Last time we celebrated our new mobile feature, “Featured Stories,” by bringing you one of Russia’s greatest royal mysteries surrounding Grand Duchess Anastasia. Now we have another exciting piece of history to share that definitely belongs on the big screen. It involves a woman who had many identities through the years: heiress, victim, bank robber, actress, author, mother, and wife.
WHO IS PATTY HEARST?
Let’s begin with breaking down the gripping tale:
Patricia Campbell Hearst (born February 20, 1954), now known as Patricia Hearst-Shaw, is the granddaughter of American publishing magnate Randolph Hearst. Her grandfather practically invented tabloid journalism, and his story inspired Orson Welles to make the classic film Citizen Kane.
In 1974 while she was a 19 year old student living in Berkeley, California, Hearst was abducted by a left-wing terrorist group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).
In exchange for her release, the SLA demanded that two group members be freed who were arrested in the 1973 killing of Marcus Foster, Oakland’s first black school superintendent. But authorities refused. The group then demanded that Hearst’s parents give millions of dollars to feed California’s poor.
Isolated and threatened with death, Patty was purportedly brainwashed into supporting their cause, making propaganda announcements for them and taking part in illegal activities. Hearst was found 19 months after her kidnapping, by which time she was a fugitive wanted for serious crimes. She was held in custody, despite speculation that her family’s resources would prevent her from spending time in jail.
On May 16, 1974, Hearst sprayed a barrage of gunfire outside a Los Angeles sporting goods store to help free SLA member Bill Harris, detained for shoplifting, and his wife, Emily, who had come to his aid.
The following day, May 17, Los Angeles police surrounded a house where most SLA members were holed up. A massive shootout ensued, and the building went up in flames — shown live on television. Six SLA members were killed in the battle with police, including the group’s leader, Cinque DeFreeze.
The FBI finally caught up with Hearst more than 18 months after her kidnapping. She was arrested in San Francisco on September 18, 1975. She was found guilty of bank robbery. Her conviction and long prison sentence were widely seen as unjust, but the procedural correctness of her trial was upheld by the courts. Hearst’s sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter and pardoned by President Bill Clinton.
Just two months out of prison, Hearst married her bodyguard, Bernard Shaw. The couple eventually settled in Connecticut and had two daughters, one of which is an emerging actress . Hearst has appeared in four John Waters movies, and wrote an autobiography.
DREAM CASTING THE EXPLOSIVE STORY
Donald ‘Cinque’ DeFreeze was the leader of the Symbionese Liberation Army and an escaped convict. Chiwetel Ejiofor, a very talented actor who became a household name after his performance in 12 Years a Slave, is our top choice for the role.
Rinko Kikuchi captured the world’s attention in Pacific Rim, and we are pretty stoked to see her in Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter. This actress deserves more roles, and would be a great pick to portray the complex painter/SLA member Wendy Yoshimura!
Mustache twin alert! Jokes side, Josh Hartnett is a seasoned actor who currently stars in the hit series Penny Dreadful. He effortlessly immerses himself in darker roles and would have no problem portraying one of the violent founding members of SLA, William Wolfe.
Chloe Sevigny is also one to never shy away from edgier, violent roles (anyone who has seen American Horror Story: Asylum will most certainly agree). Camilla Hall, also an SLA member and one of Patty’s kidnappers, would be a great role for Chloe to portray!
Nancy Ling Perry, one of the SLA members, had a very interesting past (she had a long history of drug addiction and worked as a topless blackjack dealer), and would be a challenging and unique role for Kristen Stewart to take on. We definitely think she has the right look for it, especially looking back at her gritty, edgy appearance in The Runaways.
Do you agree with our cast? Check out and dream cast the Patty Hearst Story on The IF List >>