all of that. And then I went through the newspapers themselves daily.
PROF. PROCTER: Yes. And then, in turn, when I would have inter-library loan, they would also--they would ship me some of those as well--years.
LAMB: How many days do you think you sat over here in the Library of Congress?
PROF. PROCTER: Oh, my. Endless. But...
PROF. PROCTER: Yes, hundreds of days, because if you're gonna understand what the man's like, you--then you see his personality in the papers.
LAMB: But how'd you keep going?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, your eyes try to--your eyes sometimes go out, but at the same time, when you find somebody that fascinating--Hearst was unique. I've written a biography before, but I've never found anybody that was so innovative, so--he was--he sometimes--his ideas bordered on genius--that I am amazed--I'm amazed what he would come up with.
Just to give you an example, when he first started out at the San Francisco Examiner, he said, `Get results.' He said, `I want good writing. I want it to be exciting. I want the paper to be exciting.' Some described it sometimes when stories would break, `Get the scoop and be the first.' Always wanted to be the first, to be excellent.
LAMB: Let me interrupt to say that you wrote on early--that he wanted the following words in the headlines: fatal, tragic, crimes, victim, suicide, slain and other words.
PROF. PROCTER: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: And did he actually have those words on paper somewhere, where he wanted people to use these?
PROF. PROCTER: No. He would have them in the newspaper, and you could see day after day after day, here would be the key words in the Examiner that you would find in front-page headlines, second page, third page. What he called this was his `gee'--what Arthur McEwen said was `gee-whiz journalism,' one his of his first editors. He said--yeah.
LAMB: He also said that reporters must focus on--and I wrote this down--love and sex, tragedy and pathos, crime and violence. Overall, be sensational.
PROF. PROCTER: Yes.
LAMB: Is there anybody that does this today in the mainstream press, in your opinion?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, tabloid journalists do.
LAMB: What about television?
PROF. PROCTER: I think at times, we've seen where they focus on whether it be innuendo, maybe not innuendo, but a--without corroborating evidence, but will put it forward.
LAMB: Is there anybody that you know of today that--and you--this is a quote from your book--that, "Mr. Hearst wanted government by newspaper," that wants government by television or government by newspaper today, or magazine?
PROF. PROCTER: I don't know whether they do or not. I know that Hearst did. I don't know that I can--know of any television station or newspaper that does that.
LAMB: When you were going through these papers, how long a day would you have?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, until I would get through a certain section. It might be --I would average-- every month, it would take me--since I'm outlining each paper, seeing what happens on every page, it would sometimes take me--for every month, it'd take me an hour. So you think of the number of hours--and I used to--I would count them up at one time, I said, `Well, I have 600 hours left, 500,' and it would encourage me. And, again, when you have somebody that's that exciting, that will show you different techniques--he called it--when he was running the newspaper on his own, they said it was like a Chinese fire drill, it was so much excitement. It was in San Francisco and also in New York, they said it was like an insane asylum run by a mad overseer or pandemonium with purpose.
LAMB: Here's a--I guess it's a painting...
PROF. PROCTER: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...a picture of a painting. What's this from?
PROF. PROCTER: That's Orrin Peck. Orrin Peck was a painter, a childhood friend. And in 1894, he--Hearst posed for this when he was still in San Francisco.
LAMB: How old would he have been here?
PROF. PROCTER: In '94--he was born in '63, so he was approximately 31.
LAMB: And what was his life like here?
PROF. PROCTER: He was a bachelor. He was a bachelor. One of his--the girlfriend he had been with was encouraged to leave by Mother.
LAMB: He said--paid him--paid her.
PROF. PROCTER: Not over $150,000
LAMB: Not over $150,000.
PROF. PROCTER: Yeah.
LAMB: Literally gave her money to get out.
PROF. PROCTER: The woman really loved him. She was the only one, by the way, that was not an actress or an actress of what Hearst would call talented.
LAMB: Was that Tessie Parker? Is that her last name?
PROF. PROCTER: Yeah, Tessie Powers.
LAMB: Tessie Powers.
PROF. PROCTER: Tessie Powers, yeah.
LAMB: And on the cover, how old is he here?
PROF. PROCTER: This is in his first years. He's about 33. This is--32, 33--1895, 1896. About 1996, he's about 33 years of age--only picture I've ever found of him like that, which I really, really enjoy.
LAMB: Now when you were going through the papers, did you find other opportunities to write about other than just on William Randolph Hearst, things that you learned about this country?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, I did--I did not go on any other areas as far as for Hearst in that period of time. I was sidetracked by other obligations. It's much like--you know the old story--I hope you know the old story possibly about Warren G. Harding and his father said, an off-the-record speech, he'd said--his father had said that, `You--it's good you weren't born a girl. You can't say no. You'd be in a family way all your life.' Well, I had two or three works in here that publishers asked me to write and, therefore, I took time away, but I decided in 18--in 19--see, I'm back in 1890s. But in 1995, I said, `I'm going to finish the work.' I had a sabbatical, and the next--these next two and a half years, I finished most of this work.
LAMB: At TCU, Texas Christian, what do you teach?
PROF. PROCTER: I teach American progressivism, teach Texas history, the American West. I was at Harvard and had Frederick Merck, who was the--who followed Frederick Jackson Turner...
LAMB: You went to school at Harvard?
PROF. PROCTER: Yes. I got my doctorate there.
LAMB: And what did you study at Harvard?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, I studied this period of history--studied all of American history, but I wrote a biography on another man by the name of Johnny Reagan, who was from Texas, and the Civil War, Interstate Commerce Act. So in some ways, I knew this period fairly well because of Interstate Commerce Act, in 1887, and Reagan lived into the early 1900s as well. So this has been my period of expertise.
LAMB: Where are you from originally?
PROF. PROCTER: I am from Texas.
PROF. PROCTER: Temple--born in Temple but raised in Austin, Texas, and have been in Ft. Worth for a number of years.
LAMB: Where did you get your interest in education and learning and the interest in a PhD?
PROF. PROCTER: My father was superintendent of schools at Temple Texas and founded Temple Junior College in 1930--during the Depression. He was a Latin scholar. Therefore, I had to take six years of Latin and understood it fairly well, but not as well as he did. But my mother was a schoolteacher as well, and they pushed me toward education as long as well as athletics and, therefore, as--see, since I had said I wasn't gonna be a coach--I started to be a coach, and when I decided that that wasn't the place I wanted to be, luckily, I decided that I would be a college professor. Kind of a sophomoric way I approached it, but--in a way I'm very pleased it turned out. And, therefore, I went to Harvard and got my doctorate in American history.
LAMB: Now you write a lot in here about William Randolph Hearst's experience at Harvard...
PROF. PROCTER: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...and there's a picture in the book you have of Mr. Hearst there on the left-hand side...
PROF. PROCTER: Yes.
LAMB: ...or, I guess, it's the right-hand side, and who's the other gentleman?
PROF. PROCTER: On my right.
LAMB: Yeah, on your ri--who's the other gentleman?
PROF. PROCTER: That's Jack Follansbee.
LAMB: And what was his experience at Harvard?
PROF. PROCTER: He became--he was rusticated--rusticated. That's the...
LAMB: What's that mean?
PROF. PROCTER: That's the nice-- that's the sophisticated term, I suppose, for being kicked out.
LAMB: Why was he kicked out?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, in--he was a--he knew enough to get by. He was very bright, but he learned the methods--the first year, he did extremely well and then he became more social, more prominent in activities. He ran--in 1884, in his junior year, in the fall, he ran the campaign for Grover Cleveland for president in the Cambridge community and at Harvard. Faculty became aware of him. Then in the spring and the summer--late sum--late fall and spring, he became the co-editor of the Lampoon, a magazine--a humor magazine--did well on that; gave him the idea to go into journalism. But his grades suffered and, therefore, he was--because he didn't show improvement, the Harvard faculty said, `You'll be rusticated.' And he tried to get back, although a lot of the biographers said no, that he was an unreconstructed rebel, but he really tried to get back. And Mama Hearst, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, definitely talked with the president. He had--he said it'd be fine if the dean would accept it. I found several letters on this in the archives of just--of the last few years, which showed that the dean saw him and said, `You back again?'
LAMB: Did the family try to buy him a degree?
PROF. PROCTER: No, they didn't try to buy him a degree, other than the fact that they were willing to--you can't--you couldn't buy a degree from Harvard, but what you could do is that you could hire tutors and try to catch you up or go to other schools. He tried to get --to graduate with his class of '86, and if not--he tried it the next year--it'd be the class of '87--but to no avail.
LAMB: Where did he meet his wife?
PROF. PROCTER: He was at a-- he loved to go to Broadway shows. In 1897, he saw "The Girls of Paris," a Broadway show. Millicent and her--who was 16, Millicent Wilson, and her older sister, Anita, 18, were in the chorus line, "The Girls from Paris." And after that, he escorted both of them around for a number of years, until 1903, just the day before his 40th birthday and running for office, he also decided he wanted to--he needed a family, he loved Millicent and, therefore, he married her.
LAMB: What was their relationship like?
PROF. PROCTER: A very loving relationship, and it was--from 1903 to 19--through--what I've seen, through 1910, he will, in 1915, meet Marion Davies, but she was very supportive of him. Even in her interviews of later years, they were very praiseworthy and affectionate for him. And she was a good politician's wife. She would go with him on trips, be supportive. She would--they would be--Hearst was a tremendous philanthropist, and his newspapers would be helping his--he would be Mother--he would be Father Santa Claus and she'd be Mother Santa Claus and give out as many as 70,000 toys to New Yorkers on one or two nights, and she would continue in that way during all these years.
LAMB: How many Hearsts are there around today?
PROF. PROCTER: I'm not sure I could tell you. I just know there's one son of the five.
LAMB: But I mean the family--did you talk to anybody else besides the living son?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, I talked to Bunky Hearst who was the-- John Randolph Jr.--Hearst Jr. He was of great help. I talked to one of the twins, who is now dead. The other--the one twin that's dead. I talked to Bill Jr. for some 30 or 45 minutes.
LAMB: How many of the Hearsts that were the sons of either George Hearst or William Randolph Hearst are living off the family money that was made back in those copper and gold mines?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, the copper mine--the copper mine is--was sold in 1895 for $7 1/2 million.
LAMB: But I mean the money of that that came off of that...
PROF. PROCTER: Well...
LAMB: ...and then off of the publications.
PROF. PROCTER: ...they had the Hearst Foundation. It was my understanding that the five families receive a percentage of the overall amount, which is of--tremendous millions upon millions of dollars today, but they will receive--I'm trying to think if it was 10 percent to each one, but they--somewhere--they receive somewhere between--each family receives something like $10 million today, but at one time it was $2 million, but I don't know exactly how much it is right now.
LAMB: When you were reading those newspapers over the years, at what point or points did you say, `This is really something'? And when did he use the newspapers the most to help further his own interests?
PROF. PROCTER: I would look at the Spanish-American War. He's the one that--there was a De Lome letter--he was the only one that would print the De Lome letter 'cause he didn't need--he was a Spanish minister--Enrique de Lome was a Spanish minister to the United States and criticized McKinley. Front page, he would have his comment on De Lome. He would try to generate war. Five--six days later, when this story was about to die down, the blowing up of the battleship Maine, and from that time on, it was the most exciting historical fiction I have ever read.
LAMB: What's this front page right here you have in the book?
PROF. PROCTER: That's the day after the blowing of the battleship Maine. He says $50,000--if that's the one--he's offering $50,000--which was like Hearst. He'd offer rewards--$55,000 for the perpetrators who sank those glorious sailors, American sailors, 260 sailors dead and four officers. But I would read through--I would read through daily and I'd say, `Did that happen? Did that happen? That didn't happen.' You know, I'd go through like that, but I said, `Isn't it exciting?' I would be reading--the war began in 18--the war would begin--Congress would approve of it on April the 25th, 1898. And during that period, day or two before that, I would read Dewey--headlines--huge headlines would say ‘Dewey On Way To Manila.’ And I said, `Oh, no, no.' I'd be caught up in it, `You can't say that. The Spanish can read this.' And then it'd say next day ‘Dewey Will Attack The Philippines Soon.’ And I'd say, `No, no,' and then I look there, it would have a correspondent--journal correspondent with the Asiatic fleet, and I realized he didn't have a correspondent with the Asiatic fleet. Of course, he guessed right in that case, that they were going to Manila, 'cause they would attack on May 1, 1898, and destroy the Spanish fleet.
But in that same period, he said--he would say ‘US Army On Way To Cuba, in May.’ That didn't happen until June. So he guessed wrong then. But again, it was exciting history--fiction, rather--not history, but historical fiction.
LAMB: Now what about this headline you told us earlier, he did not get elected mayor. And this is in the New York American.
PROF. PROCTER: This was in November 1905. It was the first time he combated Tammany Hall. They--he thought he had the election won, and the first headline out, the first news of that morning, the first morning paper had that in there, ‘W.R. Hearst Elected Mayor.’ And then they found out that even with this close race, where there were stuffed ballot boxes, any number of his people beaten at the polls with clubs and things of this sort, intimidated. Even so, they thought he had it won. And then there were two boxes that were in his home district--had about 8,000 votes that he thought he would carry by 3:1, which would mean something like 6,000 to 2,000, and he lost by 3,400. They happened to be some way lost in the North River there in Manhattan, right there off the Hudson River, just happened to be dropped away by the Tammany election judges.
LAMB: Who was Henry "Pyrotechnist" Pain?
PROF. PROCTER: Hearst loved fireworks. When he was a kid, he loved fireworks. And when he came to New York, whenever he would have--Hearst knew the American people loved parades, and so every time that he would have a parade or he would have a political function, he would also want to have fireworks. And this was the foremost pyrotechnist in the country, I suppose. He would have unbelievable fireworks displays that would last two, three, four hours, bombs bursting in the air, all the things of this sort. At the time of the--when he would celebrate--Hearst would celebrate Dewey's coming, he would have a full area of fireworks or candles that would light up and show Dewey's battleship, the Columbia. He would-- they would have the sinking of the Maine in that, and then bombs--and then you would have skyrockets going in all directions. He was a fantastic expert. You know, we'll see in Washington, you'll see on the Fourth of July maybe an hour and a half, two hours; his would go three, four, five hours.
LAMB: When was it that Pain killed 18 people?
PROF. PROCTER: It was at one of these--in one of these parades that they were having in 1903, and some way or other, a bomb burst, exploded unexpectedly, and it set off others in this parade, and killed these individuals. Hearst would later--there would be suits against him and be charged and say, `You haven't paid this claim,' but he didn't think he was responsible.
LAMB: He drummed his fingers--meaning William Randolph Hearst...
PROF. PROCTER: Yeah.
LAMB: ...nervously. What did that mean?
PROF. PROCTER: He had tremendous energy. He not only would—before, when he was young, he was first at the San Francisco...
PROF. PROCTER: ...Examiner--thank you--and also when he first took over at the New York Journal, when he would get an idea, he would drum his fingers and then he might--when he'd get the idea that he wanted to pursue, then he would click his heels--do a little dance and kick his heels, and they said, `Ah, now the chief has gotten the idea. Now we're gonna proceed,' and then it would be this insane asylum run by the mad overseer, or as one other said, `It was pandemonium with direction.'
LAMB: You said in 1904 that he was as well-known as anybody in America except for Theodore Roosevelt. How could you figure that out from your reading?
PROF. PROCTER: Well, Theodore Roosevelt surely as president, but as much as anyone else through the readings, Hearst could not be--if anything else, you could not ignore him. He was controversial. He ran--across the country, he was second--he had these five largest newspapers, always with Hearst on them. Everything you would find--I found in one newspaper where there'd be eight--in the New York American in 1904, 18 times they would have Hearst--W.R. Hearst, W.R. Hearst, Hearst this or Hearst that. And because of the AP wire, he was that well-known. You could see how other--Democrats as well as Republicans--he would never--he wouldn't be elected, but they feared him. They feared him--or that he was a potential enemy or a potential candidate. And his papers made news. He was the greatest publisher in this country in this period of time and the greatest communicator as far as journalism was concerned.
LAMB: You say that near the end there he had, at the height, 28 newspapers in 19 states--or 19 cities.
PROF. PROCTER: Yes. I don't remember exactly how many cities, but there were 28 newspapers.
LAMB: Was he the largest at that point?
PROF. PROCTER: Yes, by far.
LAMB: And what's the second book gonna be about?
PROF. PROCTER: Gonna finish his life. I'm gonna finish his life.
LAMB: But, I mean, what would it be concentrating on? You say that he didn't do much journalism in the last part of his life.
PROF. PROCTER: Well, he will continue until 1919, then he moved to California, and then it's a whole different life. He'll begin building San Simeon. He would--it's estimated that over the next 30 years, he would spend $1 million a year on San Simeon, on collections or putting valuable-- his valuables in the castle. He would go into the movie business, motion pictures, which was really not--was not his forte. He would...
LAMB: Was Pathe News his?
PROF. PROCTER: Yes. Mm-hmm.
LAMB: Back to the politics of it, you say that the Journal...
PROF. PROCTER: Yeah.
LAMB: ...meaning the New York Journal, had a national policy...
PROF. PROCTER: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...and I wanna just list them and ask you what that would be today. Who would fit in this category today politically? Construction of a Nicaraguan canal was one of their policies...
PROF. PROCTER: Yes.
LAMB: ...annexation of Hawaii, the maintenance of a mighty Navy...
PROF. PROCTER: Right.
LAMB: ...the acquisition of strategic bases in the Caribbean and the establishment of great national universities at West Point and Annapolis.
PROF. PROCTER: Yes, and later, within three or four months, he will also say, `Keep the Philippines.' He'll also keep the Philippines.
LAMB: What does that mean-- what political label would you put on that today? Is there any obvious label? Those are all--almost all of 'em international except for the great universities.
PROF. PROCTER: Yes, they had--he would also have an internal policy, which would be his domestic policies for the United States, like direct election of senators, great...
LAMB: Public ownership of public franchises...
PROF. PROCTER: That's right.
LAMB: ...graduated income tax...
PROF. PROCTER: Right.
LAMB: ...national, state and municipal improvement of the public school system.
PROF. PROCTER: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: What does that mean, though?
PROF. PROCTER: He was always for the public schools and he wanted improvement. This would identify--this was partly local--state and local because he wanted to--if education is the guardian genius of democracy, then he surely advocated that for better schools and better teachers, and also he would identify his papers with the local scene and local sport and being part of the municipal aspects.
LAMB: One of his other internal policies was the destruction of criminal trust.
PROF. PROCTER: Yes.
LAMB: What's that about?
PROF. PROCTER: These are huge corporations. You were talking about Rockefeller's Standard Oil, Carnegie's steel company that then became Morgan's U.S. Steel in 1901, but...
LAMB: Would that put him in the Clinton Justice Department antitrust division right now? Would he like what they're doing over there with...
PROF. PROCTER: Yes, he surely would. If they will break up the trust--in many ways right now, we're seeing with Gates and Microsoft and things of this sort --and where you have the different--these huge combines combining even more, mergers. He would say, `Do away with the criminal trust, those that infringe upon the rights of the American people,' but then he had, again, about regulate other trusts so there'd be greater freedom, which is a progressive idea--definitely a progressive idea.
LAMB: You say he was an enemy of corporate greed, arrogant wealth and of his own social set.
PROF. PROCTER: Yes.
LAMB: How did he get along then with his own social set?
PROF. PROCTER: He was a man alone, as far as that goes. He didn't...
LAMB: Did he have any friends?
PROF. PROCTER: What?
LAMB: Did he have any friends?
PROF. PROCTER: Yes, but they were not necessarily of that set. He was mainly in the newspapers or he carried on his own friends or his own people with him and not--but he was not--he was a rebel. He was a rebel against his own upper class.
LAMB: When you were doing this book and researching it, how many places did you go Hearst?
PROF. PROCTER: I visited--which, at the time, no one else had done--I had visited his--with George and Phoebe Hearst there at the Merrimack Valley.
LAMB: Mother and father.
PROF. PROCTER: Mother and--yes, mother and father, but...
LAMB: Where is the Merrimack Valley?
PROF. PROCTER: It's about 50 to 55 miles south-southwest of--I'm pointing--there's my map-- of St. Louis, a very rural area. Phoebe wanted to get out of the--she wanted to be anywhere except the Merrimack Valley and as far away as possible from there. I visited there, collecting the data. I visited Wyntoon, which was the Bavarian village there; in northern California, Davis Mountains, which is just beautiful. You'd love that. I was at San Simeon at least four or five times, mainly in the archives, while my wife would visit the other areas, surely in San Francisco and New York a number of times. I did not go to the Babicora Ranch--not there, but they lost that in 1917.
LAMB: That was the one in Mexico.
PROF. PROCTER: In Chihuahua.
LAMB: And you did dedicate the book to Phoebe and Ben. Is Phoebe's the same name as George Hearst's wife.
PROF. PROCTER: Yes, it is. Yeah. My wife noticed that and I noticed that.
PROF. PROCTER: Phoebe and--my wife and my son, my two favorite people.
LAMB: What does your son Ben do?
PROF. PROCTER: He's an attorney here in Washington, DC.
LAMB: How long's he done that?
PROF. PROCTER: Some 12 years now. He worked for Jim Wright when he was speaker and also when he was majority leader...
LAMB: And what...
PROF. PROCTER: ...for some 10 or--What?--12 years, and then got his degree from Georgetown; has been an attorney here ever since.
LAMB: And where did you meet your wife, Phoebe?
PROF. PROCTER: Met her in Austin. Met her in Austin when I was going to the University of Texas, undergraduate, and she was about five or six years younger than I was--I'd like to say 10, but five or six years younger, and been with her ever since.
LAMB: And when is the second book gonna be out?
PROF. PROCTER: I'm planning at least no more than four years, maybe less, but I'm going full bolt on it--Is that the correct term, `full bolt'?--beginning in September.
LAMB: This is the cover of the first edition of a two-volume set on William Randolph Hearst by our guest, Ben Procter. These are the early years, up until 1910. Thank you very much for joining us.
PROF. PROCTER: You're a delight to be with.
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