Millicent Veronica <I>Willson</I> Hearst

Millicent Veronica Willson Hearst

New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 5 Dec 1974 (aged 92)
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA
Plot Chestnut Hill Plot, Sec 125 (Hearst Mausoleum)
Memorial ID 7418845 · View Source
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Socialite, Philanthropist. She was the wife of William Randolph Hearst, who for half of the twentieth century, was the publisher of Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and Motor magazines and a dozen newspapers along with financing numerous Hollywood movies. Coming from a family that performed in Vaudeville acts, she and her older sister performed at Herald Square Theater on Broadway in 1897 as the “bicycle girls” in Edward Rice's “The Girl From Paris.” As a beautiful, dark-haired sixteen-year-old, she caught the eye of the thirty-four-year-old Hearst while she was performing on stage. Their first dates were chaperoned. After dating her for about four years, the couple married in New York City at Grace Protestant Episcopal Church on April 28, 1903; she would have been 21 years old the following July. She was naive and lacked the training of being born in society. With Hearst beginning his term in the House of Representatives for New York's 11th District, she became the young wife of an aspiring politician. Starting in April 1904, they had five sons, with the youngest being a set of twins born December 2, 1915. Besides being a devoted mother, she served outside of her home in many ways. In 1915, she was a member of the New York State Commission for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition acting as the official hostess at the New York Pavilion during the exposition. During World War I and World War II, she supported the military with time and funds as chairman of committees which provide entertainment in canteens for thousands of servicemen, held patriotic rallies and encouraged military enlistment. Also, during the wars, she helped the indigents with food and warmth in the cold New York winters. She served on committees involved with rebuilding France and relief to the French orphans. In 1920, she gave support to Army nurses who were seeking military officers' ranks. In 1921, she established stands offering free milk to infants in the neighborhoods of Hamilton Fish Park and the Lower East Side of New York City. In 1926 these stands closed when the Free Milk Fund for Babies was started with her being the largest benefactor; this worthy project continued for decades. During the Great Depression, she was involved with several projects such as proper care for handicapped children, employment for females, the New York Women's Trade League, the Democratic National Committee, the “Evening Journal-New York Journal” Christmas Fund, and the Village Welfare of Port Washington, New York. After her mother-in-law's death, the family relocated to California about 1919 where a new home was being built on property her husband had inherited. With Julia Morgan being the architect, she helped Morgan with the design of their grand European-style San Simeon, California home, Hearst Castle, which had 56 bedrooms on 25,000 acres with gardens, pools, and tennis courts. Today, the mansion is open to public tours and since 1976, been listed on the National Historic Land Mark as the “Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument.” As the mansion's hostess, she greeted to a list of well-known guests from Hollywood stars to United States presidents. In 1926, she left California for New York City leaving her husband who was intimately and very publicly involved since 1919 with a blond Hollywood starlet, Marion Davies . Davies documented her relationship with Hearst in her memoirs, “The Time We Had.” Even though she had good reasons, there would be no divorce; her sons were very supportive and loyal to their mother. Although the couple maintained separate residences for the rest of their marriage, she did return, especially in the early years, to Hearst Castle for special events such as being the hostess in September of 1929 when Winston Churchill visited. She built a successful life of her own without her husband, and as “Mrs. William Randolph Hearst”, she often represented the Hearst publications while in New York City. After her husband's death, she was his widow for twenty-three years, a generous philanthropist, a gracious hostess and a devoted mother to her sons, and by the time of her death, the grandmother to 15, great-grandmother to 13, and great-great-grandmother to two. Photos prove that her chorus-girl beauty aged very gracefully. Upon her death, headlines in the New York Times read, “Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Widow of Publisher, Dead at 92.”

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Richard McGhee
  • Added: 6 May 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7418845
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Millicent Veronica Willson Hearst (16 Jul 1882–5 Dec 1974), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7418845, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .