The theme for our brief summer vacation was “Hooray for Capitalists.”
William Randolph Hearst and John Paul Getty were titans of business who built empires, gathered stupifying art collections and then built suitable structures in which to display their treasures.
Hearst built the world’s first newspaper media empire. San Simeon, designed by the great Julia Morgan, took over 28 years to build. But the Depression hit and portions of San Simeon remain unfinished. This was Hollywood’s greatest weekend playground where Marion Davies, Hearst’s mistress, invited her movie friends to relax for a few days. It was also the location for some of the most elaborate costume parties ever staged.
In a touching aside, actor David Niven recalls visiting the castle in 1957—the golden days long gone—and by then, he said, the wine, including an 1890 Tokay “tasted like the bottom of the San Pedro Harbor.”