Question: What is the central difference between the historical reality of Randolph Hurst’s life and the fiction of the life of Citizen Kane?
To answer this question is to first gather questions about Hurst, to discover the facts of his life: how he grew up, how he made his money, what kind of family life he had with his wife and children, what kind of social and political power he wielded. The curious should consider his social power. The elite came to dine at his table and waltz on his dance floor. The inquisitive would consider his political power. He was an elected official who did not tend his meetings. He controlled how news was written and what was considered news. The reality is that his power to control the media made him a force over which there were few other controls.
Powers ascribed to Kane are only those powers that can be ascribed to a piece of celluloid running past some white light. Kane was only an fleeting image on a screen. Light and darkness that was there and then gone. But the fear of that image being burned into the minds of theatre going Americans arrested Hurst in his tracks. The fiction and facts were interwoven, sometimes around Hurst’s mistress, and even Orson Welles agreed that the portrayal of Marion was unfair.
So there is the interesting paradox, the difference between the historical reality of Hurst and the fictional life of Kane. Hurst fought against the unfairness of the portrayal of Marion by using the media tools which he had used unfairly on others. And that essentially had been used by a director creating a fiction about Hurst.