June 2, 2007. Before leaving San Simeon and continuing with our long drive south to Los Angeles, we decided to visit Hearst Castle, a vast, vast estate used to be owned by one of America’s most affluent, controversial and influential aristocrats, William Randolph Hearst, who made a vast fortune with his controversial newspapers and tabloids.
Now, I didn’t know who the hell William Hearst was, but once our tour guide started narrating his story, it all seemed very familiar. I later realized that this is where Citizen Cane, the quintissential Film 100 movie for film students in UP, is based. And Hearst Castle is what Xanadu alludes to.
Whew, it was really astounding. This guy spending billions of dollars during the period of depression in America for a mansion in what was then in the middle of nowhere in central California, his mansion with hoards of antiques and fixtures imported from all over the world. He also had his own zoo and orchard. When you think about how much was spent building this private estate in the middle of nowhere, you’d be astounded.
The estate has been donated by the Hearsts to the state of California, and is now a state landmark and a monument open for public tours.