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Patricia Campbell Hearst (born February 20, 1954), now known as Patricia Hearst Shaw, is an American newspaper heiress and occasional actress.

The granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, she gained notoriety in 1974 when, following her kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), she ultimately joined her captors in furthering their cause. Apprehended after having taken part in a bank robbery with other SLA members, Hearst was imprisoned for almost two years before her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter. She was later granted a presidential pardon by President Bill Clinton.


Hearst was born in Sacramento, California, the third of five daughters of Randolph Apperson Hearst and Catherine Wood Campbell. She grew up primarily in the wealthy San Francisco suburb of Hillsborough, California She attended Crystal Springs Uplands School for Girls in Hillsborough and the Santa Catalina School for Girls in Monterey, California. Among her few close friends she counted Patricia Tobin, whose family founded the Hibernia Bank, a branch of which Hearst would later aid in robbing.

Kidnapping and her time with the SLA


Patty Hearst (right) during the April 1974 Hibernia bank robbery.


Patty Hearst yelling commands at bank customers. It was later determined that she had been yelling, "I'm Tania. Up against the wall, motherfuckers."[1]

On February 4, 1974, the 19-year-old Hearst was kidnapped from the Berkeley, California, apartment she shared with her fiancé Steven Weed, by a left-wing, urban guerrilla group called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). When the attempt to swap Hearst for jailed SLA members failed, the SLA demanded that the captive's family distribute $70 worth of food to every needy Californian -- an operation that would cost an estimated $400 million. In response, Hearst's father arranged the immediate donation of $6 million worth of food to the poor of the Bay Area. After the distribution of food, the SLA refused to release Hearst because they deemed the food to have been of poor quality. (In a subsequent tape recording released to the press, Hearst commented that her father could have done better.)

On April 15, 1974, she was photographed wielding an assault rifle while robbing the Sunset District branch of the Hibernia Bank at 1450 Noriega Street in San Francisco. Later communications from her were issued under the pseudonym Tania (from the nickname of guerrilla Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider) and asserted that she was committed to the goals of the SLA. A warrant was issued for her arrest and in September 1975, she was arrested in a San Francisco apartment with other SLA members.

In her trial, which commenced on January 15, 1976, Hearst's attorney, F. Lee Bailey, claimed that she had been blindfolded, imprisoned in a narrow closet and physically and sexually abused. The claim that her actions were the result of a concerted brainwashing program was central to her defense. (Hearst's actions have also been attributed to Stockholm syndrome, in which hostages sympathize with the aims of their captors.) Bailey also argued that she had been coerced or intimidated into taking part in the bank robbery.

Legal analysts and Hearst herself later said that Bailey did a poor job defending her. He gave very short and weak closing arguments. Hearst was convicted of bank robbery on March 25, 1976. Her seven-year prison term was eventually commuted by President of the United States Jimmy Carter, and Hearst was released from prison on February 1, 1979, having served only twenty-two months. She was granted a full pardon by President Bill Clinton on January 20, 2001, the final day of his presidency.

Family life

After her release from prison, Hearst married her former bodyguard, Bernard Shaw. She now lives with her husband and two daughters in Wilton, Connecticut.

Hearst's daughters are model Lydia Hearst-Shaw and Gillian Hearst-Shaw. Her niece is model Amanda Hearst.

Documentaries about Hearst

  • Hearst's 1982 autobiography Every Secret Thing was made into the biopic Patty Hearst by Paul Schrader in 1988, with Natasha Richardson portraying Hearst.
  • Robert Stone in 2004 directed Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst, which focuses on the media frenzy surrounding the Symbionese Liberation Army, and includes new footage and interviews. (The film was released in some countries under the title Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army.)

Material produced by Hearst

  • Dissatisfied with other documentaries made on the subject, Hearst produced a special for the Travel Channel entitled Secrets of San Simeon with Patricia Hearst in which she took viewers inside her grandfather's mansion Hearst Castle, providing unprecedented access to the property. (A video and DVD were later released of the special.)
  • Hearst co-authored a novel with Cordelia Frances Biddle titled Murder at San Simeon (Scribner, 1996), based upon the death of Thomas Ince on her grandfather's yacht.

Acting roles

Hearst has cultivated a career as an actress.

  • Her notoriety intersected with the criminal obsessions and camp sensibilities of filmmaker John Waters, who has used Hearst in numerous small roles in films including Cry-Baby, Serial Mom, Pecker, Cecil B. DeMented, and A Dirty Shame.
  • Hearst appeared in the films Bio-Dome and Second Best.
  • Hearst supplied the voice for the character Haffa Dozen, an ex-stripper appearing on the October 19, 2005 episode of the Sci-Fi Channel's animated TV series Tripping the Rift.[2]
  • She appeared in an episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete as Mrs. Krechmar, the nicest housewife in the world.
  • Notably playing against type, Hearst played a crack-addicted prostitute on an episode of the comedic Son of the Beach.
  • Hearst's voice was used as a caller in the Frasier episode, Frasier Crane's Day Off in 1994.
  • She appeared as Anthony Clark's mother on the sitcom Boston Common.
  • She appeared in an episode of Veronica Mars portraying a woman who had faked her own kidnapping.

Pop culture references


  • Gilda Radner portrayed Hearst in two sketches on Saturday Night Live in 1975 and 1976.
  • Gilmore Girls Season 2, Episode 17, "Dead Uncles and Vegetables,"
  • Gilmore Girls season 5, episode 7, "You Jump, I Jump, Jack."
  • "The Knight in White Satin Armor" of the The Sopranos
  • "The Incredible Mr. Brisby" of the Adult Swim show The Venture Bros.
  • "Penultimate Fighting" of the Adult Swim show Frisky Dingo
  • Law & Order season 6 episode "Hot Pursuit"
  • 2005 episode of Will & Grace
  • 1996 episode of Seinfeld, "The Checks"
  • 2005 episode of The Simpsons, "Pranksta Rap"
  • 2007 episode of "Veronica Mars" as a thinly veiled version of herself, Selma Hearst Rose.

Pop music

  • Claire Lynch song "Stranger Things Have Happened" (written by Henry Hipkens) from her album Love Light.
  • "Young Shields", a song by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
  • "Tania" by Camper Van Beethoven from their album Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart
  • The Misfits' song "She"
  • Oingo Boingo songs "Don't Blame Patty, She's just a Poor Misunderstood Teenager" and "You Got Your Baby Back."
  • Sarah Silverman's 2006 song "I Love You More"
  • Smoke or Fire's song "The Patty Hearst Syndrome".
  • Stereo Total's song "Patty Hearst", from their 2007 album "Paris Berlin".
  • SLA photo on the cover of the Chainsaw Kittens' album Pop Heiress.
  • Hall & Oates hit "Rich Girl" is mistakenly assumed to be about Patty Hearst[3]
  • Patti Smith's debut single featured the monologue "Sixty Days," dedicated to Hearst. Smith also referenced Hearst in her version of Hey Joe.
  • Sex Vid's song "Tania"
  • Warren Zevon's 1978 song "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner"
  • Tuscadero's song, Tonia.
  • Radiohead's album art for their album OK Computer included phrases from Hearst's ransom note.
  • David Wilcox's song "Barbie" from the album "East Asheville Hardware"


  • Boulton, David (1975). The Making of Tania Hearst, London: New English Library. ISBN 0-450-02351-6.
  • Hearst, Patricia Campbell; with Alvin Moscow (1988). Patty Hearst: Her Own Story, New York: Avon. ISBN 0-380-70651-2. First published in 1982 as Every Secret Thing.
  • McLellan, Vin; and Paul Avery (1977). The Voices of Guns: The Definitive and Dramatic Story of the Twenty-two-month Career of the Symbionese Liberation Army, One of the Most Bizarre Chapters in the History of the American Left, New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-11738-5.
  • Weed, Steven; with Scott Swanton (1976). My Search for Patty Hearst, New York: Crown. ISBN 0-517-52579-8.


  1. (2007). Famous Pictures Magazine - Patty Hearst. (HTML) Famous Pictures Magazine. URL accessed on 2007-07-15.
  2. NY Daily News
  3. Moustache-free to Be You and Me

Fictional accounts

External links