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Marion Davies

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Also Known As: Marion Cecilia Douras Died: September 22, 1961
Born: January 3, 1897 Cause of Death: cancer
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: actor, producer, model, business executive

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A charming actress whose career spanned from the end of the silent era to the first decade of the talkies, Marion Davies' substantial talent was overshadowed by her storied personal life and ongoing affair with powerful newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It was as a 19-year-old performer on Broadway that Davies first met Hearst, a married man who, after falling in love with the young actress, vowed to make her one of Hollywood's greatest stars. Literally sparing no expense, Hearst created a production company solely for Davies' projects and leveraged deals with major studios to distribute her films. Although her benefactor preferred to see his star in such elaborate costume dramas as "Buried Treasure" (1921) and "When Knighthood was in Flower" (1922), Davies' impish personality made her far better suited for comedies like "Tillie the Toiler" (1927) and "The Patsy" (1928). Whether justified or not, it was Davies' off-screen travails that earned her lasting notoriety over the years. The sudden death of silent film producer Thomas Ince on Hearst's yacht led to persistent rumors of murder and a cover-up. Years later, Hollywood wunderkind Orson Welles' film à clef "Citizen Kane" (1941) made the...

A charming actress whose career spanned from the end of the silent era to the first decade of the talkies, Marion Davies' substantial talent was overshadowed by her storied personal life and ongoing affair with powerful newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It was as a 19-year-old performer on Broadway that Davies first met Hearst, a married man who, after falling in love with the young actress, vowed to make her one of Hollywood's greatest stars. Literally sparing no expense, Hearst created a production company solely for Davies' projects and leveraged deals with major studios to distribute her films. Although her benefactor preferred to see his star in such elaborate costume dramas as "Buried Treasure" (1921) and "When Knighthood was in Flower" (1922), Davies' impish personality made her far better suited for comedies like "Tillie the Toiler" (1927) and "The Patsy" (1928). Whether justified or not, it was Davies' off-screen travails that earned her lasting notoriety over the years. The sudden death of silent film producer Thomas Ince on Hearst's yacht led to persistent rumors of murder and a cover-up. Years later, Hollywood wunderkind Orson Welles' film à clef "Citizen Kane" (1941) made the newspaper tycoon apoplectic when he was told the film cast him, and particularly Davies, in an unflattering light. Frequently painted as a party-loving gold-digger by the ill-informed, a closer look at Davies and her complicated relationship with Hearst revealed an ambitious, talented and devoted woman who possessed an inner-strength largely unrecognized by the public.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Ever Since Eve (1937) Marge Winton
3.
 Hearts Divided (1936) Betsey Patterson
4.
 Cain and Mabel (1936) Mabel O'Dare
5.
 Page Miss Glory (1935) Loretta
6.
 Operator 13 (1934) Gail Loveless [also known as Lucille, Operator 13 and Anne Claybourne]
7.
 Peg O' My Heart (1933) Peg [O'Connell]
8.
 Going Hollywood (1933) Sylvia Bruce
9.
 Polly of the Circus (1932) Polly [Fisher]
10.
 Blondie of the Follies (1932) Blondie [McClune]
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1910:
Broadway debut (as chorus girl) in "The Blue Bird"
1917:
Film acting and screenwriting debut, "Runaway Romany" (sole screenwriting credit)
1918:
Four films produced through the Marion Davies Picture Corporation (set up by W.R. Hearst); subsequent producer credits through Cosmopolitan Pictures (also set up by Hearst)
1924:
First Cosmopolitan film to be released and distributed by MGM, "Janice Meredith"
1929:
Talking film debut in all-star "Hollywood Revue of 1929"
1934:
Moved Cosmopolitan over to Warner Brothers when the role of Elizabeth Barrett in "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" was given to Norma Shearer instead of to Davies
1937:
Made last film, "Ever Since Eve"
1937:
Loaned the financially ailing William Randolph Hearst $1 million dollars; reportedly raised money by selling jewelry
1955:
Purchased $2 million Desert Inn in Palm Springs
1960:
Campaigned for John Kennedy's presidential bid
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

P S 93: Brooklyn , New York -
Convent of the Sacred Heart: Hastings , New York -

Notes

"I had a really good time at MGM. And we had no quarrels much, except once in a while, I'd go up to the front office and say I thought I should be doing something big, like washing elephants ... All my life I wanted to have talent ... Finally I had to admit there was nothing there." --Marion Davies, quoted in "The Times We Had"

"I liked to think that WR was at his happiest when he was with me. Companionship and love. That was our pact ... I can't say I was ever unhappy, not at all. It was a big, gay party, every bit of it." --Marion Davies, quoted in "The Times We Had"

"Upon my honor

I saw a madonna

Sitting up in a niche

Above the door

Of the glamorous whore

Of a prominent son-of-a-bitch."

--attributed to Dorothy Parker after she saw Davies' studio bungalow, quoted in "Halliwell's Filgoers's Companion", Volume 8

It has been estimated that Hearst lost $7 million promoting Davies' career. --From Davies' The New York Times obituary, September 23, 1961.

Davies owned several office buildings in Manhattan for a number of years. She also owned a series of mansions and castles, among them the 55-room Ocean House, built in 1928 for $2 million and furnished with entire rooms imported from Europe at a reported cost of $1.25 million. --Source: Marion Davies' The New York Times obituary, September 23, 1961.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
William Randolph Hearst. Newspaper magnate. Together from 1917 until his death in 1951.
husband:
Horace G Brown. Sea captain. Married c. October 1951; Davies filed for divorce eight months after marriage and again in 1954, but withdrew suit each time; survived her.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Bernard J Douras. Lawyer. Later New York City Magistrate from 1918-30.
sister:
Reine Douras. Actor. Older.
sister:
Ethel Douras. Actor. Older.
sister:
Rose Adlon. Actor. Older; was an alcoholic and eventually lost custody of Patricia.
brother-in-law:
George W Lederer. Director.
nephew:
Charles Lederer. Screenwriter. Son of George Lederer.
daughter:
Patricia Van Cleve Lake. Born to Davies and William Randolph Hearst on June 18, 1923; passed off as Davies' niece; kidnapped by George Van Cleve who later was awarded custody; married to actor Arthur Lake; died on October 3, 1993.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Citizen Hearst"
"Marion Davies"
"The Times We Had"

Contributions

09165j ( 2007-05-25 )

Source: Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era

In 1924, when Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst had a yachting party that went from New York to California. Aboard the yacht were personalities like Elinor Glyn and Charlie Chaplin. It was while aboard the Hearst Yacht that Marion Davies began a secret affair with Mr.Chaplin and when William Randolph Hearst discovered this he actually attempted to kill Chaplin aboard the boat by firing shots from a small handgun he had hidden in his bedroom. Fortunatley, Chaplin survived the near-fatal attacks, yet the affair continued until their arrival to California.

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