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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

The Complicated Life of Patricia Hearst

Aired April 28, 2001 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: She was kidnapped by terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICIA HEARST: Blindfolded, gagged, tied up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: She starred in a bank robbery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEARST: I was supposed to say my name and make a speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: She's starred in movies, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN WATERS, DIRECTOR: I think she's a good comedian.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Now she may be a star witness as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERWIN CHEMERINSKY, LAW PROFESSOR: A lot is going to depend on this group of jurors, and whether they know of Patty Hearst and what they remember about her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The story of Patricia Hearst, now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

DARYN KAGAN, HOST: I'm Daryn Kagan. Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

The name Patty Hearst -- it conjures up a number of different images. There is Patty Hearst the heiress, Patty Hearst the kidnap victim, Patty Hearst the convicted felon, even Patty Hearst the actress. And now you can add to that, Patty Hearst the government witness. She's expected to testify in the upcoming conspiracy trial of a member of the group that kidnapped her.

So who really is Patricia Campbell Hearst? We search for answers to that question in this story of the woman who continues to make headlines decade after decade.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HEARST: I think it was just been a matter over the years of figuring out and coming to grips with the fact that, OK, people recognize me.

CHARLES BATES, FBI AGENT: She pointed an M-1 carbine and fired the whole clip.

HEARST: There's always this fascination with what happened to me. You know, sometimes I can't walk down the street without 50 heads turning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patty Hearst has just been found guilty of bank robbery by a federal court jury in San Francisco...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARON COLLINS, NARRATOR (voice-over): The fascination with Patty Hearst endures, whether she likes it or not. She can't escape images many people still have of this 47-year-old woman. Most recently it's images of an actress in a string of B-grade movies like "Serial Mom."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SERIAL MOM")

HEARST: No, please. Fashion has changed!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: But it's these images that are most closely associated with Patty Hearst. Those blurry, jerky clips from the 1974 bank robbery remain vivid in the memories of many Americans.

Uncertainties still linger. Did she willingly join the Symbionese Liberation Army, known as the SLA? Or was she brainwashed into doing so after the group kidnapped her? The courts found her guilty of armed robbery.

Now, more than 25 years later, Patty Hearst finds herself again confronted with that past.

HEARST: It'll never go away, and, you know, certain things can bring it back like it just happened.

COLLINS: The government is asking Hearst to relive and retell the ordeal in the upcoming trial of Kathy Soliah, allegedly a former SLA fugitive turned soccer mom, who eluded the law for 24 years.

ERWIN CHEMERINSKY, LAW PROFESSOR: It's so hard to know what impact there'll be to Patty Hearst as a witness. A lot is going to depend on this group of jurors, and whether they know of Patty Hearst and what they remember about her.

COLLINS: And which Patty Hearst do they remember? First there was Patty Hearst the heiress. Born Patricia Campbell Hearst in San Francisco in 1954, she began life with one of the most famous last names in the country. The family's fortune was built by her great- grandfather, a millionaire miner turned U.S. senator. His son, Patty's grandfather, was William Randolph Hearst.

HEARST: I really didn't realize as I was growing up how famous my grandfather was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CITIZEN KANE")

ORSON WELLES, ACTOR: Your complete attention!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: So famous and flamboyant was the two-term U.S. congressman and publisher, he inspired the movie "Citizen Kane."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CITIZEN KANE")

WELLES: Are we going to declare war on Spain, or are we not?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Like his movie counterpart, William Randolph Hearst did buy a chain of newspapers and magazines. He also built Hearst Castle, San Simeon, recently featured in a documentary hosted by granddaughter Patty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SECRETS OF SAN SIMEON,")

HEARST: This is the assembly room. It's 85 feet long and so large that my father and his brothers sometimes moved furniture aside and played touch football here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Patty's father, Randolph Apperson Hearst, took over the media empire in 1965. In her autobiography, "Every Secret Thing," Patty Hearst says she and her four sisters weren't spoiled by her family's money but did lead a sheltered life. She went to a series of Catholic schools, earnings A's and B's. Her math scores improved with the tutoring help of Stephen Weed (ph), a young teacher at Patty's high school. The two would become lovers.

When the story of Patricia Hearst continues, a radical turn for the young woman from privileged heiress to kidnapping victim.

HEARST: I was just a student going to Berkeley, and next thing I know, there's a kidnapping, you know, and people are being beaten up and gun -- you know, gunshots.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: We'll continue with the story of Patty Hearst right after this commercial break. But before we leave you, a look at other newsmakers of the week with "Passages."

ANNOUNCER: Deja vu all over again. Actor Robert Downey, Jr., is headed back to a live-in drug rehabilitation center for at least six months, according to officials, this after the often-troubled star is involved in yet another drug-related address, his second in five months.

Downey's latest brush with the law has also cost him his award- winning role on "Ally McBeal."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS)

ROBERT DOWNEY JR., ACTOR: I just wanted to share this with my fellow parolees -- I mean, nominees.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Sprung: Marion Suge Knight, a co-founder of the gangsta rap label Death Row Records, is paroled. The music impresario turned inmate is now in federal custody and will spend about two and a half months in a halfway house. Knight served five years of a nine- year sentence for parole violation. In 1996, Knight and a group of other men were caught on videotape beating an L.A. gang member. Later that very same night, gunmen would fire into Knight's car, killing Death Row's biggest star, Tupak Shakur.

Hasta la vista, baby. Arnold Schwarzenegger terminates his plans to run for governor of California in 2002. The muscle-bound action star says his film career and family are more important than politics, at least right now.

You'll find more "Passages" and entertainment news in this week's "People" magazine.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): Patty Hearst, a name known to most Americans, but a name the woman herself has never liked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Patty was the name her parents loved. You've never liked the name, right?

HEARST: No, but I'm...

KING: You like Patricia.

HEARST: ... I've stuck with it. I...

KING: But you accepted it.

HEARST: ... accept it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: She prefers Patricia. And in the early '70s, life was good for Patricia Hearst. Graduated from high school a year early, she earned the title best student for her freshman year at the elite junior college in Menlo Park, California. She lived with her former high school math tutor, Stephen Weed. They moved into an apartment in Berkeley, near the University of California, where Weed was a teacher and Patricia enrolled as a student.

In November of 1973, Hearst announced her engagement to Weed. They planned to marry the following June. But on February 4, 1974, the 19-year-old's life would dramatically change.

HEARST: I was just a student, going to Berkeley, and, you know, they knock on the door, and next thing I know, there's a kidnapping, you know, and people are being beaten up, and gun -- you know, gunshots.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We rushed to the front of the house and saw what appeared to be two men putting a girl into the trunk who was half-unclothed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Hearst had been kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the SLA. Tim Findley, then a "San Francisco Chronicle" reporter, had been tracking this group since it had gained notoriety in 1973 for the murder of Oakland's first black school superintendent, Marcus Foster.

TIM FINDLEY, AUTHOR, "THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE SLA": And that was the case I was working on at the time of the Hearst kidnapping.

COLLINS: Findley eventually co-wrote this book about the SLA, a Berkeley-based group led by prison escapee Donald DeFries (ph).

FINDLEY: Well, the core group organized around Donald David DeFries, who proclaimed himself to be Sinkyu (ph), the founder of the Symbionese Liberation Army, were at first a group of, frankly, young women who had been involved in participation in the so-called prison movement and supporting prisoners and black prisoners in particular.

COLLINS: DeFries and his SLA followers kept Hearst captive in a small closet for 57 days.

HEARST: Blindfolded, gagged, tied up, raped, generally, you know, sensory deprivation.

COLLINS: Hearst says her confinement was part of a successful strategy to brainwash her.

HEARST: They used what -- the 3 D's, is what it's called, debility, dependency, and dread. And they debilitate you, you know, by locking you up. You're deprived of sight, light, sleep, food. You depend on them for all information, because that -- it comes through them to you. So that that is your only source of it. And the dread is just the threat, constantly, that you'll be killed if you don't cooperate.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HEARST (on tape): Mom, Dad, I'm OK.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COLLINS: Just days after her kidnapping, Hearst's parents heard from Patricia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICIA HEARST'S MOTHER: We love you, Patty, and we're all praying for you. I'm sorry I'm crying, but I'm happy you're safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Authorities refused the kidnappers' demand to release two SLA comrades arrested for the murder of Marcus Foster in exchange for Patty Hearst. In return for their daughter, the Hearsts were told by the SLA to feed the poor of San Francisco. Randolph Hearst, called an enemy of the people by the SLA, staged a large food giveaway.

HEARST: Donald DeFries, who was the leader of the group, came to me and he said, "Your father's hired psychics to try to find you, so I don't want you to think about, you know, where you are, or anything about this place. And, I mean, I realized I was trying not to think about even anything that could lead a psychic to me.

COLLINS: After eight weeks, her captors let Hearst out of the closet. She joined their cause. Her new name would be Tanya.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HEARST: If the only alternative to freedom is death...

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COLLINS: She made another audiotape message. She says all such recordings were scripted by the SLA members, who forced her to read them.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HEARST (on tape): I have been given the choice of, one, being released in a safe area or joining the forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army and fighting for my freedom and the freedom of all oppressed people. I have chosen to stay and fight. (END AUDIO CLIP)

COLLINS: It appeared she had joined her captors in fighting the revolution.

FINDLEY: They had been convinced by that time that the state of the United States was oppressive, and that they would overthrow the oppressive state.

COLLINS: The revolution needed money, so on April 15, 1974, the SLA decided to rob a branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco, a bank run by the father of Hearst's closest childhood friend. The robbery was to showcase Hearst's alleged conversion to its cause.

HEARST: I said my name, and because I was supposed to say my name and make a speech, but it's all pretty unclear. And then Donald DeFries shot someone, and then everything went blank. I have no idea -- my next memory is sitting in the car, leaving it.

COLLINS: Following the bank heist, the SLA moved south to Los Angeles. One month after the robbery, Hearst would unleash a barrage of bullets, freeing an SLA member being detained outside a sporting goods store for shoplifting.

CHARLES BATES, FBI AGENT: She pointed an M-1 carbine and fired the whole clip. And then she took another rifle and shot some more. As I recall, there was about 30 shots.

COLLINS: Hearst and two other SLA members escaped but left a clue to their whereabouts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up. It's all over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: And the very next day, the police surrounded a house taken over by the Symbionese Liberation Army. A televised shoot-out ensued.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's bad, that's bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FINDLEY: The whole world watched, long before, you know, O.J. Simpson took his ride. This was the first time, and it was overwhelming in terms of what the media did.

KING: Now, you'd been kidnapped for 90 days when this famous shoot-out occurred. Where were you?

HEARST: I'm trying to think now. In a motel with the Harrises.

KING: Were you watching this?

HEARST: Yes.

KING: What did you think?

HEARST: Of -- you know, they were saying the whole time that they thought that I was in there.

COLLINS: Hearst watched on television as six SLA members died in the gunfight. This left just her and the other two people watching with her, William and Emily Harris.

FINDLEY: Once the real people who are the core of the SLA are killed in Los Angeles, there, in effect, is no SLA. Whatever exists after that, that robs a bank for money, for example, is never going to be the SLA again.

COLLINS: After spending a few months hiding in Pennsylvania and New York, Hearst and the others drove back across the country to northern California. They took on new recruits, including, allegedly, Kathy Soliah, who had spoken at a Berkeley rally after the shoot-out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHY SOLIAH: SLA soldiers, although I know it's not necessary to say, keep fighting. I'm with you, and we are with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: The SLA robbed two more banks. Next, members planted a series of bombs under police cars. Some went off, some did not. Here at this house, it all came to an end in September 1975. A year and a half after she had been kidnapped, Patricia Hearst and other SLA members were arrested in San Francisco.

FINDLEY: She was terrified by the arrest, but gradually, as she was taken to jail, became more and more defiant, signed in, when they gave her the documents in the booking procedure, listed under occupation, she wrote "urban guerrilla."

COLLINS: Two Hearst trials followed. Hearst said she had been brainwashed and forced to participate in the robbery. The jury did not see it that way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a bulletin from Eyewitness News. Patty Hearst has just been found guilty of bank robbery by a federal court jury in San Francisco...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: The judge sentenced Hearst to seven years in prison. In the second trial, for the store shootout in L.A., Hearst plead no contest and received probation.

In 1979, after nearly two years in prison, Hearst became a free woman when her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEARST: I think I'm a lot stronger, a lot more self-confident.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Stronger and more confident, Patricia Hearst was about to reinvent herself once more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEARST: This is Inga. She's from Sweden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: When her story continues, Hearst in front of the camera again, but not a bank security camera, a studio camera, with director John Waters.

HEARST: I met John at the Cannes Film Festival when the Patty Hearst film came out. And we met at a cocktail party. And he said, "Oh, you know, I've wanted to put you in my movie. I'm going to put -- you know, I want to put you in my next film." And I thought, Oh, right.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: In 1975, famed attorney F. Lee Bailey took on Patty Hearst's defense case. So where is F. Lee Bailey now?

ANNOUNCER: F. Lee Bailey first gained notoriety defending Dr. Sam Shepard in the famous murder case that inspired the TV series and movie "The Fugitive." And he defended the so-called Boston Strangler, Albert DiSalvo.

So where is F. Lee Bailey now? After the Hearst trial, Bailey continued to take on high-profile clients, including O.J. Simpson. In 1996, the Florida lawyer spent six weeks in jail for contempt of court relating to stock he claims he received as legal fees from a client. Bailey is currently defending himself in the Florida supreme court against disbarment.

PEOPLE IN THE NEWS will continue after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): Could someone as famous, or infamous, as Patricia Hearst simply disappear from the public eye? For a few years following her 1979 release for prison, she did just that. Hearst never married fiance Stephen Weed. Instead, just two months out of prison, she took bodyguard Bernard Shaw as her husband.

The couple eventually moved from California to Connecticut and have two daughters.

Hearst came back into public view in 1982, this time as an author, releasing her autobiography, "Every Secret Thing."

HEARST: I wrote about it all because even though there was a trial, not everything that went on was made public.

COLLINS: First came the book, then the movie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Welcome. You're now Tanya, a guerrilla fighter in the Symbionese Liberation Army.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEARST: I agreed to let the film be made because, well, primarily because most of the story was in the public record, and Hollywood could have made a film without my ever cooperating with it or agreeing to let it be made. And I thought it might be even worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We're the SLA, and this is Patty Hearst.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: The film led Hearst to her next reincarnation, that of an actress, her career launched by director John Waters.

HEARST: I met John at the Cannes Film Festival when the Patty Hearst film came out. And we met at a cocktail party, and he said, "Oh, I've, you know, wanted to put you in my movie. I'm going to put -- you know, I want to put you in my next film." And I thought, Oh, right.

WATERS: Probably the initial appeal was the incredible notoriety, what happened to Patty Hearst. I went to her trial, I was obsessed by all that. But now it isn't that at all, because if it was that, I would have used her once.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEARST: Hi, kids. Remember, always look both ways before cross...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Mother!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Waters went on to put Hearst in four of his movies, casting her as the ditsy mother of a teenage gang member...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEARST: We did it. We set her free. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: ... a jeweler...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEARST: Show me...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: ... a wacky art patron, and the mother of a terrorist in "Cecil B. Demented."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CECIL B. DEMENTED")

HEARST: We know you've seen many R-rated movies, and we're here to help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: It's a movie about an actress who is kidnapped, then brainwashed into joining her captors' group. Ironically, many of Hearst's SLA captors had been aspiring actresses.

FINDLEY: Angela Atwood, who was killed in L.A., was an actress and knew Nancy Lane Perry (ph) and Liz Moon (ph) from, you know, other little similar acting schools, and Soliah from acting schools. Sure, I mean, posing, carrying out the play, living out the fantasy.

COLLINS: Kathy Soliah, the reported SLA member who escaped when all others were arrested in 1975, has acted in local theater productions in Minnesota. That was until authorities caught up with her in 1999. At that time, Soliah's life bore little resemblance to what it had been 25 years earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHY SOLIAH: SLA soldiers, although I know it's not necessary to say, keep fighting. I'm with you. And we are with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Kathy Soliah, 1974. Kathy Soliah, 2001. Soliah had been a fugitive for two and a half decades when she was profiled on the show "America's Most Wanted."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED")

JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": These newly created images from the FBI and LAPD show how Soliah and Kilgore may look today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Somebody in Minnesota recognized Soliah as neighbor Sarah Jane Olsen (ph), wife and mother of two children, a so-called soccer mom. She'll soon be tried in Los Angeles for conspiracy to commit murder as a member of the SLA. Soliah has denied joining the group.

SOLIAH: I was not in Los Angeles. I did not place those bombs under those cars. I was not in Carmichael Bank in Sacramento. I am innocent.

And I think that if we didn't have people telling stories, particularly two main witnesses, Officer Brian (ph), and, of course, as we all know, Patricia Hearst, we wouldn't be having this trial today.

KING: Are you going to testify at that trial?

HEARST: I've been subpoenaed, so, yes, of course.

COLLINS: Hearst is touted as the government's star witness, but no one is quite sure what she'll say.

CHEMERINSKY: Nothing else Hearst is likely to talk about, what the SLA was doing at the time and how Soliah fit into the overall operations.

COLLINS: Tim Findley wrote a book about the SLA after investigating the group while he was a "San Francisco Chronicle" reporter.

FINDLEY: I think Patricia's going to be a very difficult witness, I don't think Patricia Hearst will answer the right questions, even if they're asked. And I think that would be very dangerous for her to do that. And I don't mean physically dangerous but legally would compromise herself.

She's a privileged child of a privileged family, and in a way ended up being the privileged survivor of a very unprivileged group of crazy radicals.

COLLINS: Survivor, maybe that, more than any other, is the enduring image of Patricia Hearst, with an ability to survive and change no matter how often the past comes back to remind her of who she was or who she is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: The trial of Kathy Soliah is just one reason Patricia Hearst's name has been in the news lately. Earlier this year, she received a pardon for her felony conviction from President Clinton just as he was leaving office.

Please log onto our Web site at cnn.com/people for more information on Patricia Hearst.

Coming up, it's truly a beautiful day, as PEOPLE IN THE NEWS gets an exclusive interview with rocker Bono of U2.

BONO, U2: These are really, really something. KAGAN: Don't miss it, next week this time.

I'm Daryn Kagan. For everyone here at PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, thanks for joining us.

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