Patty Hearst Biography

Patty Hearst is the granddaughter of American media mogul William Randolph Hearst. This biography profiles her childhood, family, personal life, kidnapping and subsequent imprisonment.

Quick Facts

Birthday: February 20, 1954

Nationality: American

Famous: American Women Pisces Women

Sun Sign: Pisces

Age: 64 Years, 64 Year Old Females

Also Known As: Patricia Campbell Hearst, Patty Hearst Patricia Campbell Hearst Shaw Tania

Born in: San Francisco, California

Famous as: Kidnapping Victim

Height: 1.6 m

Spouse/Ex-: Bernard Shaw (m. 1979–2013)

father: Randolph Apperson Hearst

mother: Catherine Wood Campbell

children: Gillian Hearst-Shaw, Lydia Hearst

City, States, Provinces & Districts: California

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Patty Hearst is the granddaughter of American media mogul William Randolph Hearst. She became a topic of international interest in 1974, after being kidnapped from her mansion in California. She was kidnapped by a lesser-known American terrorist organization, the ‘Symbionese Liberation Army’ (SLA). A few weeks after the kidnapping, she shocked the world by announcing that she had joined the ‘SLA.’ She was allegedly involved in high-profile robberies and extortions. After an extensive chase, she was finally arrested by the ‘Federal Bureau of Investigation’ (FBI), in September 1975, and was convicted of a bank robbery. It was widely believed by the media that belonging to one of the richest families of the US, she would not be imprisoned, but they were only partially right. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison. However, the erstwhile American president, Jimmy Carter, commuted her sentence, and she was subsequently pardoned by President Bill Clinton. Patty’s case is known to be one of the most classic cases of Stockholm syndrome, in which people either fall in love or sympathize with their captors. Her antics were showcased in the American films ‘Patty Hearst’ and ‘The Radical Story of Patty Hearst.’

Patty Hearst
Childhood & Early Life
  • Patty Hearst was born as Patricia Campbell Hearst, to Randolph Apperson Hearst and Catherine Wood Campbell, in San Francisco, California, on February 20, 1954. She was the third of the five children of her parents. She was born into one of the wealthiest and most influential American families, who had strong political and financial backing. Her grandfather, William Randolph Hearst, had established one of the most powerful media and publishing organizations in the country.
  • She spent most of her childhood in Hillsborough. As a kid, she attended the ‘Crystal Springs School for Girls’ and later went to the ‘Santa Catalina School.’ After finishing high school, she enrolled at ‘Menlo College’ in California. She was soon transferred to the ‘University of California,’ Berkeley.
  • Her father was the fourth son of William Hearst, who happened to have many heirs. Patty’s father was one of the lesser-known among his siblings. This led to there being almost no security arrangements at their house and around their daughter Patty. However, as fate would have it, this turned out to be a tragic mistake, as Patty was kidnapped at 20, by a relatively unknown terrorist group.
  • At the time of her abduction, she was pursuing a degree in art history from the ‘University of California’ and was living with her fiancé, Steven Weed.
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The Kidnapping & Pursuance
  • On the evening of February 4, 1974, Patty was at her apartment at Benvenue Street, Berkley, California, with her fiancé, when she heard a knock on her door at around 9 o’clock. Unaware of what she was about to get into, she opened the door and several young men and women barged in, holding guns.
  • They beat Patty and her fiancé up and pushed her into the trunk of their car, which was parked outside, and drove off. Her fiancé panicked and informed the authorities. What seemed like a relatively simple case of kidnapping and ransom, turned out to be a very weird one.
  • Soon, it was discovered that the people behind her kidnapping belonged to the ‘SLA,’ the so-called “freedom fighters” who wanted to free America from the “capitalist economic and social system.” This radical group was headed by Donald DeFreeze, and they wanted nothing less than a guerrilla war against the American government. They had recruited young men and women from all walks of life.
  • The ‘SLA’ had been billed as a terrorist group by the American government and was deemed too small to be taken seriously. They kidnapped Hearst to gain the media exposure they desired and to bring the American attention toward themselves. They succeeded to some extent, as many leading American newspapers and news channels started reporting about the incident.
  • As the police waited for ransom calls, it turned out that the ‘SLA’ had planned a lot more than that. At first, they asked for money in exchange for her return. They also beat her up and tried to brainwash her to make her feel sympathetic toward their goals. The granddaughter of one of the most powerful men in the US could have been the poster child for their revolution.
  • On April 3, a tape came out in the open and shocked everyone. The tape, released by the ‘SLA,’ showed Patty speaking about how she understood the group’s motives and claiming that she was now one of their members. A few days later, she was seen in a surveillance-camera tape, playing an active part in a bank robbery. She was seen shouting orders to the customers and wielding a gun to cover for her ‘SLA’ comrades.
  • Following the release of the tape, the ‘FBI’ embarked on one of the most extensive search operations they had had in decades. The intricately organized structure within the ‘SLA’ and the silence from the informants made the search increasingly tough. They searched through countless safe houses which allegedly belonged to the ‘SLA,’ but they found nothing.
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  • On May 16, the ‘FBI’ followed two members of the ‘SLA’ to a safe house and a shootout broke out, killing six terrorists, including their leader, DeFreeze. Hearst, along with many other members, managed to flee the scene but was later captured in San Francisco, on September 18, 1975.
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Trial & Sentence
  • The trial commenced on January 15, 1976, and she was charged with the robbery at the Sunset District branch of the ‘Hibernia Bank.’ Hearst claimed that she was tortured and was forced to act according to the ‘SLA.’ The defense lawyers also managed to prove in court that two members of the ‘SLA’ had pointed guns at Patty, meaning that she was forced into the robbery.
  • However, the prosecution claimed that she was “a rebel in search of a cause” and that she had participated in the robbery out of her own free will. In her defense, Patty said that she was threatened to look enthusiastic during the robbery. She further accused an ‘SLA’ member of raping her. However, the prosecution lawyer tried to prove that she was in a romantic relationship with one of her captors and provided sufficient evidence regarding the same.
  • On March 20, 1976, Hearst was declared guilty of bank robbery and was also held responsible for wielding weapons of mass destruction. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison. However, she spent only 22 months behind bars, as President Jimmy Carter commuted her prison term. What played a big role in her temporary freedom from prison was her support to the police which aided them in tracking down a few ‘SLA’ members.
  • President Bill Clinton too sympathized with her, and she was pardoned in January 2001, which also happened to be Bill’s last day in office.
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Life after Freedom
  • Patty Hearst married Bernard Lee Shaw in 1979. Bernard was one of the police officers from her security team, which had protected her when she was on bail. The couple had two children and remained together until Bernard’s death in 2013.
  • Patty Hearst’s case was highly publicized by the media and highlighted one of the major challenges before the American society. It showcased the corruption of the American youth, who constantly look for a cause to fight for, and proved how the youth were prone to brainwashing.
  • One of the most high-profile cases of kidnapping and supposedly Stockholm syndrome, her kidnapping case became the subject of the 1988 film ‘Patty Hearst,’ directed by Paul Schrader.
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How To Cite

Article Title
- Patty Hearst Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/patty-hearst-33558.php
Last Updated
- February 16, 2018

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