It’s hard to believe, and even unfathomable for people under thirty to imagine that Patty Hearst was the most famous young woman in America in the 1970s because of the shocking journey that began one innocent evening in Berkeley with a knock on her door by perfect strangers, self-styled political revolutionaries who called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army, who abducted her, and inducted her, into a long mind-boggling notoriety that included bank robberies and other high crimes followed by long jail sentences for everyone involved, including Ms. Hearst who convicted and jailed, was later given a Presidential Pardon by Bill Clinton.

Hard to believe because anyone who knows Patty Hearst today (or for the past two decades) or who saw her at the activities at Versailles two weeks ago, knows a lovely, sweet soft-spoken personality, devoted mother (she brought her two daughters Lydia and Gillian with her, pictured), sister, daughter and wife.

Mrs. Hearst-Shaw lives in New York and Connecticut, and like her sister Anne, with whom she is in close contact (their daughters are contemporaries – and Anne’s daughter Amanda, like her cousin Lydia, is currently pursuing a modeling career), she has lots of close friends on the New York charity/social scene.

The picture tells the story – a friendly, outgoing woman, like her friend (and sort of a look-alike of Kimberly Rockefeller), Patty is a very popular young mother who’s written books, acted in films, chaired charity galas and otherwise might remind you of that nice neighbor next door.

The Hearst girls were brought up in California (San Francisco) where independence in women is bred into the character, as well as self-respect and a quiet common courtesy. It’s interesting to see some of their daughters pursuing careers that foster celebrity, a path blazed by their childhood friends Paris and Nicky Hilton, in an almost star-struck way. It’s also amusingly ironic considering that Patty’s grandfather William Randolph Hearst was instrumental with his “yellow journalism” in creating the American notion of notorious celebrity, and that she herself almost eclipsed him as a household word with hers, while today she’s a watchful mom and caring friend, like her sister Anne (she has other sisters whom I don’t know), and like her own mother.

Albemarle, Rufus

Aston, Muffie Potter

Basso, Dennis

Benedict, Daniel

Capehart, Jonathan

Cominotto, Michael

Curry, Boykin

Dahl, Tessa

DeWoody, Beth Rudin

Duchin, Peter and Brooke

Duff, Patricia

Eaton, Phoebe

Fales-HIll, Susan

Fekkai, Frederic


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/