Marion Davies

Marion Davies

Highest Rated: 91% Show People (1928)

Lowest Rated: 43% The Hollywood Revue (1929)

Birthday: Jan 3, 1897

Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, USA

Marion Davies was an American actress, producer, screenwriter, and philanthropist who went from being one of the most popular film stars of the silent era to a disgraced emblem of the talentless opportunist, both of which could be attributed to her nearly 40-year romantic relationship with media tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Born Marion Cecilia Elizabeth Brooklyn Douras on January 3, 1897 in Brooklyn, NY, Davies was the youngest of five children born to Rose Reilly, a homemaker, and Bernard J. Douras, a prominent lawyer and judge. Davies had three older sisters, Ethel, Rose, and Reine (an older brother, Charles, drowned in 1906, at the age of 15). The family lived in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, and the sisters, chasing dreams of stardom, changed their last name to Davies when they were teenagers, after spotting the name on a real estate agent's sign near their home. Davies found work as a chorus girl in Broadway revues and an artists' model, before being cast in the legendary Ziegfeld Follies in 1916. The following year, Davies made her feature film debut in "Runaway Romay" (1917). She not only starred in the film, but she also wrote the screenplay and enlisted her brother-in-law, George W. Lederer, to direct. However, 1917 would prove to be a monumental year in Davies' life for an entirely different reason: it was that year in which she met and fell in love with William Randolph Hearst, the infamous media tycoon. Hearst, who was 34 years Davies senior, not to mention a married man, was absolutely smitten with the young actress, and soon took her under his professional wing. Starting with her next film, "Cecilia of the Pink Roses" (1918), all of Davies' work until her retirement would be distributed by Hearst's own Cosmopolitan Pictures, and promoted by Hearst's media machine. As Hearst's wife, Millicent, refused to grant him a divorce, he and Davies lived together as man and mistress, hosting lavish parties at their palatial California estates, San Simeon (today known as Hearst Castle) and Ocean House. At first, Davies benefited from Hearst's patronage: her films "When Knighthood Was in Flower" (1922) and "Little Old New York" (1923) were the top box office hits of their respective years, and the star was crowned "Queen of the Screen" at the 1924 Hollywood convention of theater owners. However, 1924 would prove to be a disastrous turning point for Davies and Hearst. On November 16, 1924, during a lavish party on board Hearst's luxury yacht, the Oneida, producer Thomas Ince fell ill, and died three days later. The cause of death was heart failure, but rumors abounded for years that Hearst had shot Ince in a bout of jealousy, mistaking him for Charlie Chaplin, who was rumored to be having an affair with Davies. Suddenly, Davies' association with Hearst was something of a reliability. On top of the negative press from the Ince scandal, it was becoming apparent that Hearst was over-promoting the actress, and the public was growing sick of seeing her plastered all across his newsreels. Hearst was also as controlling as he was jealous: though Davies was a prodigious comedic talent, Hearst often demanded that she take on more dramatic roles, especially in prestigious costume dramas, though these parts obviously did not suit her. As the silent age gave way to the rise of talkies, Davies was nervous, as she had suffered from a mild stutter since childhood. However, she continued to work well into the next decade; her first talkie was "Marianne" (1929), and other films included "Not So Dumb" (1930), "Polly of the Circus" (1932), co-starring Clark Gable, "Going Hollywood" (1933) alongside Bing Crosby, and "Operator 13" (1934), with Gary Cooper. Things did not stay rosy for long, however: Hearst was having serious money problems by the late 1930s, and the couple was forced to sell their Welsh castle, St. Donat's, along with many of Davies' personal possessions, including jewelry and stocks and bonds, to save him from bankruptcy. Then, following falling outs with MGM and Warner Bros., Cosmopolitan Pictures folded. Davies made her final film appearance in "Ever Since Eve" (1937). Since Hearst was vehemently against her taking any part that wasn't a starring role, and because her proclivity for madcap onscreen antics was fading as she reached the age of forty, Davies retired from acting, and devoted her time to taking care of Hearst. Once social butterflies, the couple became isolated and aloof, and Davies developed a severe drinking problem. In 1941, Orson Welles released "Citizen Kane" (1941). Loosely based on Hearst's life, the film featured a character named Susan Alexander, protagonist Charles Foster Kane's mistress, who, after becoming his second wife, embarks on a career as an opera singer, aided heavily by the promotion of Kane's media empire, despite the fact that she's a terrible singer. For decades, despite Welles' adamant denials, it was widely reported that Susan Alexander was based on Davies, and the assumption only further cast a shadow over her once well-respected career, earning her an unfair reputation as a talentless opportunist. It would take another five or six decades before her work, especially her silent comedies, were rediscovered and reappraised as classics. Dismayed, she and Hearst spent most of the 1940s in seclusion in Northern California, as Hearst's health declined, and Davies' drinking got worse. On August 14, 1951, Hearst died from a stroke at the age of 88. He left Davies with 170,000 shares of Hearst Corporation stock, plus 30,000 more established in a trust fund he had set up a year before he passed away. Still, Hearst's family shunned Davies after his death, and she eventually relinquished her controlling interest in the company. Less than a year after Hearst's death, on October 31, 1951, Davies shocked the world by eloping to Las Vegas with Horace G. Brown, a former actor and sea captain. It was a notoriously fraught pairing: Brown later admitted that he treated Davies poorly, and Davies filed for divorce from Brown twice, but neither was finalized. They would remain married for the rest of Davies life. In her final decade, Davies dedicated her life to philanthropy, establishing the Marion Davies Foundation, which searched for cures for childhood diseases, and donated $1.9 million to establish a children's clinic at UCLA, which beared her name until 1998. She was also very active as a fundraiser for John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign. Not Long after Kennedy won the Democratic nomination, however, Davies was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She died on September 22, 1961, in her home in Hollywood. Marion Davies was 64 years old.

Highest rated movies

Show People
Going Hollywood

Photos

Filmography

Movies

Credit
No Score Yet 88% Ever Since Eve Miss Marjorie "Marge" Winton (Character) - 1937
No Score Yet No Score Yet Hearts Divided Elizabeth Patterson (Character) - 1936
No Score Yet 60% Cain and Mabel Mabel O'Dare (Character) - 1936
No Score Yet 40% Page Miss Glory Loretta Dalrymple / Miss Dawn Glory (Character) - 1935
No Score Yet 57% Operator 13 Gail Loveless (Character) - 1934
80% 55% Going Hollywood Sylvia Bruce (Character) - 1933
No Score Yet 64% Peg O' My Heart Margaret 'Peg' O'Connell (Character) - 1933
No Score Yet 50% Blondie of the Follies Blondie (Character),
Producer
- 1932
No Score Yet No Score Yet Polly of the Circus Polly Fisher (Character),
Producer
- 1932
No Score Yet No Score Yet Five and Ten Jennifer Rarick (Character) - 1931
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Bachelor Father Antoinette `'Tony'` Flagg (Character) - 1931
No Score Yet No Score Yet Not So Dumb Dulcinea `'Dulcy'` Parker (Character) - 1930
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Florodora Girl Daisy (Character) - 1930
No Score Yet No Score Yet Marianne Unknown (Character) - 1929
43% 21% The Hollywood Revue Self - 1929
91% 87% Show People Peggy Pepper/Herself (Character) - 1928
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Cardboard Lover Sally (Character),
Executive Producer
- 1928
No Score Yet 87% The Patsy Patricia Harrington (Character),
Producer
- 1928
No Score Yet 67% Quality Street Unknown (Character) - 1927
No Score Yet 69% The Red Mill Tina (Character) - 1927
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Fair Co-Ed Marion (Character) - 1927
No Score Yet No Score Yet Beverly of Graustark Beverly Calhoun (Character) - 1926
No Score Yet No Score Yet Zander the Great Mamie Smith (Character) - 1925
No Score Yet No Score Yet Lights of Old Broadway Fely/Anne (Character) - 1925
No Score Yet No Score Yet Janice Meredith Janice Maredith (Character) - 1924
No Score Yet No Score Yet Adam and Eva Eva King (Character) - 1923
No Score Yet No Score Yet Little Old New York Patricia O'Day (Character) - 1923
No Score Yet No Score Yet When Knighthood Was in Flower Mary Tudor (Character) - 1922
No Score Yet No Score Yet Beauty's Worth Prudence Cole (Character) - 1922
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Bride's Play Enid of Cashell / Aileen Barrett (Character) - 1922
No Score Yet No Score Yet Enchantment Ethel Hoyt (Character) - 1921