Multilectual Daily Online Magazine focusing on World Architecture, Travel, Photography, Interior Design, Vintage and Contemporary Fiction, Political cartoons, Craft Beer, All things Espresso, International coffee/ cafe's, occasional centrist politics and San Diego's Historic North Park by award-winning journalist Tom Shess
Sunday, January 20, 2019
SUNDAY REVIEW / MEDIA MOGUL HEARST’S FAVORITE BLOODHOUND
BOOK SIGNING: JAN. 26; 11 am; La
Mesa Library, 8074 Allison Ave., La Mesa CA.
The following is an excerpt from San Diego novelist
Roger Conlee’s “After the Wind.” Following the death of newspaper mogul William
Randolph Hearst, ace reporter and editor Jake Weaver finds himself a murder
suspect while trying to help Hearst’s lover Marion Davies receive her fair
share of the old man’s fortune. The effort also puts Weaver sideways with Bill
Hearst Junior, his soon-to-be boss. Meanwhile, Weaver’s friend, young Marine
Corps officer Kenny Nielsen, goes into battle in the Korean War while his wife
Claudia seems to be paying more attention to her professional ambitions than to
him from me,” cried the hysterical voice. “They stole him from me.”
recognized the voice on the phone. Marion Davies. One-time actress and longtime
mistress of William Randolph Hearst, the owner of Weaver’s newspaper, the Los
whom, Miss Davies?” Jake knew the answer. There’d been a death watch for a week
now at the Hearst mansion on Beverly Drive.
He died today.” Sobbing, having trouble getting the words out.
sorry, Miss Davies.”
asleep upstairs, Mr. Weaver. I’d been sitting up with Willie for so long, for
so many days, the doctor insisted I take a sedative. When I woke up the place
was quiet. I asked the nurse where he was. She said he was dead. His body was
gone, whoosh, just like that. They took him. He belonged to me and I to him. And
now he was gone.”
that Hearst’s son, William Junior, had been staying in the guest house along
with Richard Berlin, president of the Hearst Corporation, part of the death
said they told her not to bother me, not to even wake me up when the hearse
came to take him off to the mortuary.” That’s really cruel, Jake thought
Miss Davies. He felt her pain like a nail to the chest. He himself had visited
Hearst three days ago. Unable to get out of bed, wasted away to about 120
pounds, the old man had feebly placed a hand on Jake’s head as if bestowing a
“You . . .
were always . . .” The words coming slowly, so softly Jake had to strain to
hear them. “. . . my favorite bloodhound.”
that, Jake couldn’t help the tear that began to trickle onto his cheek. He’d
worked for this American journalism giant for fourteen years. He’d covered a
war for him, risked his life in Nazi Europe for him, led a crusade against the underworld
even get to say goodbye, Miss Davies? I’m sorrier that I can say.”
“What can I
do, Mr. Weaver?” Pitiful desperation in her voice. “What can I possibly do?”
that Bill Hearst, Richard Berlin, and Millicent Hearst, who’d refused all these
years to grant her husband a divorce, would fight Davies for control of the
Hearst fortune. His will had been vague on that, or so he’d heard from
newspaper gossips. He also was aware of California’s community property laws.
Davies had been the old man’s faithful common-law wife for three decades.
There’d never been any doubt that her love for him was real. She was no gold-digger.
Miss Davies had made a lot of money in Hollywood and had invested it well.
She’d even lent Hearst a million dollars during the Depression before his
empire’s remarkable recovery during World War II.
that now she could get royally stiffed on this.
He had been
the Herald-Express military writer for nine years but recently was bumped up to
assistant managing editor. He still kept his hand in, though, writing the
occasional news story.
humbled that the spunky one-time actress had turned to him in her desperation.
Over the years they’d developed a rapport and she’d sometimes asked his advice
on small things such as what to give W.R. for his birthday.
that the Hearst sons and their mother Millicent had been circling for days
waiting for the old man to breathe his last. Now the birds of prey had pounced.
what I can do, Miss Davies,” Jake said. “I’ll see what I can do.”
Author Roger Conlee, left, at a recent signing session for his newest novel "After the Wind."