By Robert Wood
Patte Barham, newspaper reporter, war correspondent, bestselling author, philanthropist and celebrity socialite, passed away quietly during the early morning hours of November 22, 2016.
Barham, known for her illustrious column, “A View from Barham Boulevard” in The Tolucan Times, passed away at Silverado Beverly Care in West Hollywood.
Born Patricia Ann Barham to Dr. Frank Forrest Barham and Jessica Gorham-Barham, she grew up in the luxurious world of Los Angeles and in the life of William Randolph Hearst. She called Marion Davies her aunt Marion and Mr. Hearst was simply Mr. Hearst.
Her father, born May 24, 1879 to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Barham, graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at USC in 1906. By 1911 he had joined his brother Guy Brinton Barham in managing the Los Angeles Morning Herald, which the two brothers turned into an afternoon paper. When Guy Barham died suddenly in 1922, Dr. Frank Barham became sole publisher of the Los Angeles Herald and Express.
Having sold the newspaper to William Randolph Hearst, he remained as publisher of the Herald-Express until he retired in 1950 relinquishing the title to Mr. Hearst’s son, David W. Hearst.
Patte was born with newspaper ink in her blood and by the time she had reached high school, her interest in journalism was already cemented. She asked her dad for a job as a reporter and was informed she would have to apply to Mr. Hearst, as he was now owner of the newspaper. Being somewhat shy, she nonetheless headed straight for his office. “He walked me out to my father and said, ‘why don’t we give the girl a chance, Frank; maybe she has something.’” Thus, began her column “Thru the Eyes of a Coed” in the society section with Sally Moore as her editor.
Having no experience, her salary was zero dollars a week, but before long she received a “raise” to five dollars a week. Later, “Thru the Eyes of a Coed” became “Thru the Eyes of a Gadabout.” Her masthead was a pair of someone’s eyes and she said, “Don’t you think they should at least be my eyes?” That was our Patte.
“Dog Days at San Simeon” as she called them, were filled with wonderment where she met everyone: the royal crème de la crème. Once, not having any idea who Cary Grant was, she asked him, “What do you do?” His reply: “I play tennis,” so they played tennis together. Her happiest time was riding horses with her favorite uncle Harry.
When the Korean conflict broke out she immediately volunteered to report the story first hand. She was issued a uniform and headed out with the boys. Sitting in the mud with her trusty typewriter, she reported back to W.R.H. literally from the battle at Pork Chop Hill, writing an accurate account of war at the front lines. This was one of her many firsts for women in American history.
During the height of Mr. Hearst and his empire, she was syndicated in over 500 Hearst publications. She helped solve infamous crimes, murders, and was once hidden out at Hearst’s private compound, Wyntoon, during the infamous Ma Stager murder trial. The gang had escaped jail and was in hot pursuit of the key witness.
Her list of achievements, honors, awards and accolades received during her lifetime is endless.
She is survived by the many people she loved as her family and friends.