William Randolph Hearst Jr. said he always lived in the shadow of his newspaper magnate father although he went on to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter himself.
Hearst, who had a history of cardiac disease, died Friday of a heart attack. He was 85.
“Bill Hearst’s long and illustrious career in journalism extended from the brash newsrooms of the 1920s to the computerized news operations of the 1990s,” said Frank A. Bennack Jr., president and chief executive of Hearst Corp., where Hearst was a director.
The Hearst media empire includes, via Hearst/ABC-Viacom Entertainment Services, stakes in cable channels Lifetime, Arts & Entertainment and ESPN. Hearst also owns six television stations and six radio stations. Its flagship paper is the San Francisco Examiner.
Hearst was the second of five sons born to William Randolph and Millicent Willson Hearst.
For nearly 40 years he wrote a Sunday editorial column called Editor’s Report.
He lobbied for a strong defense, pushed for a modern highway system and journeyed the globe to interview world leaders.
He enjoyed friendships with Hollywood stars John Wayne and Bing Crosby and the camaraderie of New York nightclub life. With Howard Hughes he shared a passion for airplanes and fast cars.
Hearst sat on the board of directors of the privately held Hearst Corp. but neither he nor his brothers ever inherited the leadership mantle of their legendary father. That role went to outsiders.
Hearst, born in New York City on Jan. 27, 1908, served as a war correspondent in Europe from 1943 to 1945.
Hearst continued his father’s editorial crusade against communism and supported Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting tactics even when he had been largely discredited and censured.
Hearst was twice divorced before marrying Austine McDonnell, a society gossip columnist, in 1948.
The couple had two sons, William Randolph III and Austin. His wife died in June 1991.
William Randolph Hearst III became publisher of the San Francisco Examiner in 1984 at age 35.
Austin Hearst is VP, special projects, Hearst Entertainment in New York.