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Marion Davies Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (44) | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (4)

Born in Brooklyn [now in New York City], New York, USA
Died in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameMarion Cecelia Douras
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Marion Cecelia Douras was born in the borough of Brooklyn, New York on January 3, 1897. She had been bitten by the show biz bug early as she watched her sisters perform in local stage productions. She wanted to do the same. As Marion got older, she tried out for various school plays and did fairly well. Once her formal education had ended, Marion began her career as a chorus girl in New York City and eventually found herself in the famed Ziegfeld Follies. But she wanted more than to dance. Acting, to Marion, was the epitome of show business and aimed her sights in that direction. Her first film was Runaway Romany (1917) when she was 20. Written by Marion and directed by her brother-in-law, the film wasn't exactly a box-office smash, but for Marion, it was a start and a stepping stone to bigger things. The following year Marion starred in three films, The Burden of Proof (1918), [error], and Cecilia of the Pink Roses (1918). The latter film was backed by newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, with whom Marion would continue a long-term romantic relationship for the next 30 years. Because of Hearst's newspaper empire, Marion would be promoted as no actress before her. She appeared in numerous films over the next few years, with The Cinema Murder (1919) being one of the most suspenseful. In 1922, Marion appeared as Mary Tudor in the historical romantic epic, When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922). It was a film into which Hearst poured in millions of dollars as a showcase for her. Although Marion didn't normally appear in period pieces, she turned in a wonderful performance and the film turned a profit. Marion remained busy, one of the staples in movie houses around the country. At the end of the twenties, it was obvious that sound films were about to replace the silents. Marion was nervous because she had a stutter when she became excited and worried she wouldn't make a successful transition to the new medium, but she was a true professional who had no problem with the change. Time after time, film after film, Marion turned in masterful performances. In 1930, two of her better films were Not So Dumb (1930) and The Florodora Girl (1930). By the early 30s, Marion had lost her box office appeal and the downward slide began.

Had she been without Hearst's backing, she possibly could have been more successful. He was more of a hindrance than a help. Hearst had tried to push MGM executives to hire Marion for the role of Elizabeth Barrett in The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934). Louis B. Mayer had other ideas and hired producer Irving Thalberg's wife, Norma Shearer instead. Hearst reacted by pulling his newspaper support for MGM without much impact. By the late 1930's Hearst was suffering financial reversals and it was Marion who bailed him out by selling off $1 million of her jewelry. Without her the Hearst Corporation might not be where it is today. Hearst's financial problems also spelled the end to her career. Although she had made the transition to sound, other stars fared better and her roles became fewer and further between. In 1937, a 40 year old Marion filmed her last movie, Ever Since Eve (1937). Out of films and with the intense pressures of her relationship with Hearst, Marion turned to more and more to alcohol. Despite those problems, Marion was a very sharp and savvy business woman. After the death of Hearst in 1951, Marion married for the first time at the age of 54, to Horace Brown. The union would last until she died of cancer on September 22, 1961 in Los Angeles, California. She was 64 years old.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Marion Davies, born Marion Cecilea Douras on January 3, 1897, was one of the great comedic actresses of the silent era and into the 30's. She began as a chorus girl in New York, first in the pony follies and later in the Ziegfield Follies. Her stage name came when she and her family passed the Davies Insurance Building. One of her sisters called out "Davies!!! That shall be my stage name," and the whole family took on that name. When Marion moved to California, she was already involved with William Randolph Hearst. They lived together at Hearst's San Simeon castle, a very elaborate mansion, which stands as a California landmark to this day. At San Simeon, they threw very elaborate parties, many of them costume parties. Frequent guests included Carole Lombard, Mary Pickford, Sonja Henie, Dolores del Rio - basically all of top names in Hollywood and other celebrities including the mayor of New York City, President Calvin Coolidge and Charles Lindbergh. When Hearst died, Marion did not really know what was going on. The night before, there had been a lot of people in the house. Marion was very upset by the large crowd of family and friends. She said it was too noisy and were disturbing Hearst by talking so loud. She was upset and had to be sedated. When she woke, her niece, Patricia Van Cleve Lake, and her husband, Arthur Lake, told her that Hearst was dead. Upon Patricia's death, it was revealed she had been the love child of Davies and Hearst. Marion was banned from Hearst's funeral.

Marion started lots of charities including a children's clinic that is still operating today. She was very generous and was loved by everyone who knew her. She went through a lot, even getting polio in the 1940's. She developed cancer of the jaw and died in 1961.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: <GYPSY63635@aol.com>

Spouse (1)

Horace G. Brown (31 October 1951 - 22 September 1961) (her death)

Trade Mark (1)

Her offscreen stutter

Trivia (44)

She was the longtime, and sometimes long distance, mistress of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Their life together was dubiously mirrored in the films Citizen Kane (1941) and RKO 281 (1999), and more factually in The Cat's Meow (2001).
Mother-in-law of actor Arthur Lake, who was best known for portraying Dagwood Bumstead in a series of Blondie movies in the 1940s and 1950s.
Following her death, she was interred at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now Hollywood Forever Cemetery) in Los Angeles, California.
Younger sister of actress Reine Davies.
Is portrayed by by Virginia Madsen in The Hearst and Davies Affair (1985), by Heather McNair in Chaplin (1992), by Melanie Griffith in RKO 281 (1999), and by Kirsten Dunst in The Cat's Meow (2001).
The character of Susan Alexander Kane (played by Dorothy Comingore) in Citizen Kane (1941) was based on her. She liked to do puzzles and this hobby was incorporated into the character.
In 1993, the family of Patricia van Cleve (wife of actor Arthur Lake) revealed, upon her death, that she was actually the child of Marion and William Randolph Hearst. Van Cleve had been raised by Davies' sister Rose and had always been introduced as her niece and Lake as her nephew.
Being the practical joker that she was, she once got President Calvin Coolidge drunk by feeding him wine and telling him it was fruit juice.
Her tomb at Hollywood Forever Cemetery is often overlooked though it is an imposing structure. It is a miniature Greek temple on the east side of the lake very close to the grave of Tyrone Power. Her family name of Douras appears over the doorway.
She was William Randolph Hearst's mistress for over 30 years. It was widely considered the "worst kept secret in Hollywood" that she lived with him in California while his wife Millicent resided in New York. His wife would not grant him a divorce so that he could marry Davies. Davies retired from the screen in the late 1930s so she could be with Hearst as his health was declining. When Hearst lay dying in 1951 at age 88, Davies was given a sedative by his lawyer. When she awoke several hours later, she discovered that Hearst had passed away and that his associates had removed his body as well as all his belongings and any trace that he had lived there with her. His family had a big formal funeral for him in San Francisco. Davies did not attend.
Sister-in-law of George Regas.
In addition to her acting career, she spent much of her time at Cosmopolitan Pictures as a production manager. She had been appointed to this position by William Randolph Hearst, who wanted to keep her close to him.
She had a long-standing reputation in the film industry for being extremely kind to the casts and crews of her films, going so far as to pay hospital bills anonymously if she heard that they were sick.
She was famous for doing dead-on impersonations of celebrities at parties. At least, three impersonations became famous and successful into The Patsy (1928).
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6326 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
When Davies was in England, she learned that forgotten silent actress Florence Turner, who had been a star at Vitagraph, was destitute, a compassionate Davies paid for her and her mother to return to the United States, put them up in a hotel, and offered Turner a job with her production company.
In 1930, Cecil Beaton announced that he was going to photograph the six most beautiful women in the movies. He chose Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Alice White, Dolores del Rio, Lillian Gish, and Marion Davies.
Davies was offered the Ina Claire role in Claudia (1943), but William Randolph Hearst objected to her playing a supporting role as well as a character who died in a movie.
During the 1960 Democratic Convention held in Los Angeles, California, Davies turned her house over to Joseph P. Kennedy.
For 37 years, William Randolph Hearst-anointed gossip columnist Louella Parsons regularly reported in her column the catchphrase: "Marion never looked lovelier". Most readers considered it a pandering cliché.
Davies' final live stage appearance was a 64-performance run in Ed Wynn's "Carnival" in April 1920.
Profiled in the book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen M. Silverman. [1999]
Joseph Urban designed many of Davies' silent movies, specializing in everything from Art Deco to Gothic castles and interiors, utilizing his experience as a designer for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His work can be seen in surviving Davies films like The Restless Sex (1920), Enchantment (1921), The Bride's Play (1922), Beauty's Worth (1922), When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922), Little Old New York (1923), Yolanda (1924), Janice Meredith (1924), and Zander the Great (1925).
In November 1959, she funded the clinic at UCLA, which is still called the Marion Davies Children's Clinic.
Was a friend of George Bernard Shaw, who wanted her to play Eliza in Pygmalion (1938), which starred Leslie Howard. This would have reunited the two stars for the first time since Five and Ten (1931).
Appeared in 10 Broadway shows between 1914 and 1920, including the "Ziegfeld Follies of 1916".
Was nicknamed "Queen of the Screen," starring in nearly four dozen feature films (30 silents and 16 talkies) between 1917 and 1937. She also appeared as herself in a handful of short subject films.
As a long-time friend of Joseph P. Kennedy, Davies was invited to and attended the inauguration of John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. There are photographs of the inauguration that show her seated close to the President during his famous speech. Sadly, this was her last public appearance. She passed away eight months later.
Her starring talkie debut in Marianne (1929) came after an aborted attempt to film The Five O'Clock Girl (1928) and a never-started adaptation of the Broadway musical "Rosalie." Marianne (1929) was also shot as a silent film with with a different supporting cast.
William Randolph Hearst launched an Oscar campaign for Davies to receive a Best Actress nomination for Peg o' My Heart (1933), but she was not nominated.
In films from 1917 to 1937, she never appeared as an extra, a bit player, or a supporting player.
Starred in 48 films over a 20-year period.
Victor Herbert composed the "Marion Davies March" in her honor for the film premiere of When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922), the biggest hit film of the year.
She and Rudolph Valentino were crowned Queen of the Screen and King of the Screen, respectively, by theater owners at the Motion Picture Carnival in May 1924.
As of 2017, only one of Davies' movies has been voted into the National Film Registry. Show People (1928) was inducted in 2003. With the 2017 restoration of When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922), it becomes a strong candidate for inclusion. Other Davies films that could be inducted are The Patsy (1928), Little Old New York (1923), Enchantment (1921), and The Bride's Play (1922).
Was invited to and attended the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. Davies was a long-time friend of Joseph P. Kennedy and a staunch political supporter of the Kennedy family.
For the most part, William Randolph Hearst always ensured that her silent film leading men were either gay or middle-aged.
William Randolph Hearst reportedly tried to push MGM production boss Irving Thalberg to cast Davies in the title role in Marie Antoinette (1938), but Thalberg gave the part to his wife, Norma Shearer. Hearst had previously attempted to get Davies cast as Elizabeth Barrett Browning in The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934), a role that also went to Shearer.
Marion Davies starred in several radio broadcasts in the 1930s. Two that survive are "The Brat" on July 13, 1936 and "Peg o' My Heart" on November 29, 1937.
A book about Marion Davies' silent films, "The Silents Films of Marion Davies," by Edward Lorusso was published in 2017.
Had months of training for a fencing scene in the mega-hit When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922).
Marion Davies and Rudolph Valentino were named Queen and King of the Screen by theater owners for being the #1 box office stars of 1923. They were crowned at a March 1924 ball at the Astor Hotel in New York City. Davies had the mega-hits When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922) and Little Old New York (1923) playing in theaters in 1923.

Personal Quotes (3)

With me, it was 5% talent and 95% publicity.
When asked by a reporter about the opulent library of books in her Riverside Drive residence in Manhattan, Davies reportedly said, "I'll r-read all these when I'm an old woman.".
[reported words to Lita Grey regarding her lover, William Randolph Hearst] God, I'd give everything I have to marry that silly old man. Not for the money and security - he's given me more than I'll ever need. Not because he's such cozy company, either. Most times, when he starts jawing, he bores me stiff. And certainly not because he's so wonderful behind the barn. Why, I could find a million better lays any Wednesday. No, you know what he gives me, sugar? He gives me the feeling I'm worth something to him. A whole lot of what we have, or don't have, I don't like. He's got a wife who'll never give him a divorce. She knows about me, but it's still understood that when she decides to go to the ranch for a week or a weekend, I've got to vamoose. And he snores, and he can be petty, and has sons about as old as me. But he's kind and he's good to me, and I'd never walk out on him.

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