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An open letter to Brooke Gutierrez, Hearst Castle interim director

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As you are no doubt aware, the film Citizen Kane is a loosely based, “Hollywoodized,” and very unflattering portrait of the life and life choices of publisher William Randolph Hearst. Even though full of myth and inconsistency, no more than 70 years after its release, it is unfortunately seen by many as definitive documentary fact.

It is well known that Mr. Hearst spent large amounts of time, energy, and money to try to block the production and distribution of this film. It defies belief that he would approve of having it screened for the public in his own private hilltop movie theater.

The mission statement for the California Parks Department reads, in part, that its duty is to “preserve and protect the valued … cultural resources” of our great state. Surely, the life story of William Randolph Hearst is a “valued cultural resource.” The tourism dollars generated by the tours at Hearst Castle prove that on a daily basis.

Did the state of California really need to approve this screening plan? Do we really want to insult the memory of one of California’s most influential native sons? Would it not seem to be more in keeping with its mission to “protect and preserve” the legacy of William Randolph Hearst to continue to provide historically accurate information about his life, as the interpretive programs have done for decades?

There is still time to reconsider your decision before the proposed screening in March. Please give deep and serious thought to reversing it.

Thank you for your consideration.

-- Mary J. Kocher - Hearst Castle guide (retired), Riverside

-- Mary J. Kocher - Hearst Castle guide (retired), Riverside

-- Mary J. Kocher - Hearst Castle guide (retired), Riverside

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