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John R. Hearst Jr., heir to media titan’s fortune; at 77

William Randolph Hearst with his grandson John Randolph Hearst Jr. in 1937. Associated Press

NEW YORK - John Randolph Hearst Jr., a grandson of media titan William Randolph Hearst and heir to the family fortune, has died, the company said Saturday. He was 77.

Mr. Hearst died Friday in New York City, the Hearst Corp. said in a statement on its website. The cause of death was not disclosed.

John R. “Bunky’’ Hearst spent most of his career at the company his grandfather founded. Besides serving on the board, he was a trustee of the Hearst Family Trust and a director of the Hearst Foundations.

“John was always very devoted to the company founded by his grandfather,’’ said Frank A. Bennack Jr., chief executive of Hearst Corp. “Those of us who served with him on the various Hearst Boards remember his great wit and interest in everything the company and foundations were doing. Bunky will be greatly missed.’’


He also worked for Hearst publications, including as a news photographer for the New York Daily Mirror in the 1950s and as an editor for Motor Boating & Sailing magazine.

He suffered a debilitating stroke in 1989, but several months later, he married 50-year-old Barbara Hearst. The marriage lasted until 2004, when Barbara Hearst filed for divorce, accusing him of constructive abandonment and cruel and inhumane treatment.

In 2007, in the midst of legal proceedings, Barbara Hearst asked a state Supreme Court judge to increase her monthly support from $26,000 to $90,000.

But the judge instead reduced it to $20,000, suggesting that Mr. Hearst’s wife had looted his estate by going on a spending spree with her husband’s money and investment accounts. The judge also recounted how, according to court papers, Mr. Hearst’s wife entered his bedroom with two process servers and told him, “We can do it ugly, or we can do it nice. . . . Remember one thing, I’m much smarter than you are.’’


The New York Post put it on a list of the city’s nastiest divorces.

John Randolph Hearst Jr. was born in New York City in 1933, to John Randolph Hearst and Gretchen Wilson. He spent his youth at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif. He said his nickname came from a character in one of his grandfather’s newspapers, the New York Journal-American.

He leaves his daughter, Lisa Hearst Hagerman, and three grandchildren.