Weird History

The Golden Age, History, And Secrets Of Hearst Castle, Hollywood's Party Pad

Of all the places celebrities partied during Hollywood's Golden Age, one of the most popular was more than four hours north of Tinseltown. Movie stars and others among Hollywood's most famous drinkers often attended parties at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA, owned by publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst. While Hearst's enormous hillside estate may have inspired the somber epic Citizen Kane, what went on behind the walls of the real castle had a more playful and fun tone - at least until Hearst ran out of money.

Born in 1863 to parents made wealthy from mining, Hearst built his empire by first taking over the San Francisco Examiner newspaper. His paper gained popularity thanks to its sensational writing, bold headlines, and dramatic stories. Eventually, Hearst bought newspapers across the country, making him one of the wealthiest Americans of the time. One of the mogul's biggest hobbies involved the new industry of moving pictures, and Hearst befriended many of the burgeoning film stars - Hollywood's elite - inviting them to visit Hearst Castle throughout the 1920s and '30s.

In a rather unexpected celebrity will, Hearst bequeathed his property to his long-time mistress when he died in 1951, but she ultimately returned it to his family. Today, the California State Park system owns the estate and allows public visitors to share in the secrets and shenanigans of Hearst Castle history.