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CBN.com Scott Ross [reporting]: What’s it like to be the granddaughter of legendary newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst? Well, let’s ask Victoria Hearst. She knows best.
Victoria Hearst: I was aware especially in school when they spoke about history and spoke about William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper publisher, that’s [me]. From then on I was known as the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst.
Ross: And your siblings, how many and they’re all sisters?
Hearst: We’re all girls -- five girls, and I’m the youngest.
Ross: Memories of childhood were positive, negative, mixed?
Hearst: There was some dynamics with mom and dad that were difficult. Dad was a difficult father. In his family, there were five boys, and WR Hearst was not a great father. He was very critical; he was emotionally absent; he was a tough father. So that kind of got passed down. So for a long time my relationship with my dad was up and down. If he was upset with you, he’d say whatever was on his mind.
Scott Ross [reporting]: All five daughters of Catherine Campbell and Randolph Apperson Hearst were raised catholic and they attended parochial school. Victoria fondly remembers her grade school conversations with God, how she once desired to be a nun and how life radically changed in 1974… Victoria’s sister, Patty, was kidnapped by a terrorist group called the Simbianese Liberation Army, or SLA. Patty’s alleged association with a bank robbery organized by the SLA landed her in federal prison. Victoria was jolted into action.
Hearst: After she got convicted, my sisters formed a movement called “Free Patty.” We figured the press and the prosecutors lied and put her in prison, and we’re getting her out. So to make a long story short we ended up with a national campaign.
Scott Ross [reporting]: Even during the Hearst sisters’ push to free Patty, Victoria was looking to the future. She wanted a career in show business.
Ross: That’s where you began to aspire towards things in show business? Singing, acting and dancing? Why?
Hearst: Yeah, singing, acting and dancing. I always loved it. Yep.
Scott Ross [reporting]: So Victoria did what most aspiring singers, actors and dancers do. She moved to Los Angeles. Around the same time, Patty’s sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter.
Ross: It was in this period that you met a man that affected your life?
Hearst: Yes. He was an actor and a director. He was tall and handsome. Of course he moved into my condo in LA and then we got an apartment in New York. We were going to be the big show business couple that would show everybody how it’s done. We loved each other, and it did not work out the way that I thought it would.
Ross: Did he want to get married?
Hearst: Oh yeah. He basically said we were engaged although he conveniently never was able to buy me an engagement ring.
Ross: Did that finally come to a head though?
Hearst: It came to a head when I was so miserable and so unhappy. He had gone to LA to work on a project. I was so miserable, so depressed, and couldn’t get out of bed. One night I was lying on the floor in the New York apartment in tears.
Scott Ross [reporting]: Victoria’s desperate measure was to confess to a friend that she had hit rock bottom. Her friend, who was taking care of Victoria’s Colorado home at the time, simply let Victoria know that there would be a Bible waiting for her when she arrived.
Hearst: I got on the airplane, and you’re weeping all the way from New York to Colorado.
Ross: You were broken hearted.
Hearst: Oh awful. It was just so horrible. I got to the house, put my bags down in the entry, went right to the kitchen and the first thought on my heart was I need to hear Jesus. I picked up that Bible and started in Matthew 1:1. For that whole five days I read and cried and read and cried.
Hearst: Well, I always knew that the Lord was in my life, kind of on my shoulder. I started to stray off I always knew His hand was there to bring me back. But I wasn’t living my life for Him. I thought it was okay to live with a guy.
Scott Ross [reporting]: The days spent reading the Bible prepared Victoria for the next step. A Christian television show lead her the rest of the way.
Hearst: So I knelt down on the floor in my bedroom, and I said the sinner’s prayer with them.
Scott Ross [reporting]: From that day on, Victoria decided to live her life for Jesus Christ. Over the past 10 years, she’s done just that. Victoria purchased and restored this building in Ridgeway, Colorado, where she opened a Christian center and coffeehouse. Down the street, where the movie True Grit was filmed, she owns and operates a Christian bookstore. Victoria’s also involved in prison fellowship ministry and she’s been to Israel many times to help out the town of Ariel. In spite of all her accomplishments, Victoria’s greatest satisfaction is knowing her father, Randolph Apperson Hearst, had accepted Jesus Christ and become a real father to her before his death.
Hearst: I said, “I love you Dad.” He said, “I love you too honey. I just said the wrong things.” Every time I’d think about my dad, it was bad stuff. So from that moment when he said that, it was like God took a big eraser and wiped the slate clean.
Scott Ross [reporting]: At peace with God... that’s how Victoria would describe her life today. That’s only true because. . .
Hearst: …The one scripture I stood on was there’s nothing impossible with God.
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